Recently I was asked to share my advice regarding personal business cards (not the one from your employer, but one you create yourself.) I recommend everyone have a card that truly expresses who they are. if that comes from your day job, great! But if not, a personal card is the way to go. Here's why...
Why It's Important to Have a Personal (Business) Card:
It gives you a way to professionally exchange contact information with connections who are relevant to interests or ventures outside/apart from your day job.
A personal card is a way to expand your network to cover more facets of your life and/or life's work (especially if your day job isn't your dream).
it's great for building & adding legitimacy to a side business or hobby or volunteer project or for making affiliations generally taboo at work like political affiliations.
Most importantly though, a personal card will boost your own confidence in moving forward with a new venture or project because the card takes an idea and makes it real, tangible. There is something about creating a businesscard that makes you feel legitimate and validated. I have found that a tangible business card enables a very important part of any transition which is "acting as if." A card convinces you that you are legitimate which is key if you are going to convince anyone else.
When I decided to pursue my dream of being a cabaret singer, I invested in singing lessons and in a personal businesscard. My card had my stage name and title, a specially created email address and phone number, a microphone design, sultry red color, and my take on a George Bernard Shaw quote.
I gave the cards out to the musicians I wanted to work with and the owner of the club at which I wanted to sing. My cabaret cards showed I was serious and professional to the people who would ultimately help me make my cabaret show called, "Follow Your Dreams" a reality.
We are all unique and when you express yourself with a personal businesscard, you/it will naturally stand out. Put meaning behind the design or color or quote and you will be naturally more memorable especially to those who resonate with your message!
Read on for my commencement address and advice on finding lasting career success no matter when you graduated high school...
To the Class of 2012… CONGRATULATIONS! This is your day. How good does it feel?
NO more homework, NO more assemblies or open house projects. NO more quizzes, exams, papers.
You’ve made it. How GOOD does it feel? Parents & teachers: how happy are you too!?
I know my parents were right there with me during my MMI days. I am very thankful to them for the opportunity. And parents, your kids will appreciate what you did in sending them to MMI as I appreciate my parents today. I know how hard you've all worked & the amount of energy you've all put in to get to this point. It's more than many will accomplish in their entire lives.
When I was here they told us the homework would keep us off the streets & out of trouble. While that may still be the case, rest assured that you've learned a lot more here than just how to keep busy. You may not realize it, but in my experience, everything I needed to know I learned at MMI. I did, and so did you. For starters, you are well prepared for more than just college. Life is a daily test of your abilities but you've proven you can make it through Mr. Cusat's math tests, Senior's Spanish quizzes and Mrs. Titus's papers. You didn't crack under pressure. You rose to the challenge and responded to it.
Not only that, you haven't just learned proper grammar or a new language or how to master calculus, you now know HOW TO LEARN. And you will continue learning & evolving your entire lives. Lifelong learning is not just nice catchphrase. It’s a must in today’s world that is critical to lasting success in life & career. As Darwin said, it's not the fittest who survive but the most adaptable. Knowing how to learn makes you adaptable and will make you successful in any career you choose. I've changed careers five times. Yes, five times.
I started out as an accountant/CPA. Then I became a management consultant. Next up, a corporate trainer. Then an entrepreneur career consultant… a radio host… and now, in addition to that, I’m also a mom – a career in itself!
Two times my employer was the impetus for my transition. But other times I chose to change, and you probably will too. It's OK.
The number of careers one has in a lifetime is increasing with each generation. You will learn & adapt your talents to changing circumstances, & will not just survive but thrive no matter what future employers or future economies undergo.
On top of that, you've conquered a fear most people rank highest in their lives public speaking!
Though you may not yet fully appreciate the years of terror, –I mean “experience” – you have giving assembly speeches, you will soon find that you have no problem expressing yourself and getting your points across.
Without this particular skill, I know I wouldn't have had the courage and experience to host a national career talk show for six years on SiriusXM satellite radio for the Martha Stewart channel or share my views on CNN a dozen times where I was introduced as” one of America's best known career coaches."
Believe me all your hard work will pay lasting dividends too. Having just celebrated my 20 yr reunion, I can honestly say that if you can make it here, you truly can make it anywhere.
I've interviewed & been in the presence of dozens of successful and "famous" people like Martha Stewart, tennis legend Martina Navratilova, & wellness guru Deepak Chopra. From their experience and my own, I've learned a very important career lesson: When passion meets purpose, there's no stopping success.
Yes, they had a strong work ethic, and YOU do too after MMI. They also had a dream, a vision of what they wanted to become. They not only followed their passion but became their dream and made their ideal a reality.
Martha Stewart didn't stop at becoming a caterer. She dreamt of having a TV show and making "living" into a magazine and ultimately a multi-media company. She DID.
Martina Navratilova didn't want to just be a great tennis player in her home country of Czechoslovakia. She wanted to become an international superstar at tournaments like Wimbledon. She DID, even though it meant defecting and leaving her family behind under communist rule.
Deepak Chopra dropped out of a prestigious Harvard program because he wanted to become a revolutionary in the medical field. He DID.
You too have witnessed firsthand the amazing things that can happen when passion meets purpose. We are all here b/c Sophia and Eckley Coxe were socially responsible (before it was cool). The tradition of excellence they started has produced a long list of successful alumni.
My speech as salutatorian highlighted just a few stellar examples of the heights an MMI grad can reach. And that was twenty years ago. The list is even more impressive today. You are now on it! You are now a part of this tradition.
From here on out, as MMI alums, your lives and careers will present bigger, more exciting & more rewarding opportunities b/c of the foundation built here. No dream is too big or goal too bold for an MMI grad to achieve.
I dreamt of being commencement speaker one day. And here I am, speaking to all of you.
It's OK if you don't know exactly what you want your career to be. I certainly didn’t! But NOW is the time for you to allow your passions to shine through, to start your own soul search. I am sure you have already realized where your natural talents and passions lie. Think of an activity or project you’ve been involved with at school. The yearbook, Guys & Dolls, Mock Trial… The kind of thing you just loved doing… loved the people around you… and loved being there until the work got done. That’s how you want to feel when you’re following your passion.
I know this and live this because I focus on helping others find and follow their passions as a career coach. When I take my clients through a process of Soul Search, Research, THEN Job Search, often times what they loved to do (& were good at) in high school still hold true today.
I find we all know what our passion really is. And what I've learned coaching thousands, is that your dreams align perfectly with what the world most NEEDS YOU to do. So here’s your last assignment. (Don’t worry; it doesn’t affect your grades or final transcript.) As you leave MMI and set off to discover more of yourself-- your interests, your passions. --Take notes.
Do your Soul search by crafting your ideal vision. Write about what you'd love to do, your unique gifts and talents, the way you want to make a difference, who you enjoy being around/working with and always include that you make a good income.
Everything is possible.
I encourage you to write it down this summer, and write it in the present tense as if it's already happening. Include the accolades that will make you most proud.
Then Research. I know it's probably a dreaded word, but it can be fun when you're following your passion... like an assignment from a class you actually love. Look for and introduce yourself to people in the careers you'd like to have. They may even be fellow MMI alums. Ask them how they got to where they are today, what it takes to be successful, and what they would recommend for someone determined to get into their field.
Listen & learn. Understand if it’s truly what you want to do. And remember Research can reveal what you don't want as much as what you do. Your vision coupled with Research then becomes your compass for selecting the right college major and applying for the right internships -all setting you on the right path to following YOUR passions.
If I had written down one of my favorite MMI activities, it would have been Mrs. Titus’ introduction to archetypes. The class introduced me to Carl Jung psychology and human behavior. – All of which are very relevant to the work I do today. I’ve even done (and LOVED) graduate work in organizational psychology b/c that same drive and passion still hold true today.
Every one of you will find the same connection back to what you loved doing here at MMI. Write it down now. Start to understand now what really drives you.
Listen to your hearts and trust yourselves to know best what you need to do to be happy and successful. As they say - "The only success in life is being able to live in your own way."
Ok, so you now have your final assignment, but it could end up being your most important one. Besides you've already made it through what may prove to be the toughest academic challenges of your life. This will be easy! ;)
Enjoy this moment & celebrate all the people who've helped you get here from your parents to the faculty & administrators to each other. What a supreme accomplishment on your resume to be a graduate of MMI.
Frank Sinatra was right. If you can make it there, you can make it anyway. And I’ve made it in NYC. But I made it there b/c I made it here first...I would add that if you make it here at MMI, you REALLY CAN make it ANYWHERE!
Congratulations and best of luck Class of 2012!
What do you wish you'd known then that you know now? Share your best career advice with the class of 2012 below...
Read on for practical, strategic advice from Troy...
Turning a Layoff Into a Promotion
Q: What would you say were the crucial steps to your amazing transition?
A: For me the most crucial steps were to remain focused, patient and methodical in my approach to my job search. It is very easy to let your emotions get the best of you and become distracted from what you are trying to accomplish. I wanted my unemployment to turn into real opportunity, but that required diligence, and there were many days when searching for the right opportunity I got distracted by the pressures to just find a job, any job. Having a plan I could focus on and routine work to do was a good distraction from the emotional rollercoaster. It is only natural to fear the uncertainty so my advice is to make sure you focus on those things that are in your control.
Q: You Soul searched and Researched before you Job searched. Did it make a difference in the quality of the new job you've found? in other ways?
A: Most definitely. Had I not soul searched or researched I would have been lost when I needed to be the most focused and strategic. Without the confidence in knowing myself and my goals I could have easily entered into another role that was very similar to the one I had previously. It was difficult to think broadly and rely on what I had soul searched. Friends, family colleagues, all wanted to help me get back into the same role I had. They all knew me in one particular way and I’m sure they thought they were most helpful if they helped me do what I had been doing. I needed to rely on my internal understanding of my soul search and remain focused on my research. It helped me sort through the well-intentioned offers and the myriad of online postings and recruiters who needed to fill particular roles. My soul search and research served as my north star to keep me focused and ultimately the job I landed would have not have been on my radar if I had gone the traditional job search route. There is a lot of information online and you need tools like soul search to sift thru otherwise you can be pulled in a million different directions and not be very productive. So yes it helped land a better job that was more in line with the qualities that make me happy at work.
Q: What role did networking (online & off) play in you being sought after for your new job? Were some online sites/tools more helpful than others?
A: Networking is critical. But I had to learn to do it. I had a lot of preconceived notions of what it meant to network and I was wrong on all of them. It is not about calling someone or talking to someone at a cocktail reception and asking for a job. It’s about sharing with everyone you know where you are in your career and where you want to go. There is nothing to be afraid of when you are talking about yourself and knowing who you are, instead it becomes a fruitful discussion about you your skills, capabilities and interests and not and awkward conversation about asking for a job. Once people I knew understood what I wanted and what I was interested in doing the suggestions and offers to help were more meaningful. Gone was the obligatory “let me know how I can help” and instead there were real offers to connect me with people who could help me reach my goals for a new career. By networking I was able to talk to more people who were in positions to hire.
I found LinkedIn to be amazing! It became an obsession. Instead of playing “words with friends” I played on LinkedIn. I challenged myself to find the connections in certain companies and found innovative ways to start conversations with individuals whom I did not have a connection with. I used the linking tool to get a conversation started. It also broke down the traditional barriers to networking. Everyone on the site was willing to make a connection or discuss what they knew about a company, job or industry.
I made a promise to myself to keep networking, even with a new job, and that is twofold. First, it took a lot of effort and people were gracious enough to help the least I can do is keep them informed and second I want to make sure and be available to help the next person going through this process.
Q: Given your recent experience, what helpful tips or advice would you give to others who've been laid off?
A: Don’t be afraid to talk to everyone about who you are and what you are trying to do, whether it is a new role in a new industry, starting your own business or getting a similar job in another company. There is NO shame in being laid off, it is not your fault the company reorganized, or had to close down or sent jobs overseas. I was initially afraid of how I would tell people that I was unemployed and I was surprised how it was not held against me. People are getting laid off in every industry and you should not be ashamed about it. Instead tell everyone about the skills and capabilities you have and how you are using this as an opportunity to find that job that is fulfilling to you and how you will make a meaningful contribution in your next role.
Finally I would say don’t forget to keep in touch with everyone who is helping you along the way. You want to make sure you don’t just contact them when you need something. Your network includes trusted friends and advisors and should be treated as such. They will continue to be invaluable.
Taking time to manage your career leads to better opportunities. As you can tell from Troy's advice and experience, getting on the path to your ideal career starts with your own Soul Search and getting clear on what you'd love to do, the skills you want to utilize, and your work preferences.
I hope his experience inspires you to be optimistic about your next opportunity even if your last job ended in a layoff. KNOW there is something better out there for you just as there was for Troy - you just need to Soul Search and Research BEFORE your Job Search to find it.
If you've been laid-off or dream of a better career, share your vision below. Let's help each other do work we love!
On air and off, I've been asked many times about where to find opportunities to work from home and avoid job scams.
To answer this question, I enlisted the help of CEO & Founder of FlexJobs.com Sara Sutton Fell.
She says experts estimate that as high as 98 percent of work-from-home job listings are scams.
If you’re serious about finding legitimate work-from-home opportunities, read on...
Sara's three keys to avoiding scams and finding real jobs:
Know the typical scam jobs. Perhaps without even knowing it, you’ve already come across a job search scam. Common work-from-home scams include repackaging or shipping products, survey taking, envelope stuffing, data entry, pyramid or sales schemes, wire transfers and money movement, and craft or product assembly. Any of these should raise a red flag and put you on guard. Be careful of the keywords you use to search. "Work from home" is a phrase associated with lots of scams and pyramid schemes. Instead, try safer words like "remote work," "telework," and "telecommuting." The likelihood of a job being a scam also dramatically increase if there is a promise of easy money for easy work, if they require you to "invest" or pay a fee to get the job, if they ask you for personal financial information such as bank or credit card numbers, or if they use all capitalized letters or lots of !!! and $$$ punctuation. E-mails from unknown sources that promise work-from-home jobs should be ignored completely, and of course deleted.
Use legitimate sources for work-from-home jobs. If you’re currently employed, you might start right there. Employers are more open to telecommuting as a means of work, and if you approach your manager with a proposal to telecommute which lays out how everything will work, you might not have to job search after all. A company called Work Options helps professionals convince their wary bosses by preparing a detailed telecommuting proposal. If you want to find a new job and are exploring job search websites, keep in mind that the biggest job boards don’t pre-screen their job listings, so a scams can – and usually are – mixed in with the job listings (as well as in ads typically integrated on the sites). Another way to find a new job is to go directly to a company’s website. Think of small and large companies you admire and would like to work for, and visit their career websites to see if they’re hiring for any remote jobs. The search process for a work-from-home job is going to be more time-intensive than a traditional job search, but the end result is worth it. On the other hand, there are premium sites like FlexJobs that specialize in providing legitimate work-from-home jobs and pre-screen every job and employer to ensure they aren’t scams.
Do your research. Once you’ve found a job listing that allows telecommuting, do some follow-up research to ensure it’s a legitimate work-from-home opportunity. Does the company have a working website and phone number? Are they a member of the Better Business Bureau (and be sure to click on the logo to check their rating with the BBB)? Have they been covered by any major media outlets (and if they claim so, be sure to read the article to make sure the claim is true)? Try doing a web search for the company’s name and the keyword “scam” or “rip-off” to see if any of the search results raise an alarm. You can also use the FlexJobs Guide to the Best Companies for Flexible Jobs, a free resource featuring thousands of pre-screened and verified companies that have offered telecommuting or flexible jobs in the past. If your research turns up only good results, it’s probable that you’re dealing with a legitimate company.
Working from home can be the answer to many common work woes. You’ll be rid of the daily commute, save money on gas, car maintenance, and your professional wardrobe, and you have more time to spend with your family, friends, hobbies, and even yourself. By keeping these tips in mind, you’re bound to create a safer job search experience for yourself, and ultimately end up with a legitimate work-from-home job that can help make some of your biggest work woes disappear.
Many thanks to Sara for sharing her spot on advice! Have a tip for working from home? Share your comments, suggestions and questions. Here's to having both the work and life you crave!
Recently I attended Monster's Innovation Day to gain a sense for what's happening in the world of online job posting and recruiting.
Glad I did.
I learned new technology is enabling a few very helpful improvements to the matching process between employer and candidate.
If it works as well as it's described, submitting your resume to a corporate site won't be the black hole it is today. And more impressive, companies will also better be able to manage talent internally. They'll know more about the talent they have inside the company walls today and potential matches for the business needs of tomorrow. This will directly influence investments and training.
It all has to do with semantic search which unlike Boolean search, enables content and context to be utilized and analyzed to find results. No longer is it just about key word searches on resumes when companies want to find the right candidates eternally or externally. The latest tools can actually sift through databases of employee & candidate information in seconds & provide intelligently ranked results.
Crazy? Not really. Think of it this way, when you do a google search now, you get thousands of pages of results and not all quality. Well, with semantic search you get quality not just quantity. Did I mention Google just announced they are moving to semantic search?
So what does this mean to you?
Your chances of being found for the right job are increasing as technology gets smarter. You also won't have to agonize over resume key words like and sorry, you won't be able to "game the search systems" with creative uses of white space.
Overall it still comes down to managing your career to be found for the opportunities that fit the elements of your ideal career. You still need to find your passion and work to get those relevant skills and experience on your resume as you work towards your ideal career. But, we can all be glad technology is on our side in finding a match made in heaven (or on Monster.com.)
Last week I wrapped up my last official duty for Martha Radio. I was the "prize" or rather my mentoring was the prize for a sweepstakes sponsored by DeluxeCorp and Martha's Dreamers into Doers project to help a small business owner to the next level. The winner was Laura McKeown who together with her husband Mac, started Sea Art Studio creating lovely functional tile art out of sea-based materials.
It was fascinating to meet with Laura and Mac and hear their story. Mac spent years as a commercial fisherman (a dangerous but lucrative job). One day, a giant boulder got caught in the nets. Sea life covered the stone and inspired the artist in Mac to recreate the beauty he saw into custom tiles. I'm honored to say I possess an original of Mac's work and it is impressive!
Together with the very savvy Laura Radewald from Deluxe (a previous guest on my radio show), we spent our "mentoring dinner" focused on ways Mac and Laura could build on their initial success.
Here are 3 essential questions I asked them so you too can make sure your career (or small business) is a success:
Soul Search: What is your biggest success story to date? What's made you happiest? Mac talked about a large installation that he found gratifying from an artistic and financial perspective. Laura talked about building their website and how it helped her realize her interest in creative marketing.
Research: What is between you and doing MORE of that kind of work? The way for Mac to more big installations was to increase his notoriety. But being an artist, Mac felt a strong personal connection to each product and therefore maintained control over how it was sold and marketed. Laura wanted to set up bigger partnerships with design stores and interior decorators but had a hard time getting Mac to choose the best designs for a product line that could be marketed and mass produced.
Job Search/Action Plan: What steps can you take to bridge the gap between where you are today and your ideal? I coached Laura and Mac to play to their unique strengths and compliment one another in their business roles. Laura valued Mac's work though was less attached and therfore better able to market his product. Mac's talents were best served focusing on the production process and continuing to make beautiful work most efficiently. The two walked away with an expanded perspective and specific tangible ways to make a living doing work they both loved!
Few people think to enjoy job searching. However, I have found the mindset we have cannot only bring more job search success but also fun to the process. To help you find the right mindset for your next job search, I'm sharing a special guest post from Rob Biesenbach, actor and author of ACT LIKE YOU MEAN BUSINESS. According to Rob, if you want to be more successful in your job search and networking activities, take a tip from Hollywood: treat every interaction like a performance.
Here are six lessons from Hollywood that can help you perform better in job interviews, at networking events and in any communication:
1. Know Your Audience
Before a job interview, do your homework. Who will you be meeting with? Look them up on the organization’s website and LinkedIn.
And before any networking event, look at the list of attendees. Who do you know? Who do you want to know? What do you have in common and how do you plan to connect?
2. Tell Stories
Have an “elevator pitch” ready at all times, so you’re able to tell your story in a few sentences. Who are you, what do you do, how do you stand out from others and how do people benefit from your skills or services?
You should also have stories ready that illustrate your accomplishments – challenges you’ve faced in the workplace and how you overcame them.
3. Reveal Your Human Side
In this market, employers can find any number of qualified candidates. How are you going to stand out from the pack? By showing them who you are as an individual. Give them a glimpse of your personality, your humanity. Employers want to know what kind of person they’re committing to spending half their waking hours with.
4. Appeal to Emotion
Again, this is a performance. You can’t phone it in. You have to talk about your accomplishments, interests and goals with enthusiasm and passion. What makes you jump out of bed in the morning? What do you love about your work? How do you feel you are making a difference in peoples’ lives?
5. Show, Don’t Tell
It’s not enough to list your achievements. What evidence can you show to back up your claims? Hard results, industry awards, accolades, media coverage – these are much more convincing and credible than anything you say about yourself.
Actors spend countless hours preparing for their time on stage and in front of the camera. Similarly, you should practice for any interaction that’s important to you, whether it’s a meeting, interview or networking event. That means determining your goal, preparing what you’re going to say, anticipating objections and how you’ll overcome them, and practicing until you’re comfortable.
Attend to these things and you’ll be ready to hit the stage with poise and confidence. After all what is it about the great performances we see on TV and in the movies that draws us in? Compelling stories. Characters we can relate to. An emotional connection.
Many thanks to Rob for sharing his expertise and insights! I couldn't agree more with his tips, especially about revealing your human side. Be yourself and you'll be the star you were born to be!
After six years, it's time for Making A Living with Maggie to find a new home. Unfortunately my radio show is no longer being carried by SiriusXM due to major restructuring of the Martha Stewart Radio channel. It was a surprise because my show was popular and had advertisers. Nevertheless I am on the hunt for a new home be it FM/AM, Internet/podcast, TV or some other medium (I just found out my How To Interview video on YouTube went viral & has over 1.2 million hits!)
I'm Soul Searching on it at the moment, taking my own advice. But I didn't want this moment to pass without acknowledging all those who have helped make my show a success (saying thank you to those who've helped you is also advice I often share.)
I want to thank all the loyal listeners and callers for tuning in. Your questions and comments both on air and off made for rich career conversations. Thank you for your recent show of support as well, offering to write letters to Martha Stewart Living Radio and SiriusXM on my behalf (click on the links to make a comment on each company's respective Facebook page). Knowing my show has helped you/your careers emboldens me to continue getting the message out there that it is possible to Soul Search, Research, & Job Search into work you love!
Thank you to my inspired guests who openly shared the ups and downs of their career stories so that others could benefit. I'm honored to have interviewed the likes of Deepak Chopra, Martina Navratilova, Bob Barker, Dilbert Creator Scott Adams, Patricia Heaton, Barbara Corcoran, Sally Field and Martha herself as well as industry experts like Sandy Abrams, Keith Ferrazzi, Cali Yost, Marci Alboher, Lindsey Pollak, Craig Zabransky, Dan Schawbel, Jonathan Fields, Mark Babbit, Sree Sreenivasan, Gretchen Rubin, Miriam Salpeter & many others. (For a complete list of past guests and their latest advice visit my radio page.)
Thank you to my radio producers Marcy Yurick and Lauren Gould & sound engineer Chris Hauselt. Special thanks to Samara Lenga my first producer/engineer for getting Making A Living with Maggie off the ground.
Many thanks to Nicole Williams for suggesting I pitch a show to Martha Radio, to my former boss Ron Thomas for encouraging me to branch out careerwise, and to Cyndi Stivers for saying yes to my pitch & giving me the chance to live out a my dream to be a radio host. Many thanks to broadcasting executive Liz Aiello for recognizing the continued value of career conversation on air.
Thank you to my show sponsors and advertisers like Deluxe Corp. Your support has enabled people to follow their passions to new business ventures.
When one door closes, another opens. Though disappointed that my time on Martha Stewart Living Radio and SiriusXM have come to a close, I welcome the opportunity to reach even more people through new channels be it FM, AM, Internet radio, podcasts, TV, video, or something better.
Instead of thinking about yourself in 2012, considering thinking about others. Look for ways to help them get what they need.
Whether young or old, experienced or not - one area many people need help with these days is career.
My client Linda inspired me recently by really going out of her way to help someone land her first job. In Linda's own words, "I feel really strongly about people trying to help each other find their next stop along the career highway." And it shows!
To help someone in 2012, here's what you can learn from Linda:
Be open to informational interviews. -- Linda spent time with a career newcomer to explain both a high level understanding of the work environment as well as a practical and realistic idea of what is expected in the position. Linda went even further than just talking about her work, and gave a full tour of her workspace complete with explanations of how all the pieces and team roles fit together. Having this kind of bird's eye view gave an inspiring context to the job seeker and an ability to see a career path.
Share your network. -- Linda offered up additional connections that would help expand the network of the job seeker. She made an introduction to a former colleague who had been in the business a long time so that the newcomer could hear firsthand what it's like actually doing the job day in and day out. For many this inside scoop is the perfect research to know if a job will fit their talents and personality--invaluable insight to know before going into an interview.
Offer to help going forward. -- Linda asked to be kept posted on the person's job hunt and offered to role play on the phone for any upcoming interviews. Given that she used to interview people for the job the person was going after, this kind of support was extremely valuable. It's important to recognize that when people like Linda invest their time, they want to know how things progress with your search so be sure to keep them up-to-date at least monthly.
What ways have you helped others or been helped? I'd love to hear your story. Here's to a New Year where you give (and get) all the help you need on the career highway!
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” --Kahlil Gibran
WHO you know is as important as what you know. Knowing how to ask the VIPS in your circle for what you need takes skill and tact. Below etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore shares her top tips for making the most of your VIP connections...
In general, VIPs are inundated with requests for referrals and favors and they tend to decline unless they know you well. Once you’ve established a relationship, you’re ready to take the plunge. Your polite requests will be more valid and effective if you are willing to follow these guidelines:
•Study Up: Research the VIP’s passions. Your correspondence or conversation will flow more smoothly if you know something about his or her hobbies or interests. If you can find something in common with the VIP, the connection will most likely shift your relationship from casual to personal.
•Show Up: It’s best not to wait to reach out until you get laid off or need a favor or referral. You’ll increase your chances of making a good connection if you’re in the right place at the right time with the right information and the right attitude.
•Pay Up: In some cases, you may have to stretch your budget and spend some money to gain access to a VIP. Don’t be surprised if you have to buy a pricey ticket to a luncheon or gala so you can meet the VIP in person. You’ll acquire extra points if you can find out a VIP’s favorite cause, charity, or alma mater and make a donation in his or her name.
•Speak Up: Don’t be afraid to ask a VIP for a favor or a request, but make sure you know when and how to ask. Approach the VIP in a polite, humble, and respectful manner, and give it a shot. My motto is: if you don’t ask, the answer will always be “no,” but if you do ask, the answer just might be “yes.”
•Set Up: It’s counterproductive to attend events just because you skipped lunch and you’re hungry for cheese puffs or thirsty for a cocktail. Stay focused on your goal. Make a mental list of the VIPs you’d like to meet, and then introduce yourself as soon as you spot them. If possible, connect with the people you want to meet before the meal. Some VIPs like to make an early showing at an event and then quietly slip away as soon as possible so they can get to another engagement.
•Buddy Up: When you want to meet a VIP for the first time, find a host or someone in authority (the “connector”) to introduce you. This makes the introduction more significant than if you were to approach the VIP on your own. If there’s no connector, then take the initiative and hope for the best.
•Step Up: I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to put your boss on your VIP list. In a perfect world you might consider treating all of your work colleagues like VIPs, but it makes perfect sense to work especially well with your boss. Pay particular attention to the things your boss doesn’t like to do and then become exceptionally good at those tasks. You’ll not only score extra points with your boss; you’ll also make yourself indispensable. Your initiative and willingness to go the extra mile might just put you on your boss’s VIP list as well.
Many thanks to Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach for sharing her advice. Be sure to check out her new book POISED FOR SUCCESS (St. Martin’s Press, Nov. 2011). She can be reached at www.etiquetteexpert.com.