I often hear introverts say that they are poor networkers.  I completely disagree.  Introverts are some of the best networkers because they usually spend more time listening to what is being said in a conversation rather than waiting to interject his or her thoughts. 

Great relationships whether they are personal or professional stem from getting to know one another and building rapport. We, as people, want to be heard.  We trust people who hear us. I wrote a blog last year titled “Be Interested, Not Interesting” which proves my point in this blog.  If I’m intent on being interesting, I am concentrating on the wrong person in the conversation.  If I’m interested, then I’m focused on the right person because I’m listening. 

The reason introverts are so good at listening is that they are typically not the type of people to wait for the person talking to take a breath to interject with a story of their own.  Great listeners focus on the person talking and answer with questions about the story at hand rather than trying to trump that story with one of their own. 

How often have you talked with someone who focused on you and your story then walk away thinking you had a great conversation?  Of course you have.  On the flip side, have you ever talked with someone only to walk away thinking to yourself, “That person never shut up!”  Don’t be that person.  Use your listening skills to build your network in these three easy steps: 

  1. The next time you attend an event, focus your conversations on listening to what other people have to say and only respond with comments or questions directed to the person talking and not about yourself. 
  2. Send the person or people you met an email or hand written note the very next day and mention something discussed in your conversation as opposed to something about you. and….
  3. STAY IN TOUCH!  Don’t drop this potential contact.    

Be a great listener, and you will a trusted and respected colleague and friend.

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Your Deserved Salary

September 28, 2010

The title of this blog alone probably has many career coaches and recruiters cringing.  Talk about one of the worst ways to approach a subject to a potential employer.  Tell an employer what you deserve, and I will bet the farm I know what you will really receive. 

To the average job seeker, hurdle number one is getting an interview; hurdle number two is getting the offer.  Somewhere between getting the interview, interviewing and the offer; job seekers start wondering about salary.  Salary is good.  I always say we work to live; we should not live to work.  Good concern, but be careful.  There is proper etiquette to salary inquiries. 

Talking to an employer about what you think you are worth or what you deserve can seriously backfire if you are not careful.  Mentioning the findings of your research is a great idea, but make sure you are not backing the employer into a corner.  Remember the best solution is one that benefits both parties involved.   When you find yourself focusing on what you deserve, take an extra dose of humility.  It works every time.

Remember how much you questioned everything as a kid?  Why is the sky blue?  Why are circles round?  Why do people die?  Those were the years we questioned everything about life.  We were fascinated with the answers our parents shared and even more fascinated to find out the adult truth later on in life.

Fast forward to adulthood.  Somewhere between four years of age and today we stopped asking questions.  We  have beckoned the quick and easy facts as to asking the question “why?” .

I speak to countless job seekers who only ask what they need to get by. They want to know what is on the test.  We often blame a lack of time for the inability to be inquisitive, but in fact asking questions is and incredible leadership quality.  In fact, I challenge you to pick up any literature that focuses on Leadership and see if it doesn’t include something about being curious, inquisitive and “challenging the process” as Kouzes and Posner refer to in their famous leadership book called The Leadership Challenge.  

The skill of asking questions comes when you seek adequate information to make intelligent and well-thought-out decisions, and understand when it is time to stop.  As always you want to maintain a balance so that you are cognizant of the other persons time.

I encourage questions.  Personally, I enjoy a person who is interested in learning as much about a subject as possible.  When preparing for your career and making decisions on new employment opportunities, please challenge yourself to be more inquisitive.  Ask questions.  Learn as much as you can about a company and a career in a broader spectrum rather than just focusing on preparing for a 30 minute interview or conversation. 

This entry was jointly written by both Cindy and Stacey.

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.

I was recently reading some material I picked up at a conference from Cap & Compass and spotted a very telling question: “Do you enjoy looking stupid?”  I have to tell ya, my answer is no. Oh, I like to entertain and make people laugh, but I want them to laugh with me not at me.  What about you? 

Very little saddens me more professionally than to hear a job seeker talk about chasing the job and company of his or her dreams only to blow it.  The best advice I can ever give anyone in making sure that this does not happen is to get advice from the decision makers in business today rather than the novices out there.  For example: don’t ask your friends if your suit is appropriate for a job.  Ask someone in the industry and level of position of the person interviewing you.  Your friends might think your short skirt is pretty, but you will look stupid if you wear it to a professional interview.  Your friends might tell you that having a few drinks at a corporate reception is fine, but on the outside chance you are being tested or could get drunk….  Let’s say it together:  STUPID!  Noone enjoys looking stupid, and it can kill your career opportunities. 

I don’t know about you, but I do enough stupid things in my life.  If I can find a way to keep me from doing that, I’m on board with it. What about you?  Go seek the best advice so you avoid looking stupid.  ~~Cindy