I remember when I was a kid, I would see others my age reading for pleasure.  I was NOT one of those kids.  There, I admit it.  I couldn’t stand reading for pleasure. B-O-R-I-N-G!  It wasn’t until I got out of college that I started reading, and I think I’m trying to catch up for lost time.  I now LOVE to read.  I read every chance I get.

This time of year, bookstores display tables for “summer/beach reading” recommendations.  Summer reading especially while at the beach or relaxing in a mountain cabin is just heavenly.  I’m very happy to be visiting both this summer and have already enjoyed my beach time. I’m getting ready to head to the mountains in two days and already have my books ready to pack.  Now mind you, I also have a Nook.  E-readers are just the best folks.  If you do not have one, put it on your wish list today. 

What do I read?  Everything.  From romance novels to mysteries in fiction along with a wide variety of nonfiction offerings fill my library.  However, it’s this time of year in my career that I work to recharge my professional batteries and dig into some great career related titles.  My current favorite is Who’s Got Your Back by Keith Ferrazzi.  If you have not read it, I strongly suggest you run out and buy it today along with his previous best seller Never Eat Alone.  AMAZING BOOKS! 

If you have not started a professional library, start getting recommendations from your colleagues today.  Take the time to get out of your own mind through the joy of reading, and I promise you will find yourself newly charged by the final page.

Be prepared!  When traveling, we have to be prepared.   If you are going to fly and are not going to check a bag, you have to make sure that all of your lotions and gels fit in a one quart size plastic baggie.  I, myself, cannot stand to walk barefoot through the security scanner, so even though I have to take off my shoes I wear socks until I get through the scanners.  I’m prepared folks. 

I have learned the hard way that I will never travel again for business or personal reasons without being prepared to run into someone with whom I might know professionally.

Early in my career, I was traveling for personal reasons and had a layover in the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.  I was waiting for a flight when a beautiful elderly woman sat down next to me.  She looked familiar to me, but I could just not place her.  We struck up a conversation during which time the woman found out that I worked at Texas A&M University. She said she had visited A&M several times and loved our school (more reason to adore her) and then leaned over close to me and asked if she could offer me a bit of advice.   Here it comes.  Wait for it.  Are you ready?

She very gently suggested that I always make sure that I am wearing lipstick when out in public.  I got up that morning, tossed on a pink sweat suit and put my hair in a ponytail for a long day of travel.  I had put on powder, mascara and lip gloss earlier but that was LONG GONE.  I probably looked awful.  She was so sweet that I just nodded my head, and we both shared a good laugh.  She was so very kind and continued to talk with me. 

After a while, she got up to leave and asked me my name. I responded, and she responded with her name:  Mary Kay Ash.  I have to be honest, as she walked away my first question to myself was “Why is she in the airport and doesn’t she have a “pink” private plane?”  The second thought was one I will never forget.  ALWAYS BE PREPARED. 

I have had students tell me about traveling and sitting next to someone on a plane who works for a future employer of choice.  I have traveled to conferences and found myself sitting next to a colleague.  You never know who you will meet. 

Now you don’t have to wear a suit when you travel, but never allow yourself to look like a bum.  As I said earlier, BE PREPARED.

Get Up…

June 25, 2010

When thinking about different ways to meet new people and build new relationship, a missed opportunity presents itself in every day work activities.  If you are currently working, or if you are a student, get up to deliver your messages. Don’t send it via e-mail…even if it is something small.  I learned very quickly the impact you can make when you give people face time. 

So, when you have to send some documents to the HR department, or if you need to correspond with a colleague down the hall, meet in person when you can.  Obviously, you can’t do this with every interaction, but if you start today by just getting up, walking across the hall to ask the question, people will start taking note of your attitude, enthusiasm, work ethic, professionalism, etc…  Some of these interpersonal skills are difficult to interpret in the world of e-mail and chat. 

By getting up and communicating face-to-face, when you do have to correspond via e-mail, it makes the message more meaningful.  You are building that relationship.  It becomes more important to the recipient and more important to you. ~ Stacey

How many times did your mother tell you to put your shoes on (and tie them) before you went to school?  We still do the same thing everyday before leaving our homes.  It is what we do as part of getting ready each day.    

When it comes to networking, too many of us we will do that during our free time during each week.  I don’t know about you, but that time never comes for me.  So, what are we doing wrong?  We aren’t putting on our shoes to get the work done.  We are lounging on that comfy sofa in our minds and truly putting off the most important part of successful career management. 

My challenge to you today is to put on your shoes and get networking.  Whether we are in the job search or the workforce, networking is imperative to our career success.  But, you have to be ready to be effective. 

  1. Right now, and I mean right now, grab a sheet of paper and jot down five of your current colleagues or potential leads you have meant to contact and frankly haven’t. 
  2. Write down next to each person what you need to do to make this connection.  Do you already have their contact information handy and just need to pick up the phone or open a new email?  Do you need to research this person’s background and mutual connections to be ready to talk about employment opportunities? 
  3. Open your calendar and make five calendar blocks next week.  During each of those time blocks, schedule yourself a time to do what you wrote down in step #2.  Do you need to draft an email text, make phone calls, prepare and research?  Do not reschedule these appointments.  Treat them as meetings you cannot change. 
  4. Every day next week put your shoes on complete each meeting time’s assigned task.  I challenge you to treat this project as something you would present to your boss.  The purpose is to reap benefits and results. 
  5. At the end of next week, write down the results of your efforts and start making plans for the next week on what to do next.  You may have received a call back or response to an email from the other party or maybe you didn’t.  Whatever the result, plan for what you need to do the next week.  If unsure, ask for advice.

The idea is to get in the habit of managing your time and making good on your promise to be a better networker. 

Networking is not something you can do in your spare time.  Networking is not something you do only when you need something right now.  Networking is a lifestyle.    

Just as when we were kids, we have to put our shoes on and be ready to network.

Scenario 1:  Have you ever tried to talk to someone yet never get a word in edgewise?  Have you ever tried to tell someone a story only to be interrupted with responses like: “The same thing happened to me” or “Oh, I can top that one”?   The person you are talking to is so focused on being interesting that they are not showing any interest in you at all.  They cannot wait for you to take a breath or finish your story so they can talk.  This person wants to be interesting. 

Scenario 2:  Have you ever had a conversation with someone who intently listens to everything you have to say?  They focus all of their efforts on you and only respond with questions which prompt you to tell more of your story?  How many times have we had those conversations and walked away thinking great things about that person? You were treated with respect and interest in what you had to say.  This person is interested.

In your efforts to network, are you interested or interesting? 

I can almost guarantee that if you show your interest in someone else, that person will find you interesting.  You will reap the benefits of caring for others. 

Successful career managers are great listeners.  They ask questions rather than monopolize conversations with stories focusing on their own merit. They do not exalt themselves into conversations.  Their conversations consist of more questions than statements that begin with “I want” or “I need” or “I did”. 

Start becoming a better listener.  Show more interest in what others have to say.  The result will be that people will find you interesting.  Now, I need to go and practice what I preach. 

~Cindy

The first step on a job seekers’ to-do list is usually to write a resume, the second might be to find posted positions and the third might be to apply to those positions.  I suppose I agree that those are the correct steps for job seekers.  But, are you a job seeker or a career seeker? 

Job seekers apply to posted positions.  Career seekers, on the other hand, approach this beast in an entirely different manner.  Their success relies on networking.  Statistics show that over 60%, some sources show over 80%, of all professional positions are gained through networking before positions ever get to the posting stage. They figure out what companies and industries are of interest and then seek out key people within those areas who might be able to offer advice and guidance.  These individuals do not lead their career search with a resume.  Their resume follows their face-to-face, voice-to-voice or email-to-email conversations. 

Career seekers are marketers and communicators. 

Career seekers are entrepreneurs.  They know the product they are selling and the customers they seek. 

Career seekers build relationships and make sure they are in the right place at the right time and are invited to interview for a position as opposed to ask for a job. 

Is this always the case?  No, but it happens more often than one might think.  Look to my first paragraph for that number. 

I challenge you to decide whether you  are a job seeker or a career seeker.  If you are a career seeker, do you have the tenacity and stamina it takes to be successful in your venture?

  1. Be authentic.
  2. Learn how to introduce yourself.
  3. Show your confidence.
  4. Develop the tools of the trade.
  5. Show your cards.
  6. Dress for success.
  7. Build a professional online image.
  8. Take a writing class.
  9. Ask for feedback.
  10. Reassess your personal brand regularly.

I don’t think I could have said it better myself.  Great group to follow…  

http://www.internadvocate.com/