Hello! I’m looking for…Networking Effectively at Events

Hello! I’m looking for…Networking Effectively at Events

Earlier this week, a friend and I decided to check out a local networking event in Allentown. I love the restaurant and it was a gorgeous evening so I knew we’d be able to spend time outdoors. We grabbed a drink and stood in the crowd catching up. Out of no where, a woman comes around my right side and introduces herself.

Impressed by her gumption, we both started chatting with her. She asked what we do for a living and where we live in the Valley. We returned the favor and asked her where she worked and lived and she began to describe how she was working full-time in an industry that was not ideal for her. We asked her what she was seeking and fully supported her interests by offering to connect her to a few people we know in the area. We exchanged business cards, she thanked us and went on her way. Seems like a typical networking encounter, correct?

My friend and I turned to each other, acknowledged the whirlwind that that was and befuddled regarding the fact that she did not even want to continue to learn more about us. My friend said that if she had run into a career coach like myself, she would have tried to chat with me more and take advantage of me being right there, free of charge. I wouldn’t have blamed her for doing so, in fact, I felt the same way…why hadn’t she stuck around to get to know us?

My belief is that when you are desperate to move on from a position or career and someone gives you the advice to get as many business cards as you can at networking events, you lose out on the opportunity to truly connect with someone, get to know them and learn about the ways you can help each other.

We stood around for a while discussing what she could have done better, again, admiring her straight-shooter approach but knowing full well that perhaps her more successful strategy should have been reciprocal in nature, not transactional. Avoid the “bad taste in others mouths” impression and stick around for a conversation. Building relationships genuinely and over time will pay off in the end in dividends that you oftentimes cannot even compute at the time. Below are some tips for turning a quick networking transaction into a relationship:

1. Truly listen to what the other person is saying. There are gems of advice and sage pieces of wisdom in everyone’s professional story. That same night, we met a gentleman who has been running a successful investment property company while simultaneously making a 300% mark-up/profit selling stationary and funeral announcements to funeral home directors. He learned this trade and skill selling this product through a different company and then choosing to work for himself, taking his clients with him from that company.

2. Offer a favor in return. Last month, I attended a Chamber affiliated young professionals’ group networking event and met an easy-to-speak with financial planner. We chatted about the area as I told him I recently returned and was looking to meet other professionals in the area. He offered to meet me for coffee so we could see how we could help each other. It seemed like each of us was looking for mentor – me for the area and him to promote his professional development and advance the career profile of the professionals in the Valley. That conversation made me feel energized, like a part of something and potentially the start of a great professional relationship.

3. Sit at the bar. When the event started to wind down, my friend and I realized we were pretty hungry. We decided to grab a seat at the bar and order dinner. There were two seats but one gentleman was sitting in between them so we kindly asked him to move over and invited him to join our conversation. He turned out to be a very nice guy who knew all of the bartenders and was a regular at this restaurant. We immediately had an in, lucky us! Plus, many people visit the bar to order drinks, which gave us both a way to chat with more people and we didn’t even have to go anywhere. If you happen to not be near the flow of “drink-ordering” traffic, you always have the bartender(s) to network with and they meet tons of people every day.

For more advice, follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn @MeghanGodorov.

Looking to change your career? Or a considering new opportunities? Sign up for my newsletter today on my homepage and receive a free job analysis worksheet that will help you advocate for a raise or career change.

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Free LinkedIn or Resume Review: Learn How to Earn Below

Free LinkedIn or Resume Review: Learn How to Earn Below

You’re in luck! This is going to be a December to remember for those who want to build a career that lasts. I love freebies and want to offer you that same excitement before the year’s end.

If you are already one of my newsletter subscribers, refer 2 friends to sign-up for my newsletter before December 31st and earn a free LinkedIn or resume review. Get another two people to sign up for my newsletter and you’ll earn a steeply discounted ($47) 30-minute phone or Skype career strategy session. This is a total savings for you of $150!! We can talk about whatever you want for your 30-minutes: my resume or LinkedIn profile comments, your dream career and how to get there, where you might be able to look for resources for a particular industry, how to leverage social media in your search and many more topics!

For anyone not already on my newsletter list who signs up before December 31st, they too will receive a free LinkedIn or resume review.
Bonus! And for every four more people anyone refers to sign up for my newsletter, they will qualify for that same discounted 30-minute session ($47) I mentioned above.

This is a serious win-win for everyone! I want to help anyone who simply needs a boost to get started, the confidence to navigate a new career path or a combination of tools and strategies to make sense of what might be next for them professionally.

So you’re wondering, how will she know whom I referred? I have your answer. Here is the link to the google document where you can list the names of the individuals you’ve encouraged to sign-up for my newsletter. I will cross-check my list of subscribers with this document and email you directly notifying you of your win(s).

So visit my website’s homepage today, opt-in yourself and then tell your friends. Let’s get the ball rolling!

Questions? Email me at meghan@meghangodorov.com.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

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How Do I Adult? 4 Strategies that Answer this Question

How Do I Adult? 4 Strategies that Answer this Question

A funny question you might be thinking. I thought the same just a few weeks ago when a senior sat down in my office to have her resume reviewed and then with a concerned and a bit hesitant expression on her face asked me, how do I adult? She followed that with a full sigh, hands over her face, looking like the definition of exhaustion. I smiled at her, admiring her phrasing, and paused.

Before moving into a laundry list of ways, resources and ideas about how she could “adult,” I asked her what she meant by that phrase. Clearly it meant something to her from her own experience and vantage point.

She said that she wanted to know what her next step should be, how she could determine what she should do for the rest of her life and how to manage the upcoming transition away from college. Pretty heavy questions even when they stand alone and, together, quite the burden for a twenty-year old who hasn’t had the chance yet to experience adulthood in the context of the workplace. These questions still arise for mid-career professionals, graduate students and other career-changers.

I proceeded to answer her question, allay her fears and help her de-stress by offering one strategy for each of her questions and to get her moving in the right (and most manageable) direction. Below, I share those same recommendations for all of you.

1. Identify what you need first/now. A resume review? Space and time to reflect on your experiences? Conversations with people in your field? We often associate being an adult with choosing one career that you will do for a lifetime after you graduate. College prepares us to think, sets us up with at least a baseline set of skills and a place to grow as social individuals. To “adult” you’ll need to prioritize, prepare and plan for what is to come in whatever way you see fit. There are so many entry points to the job search process. Do you know all of the ways? If not, take advantage of these options by talking with a career coach, trusted mentor, family member and/or your college’s Career Center staff to help you determine what next step makes the most sense for you.

2. Really look at your resume. So many times we get caught up in the minutiae of our resumes. What is the best format? What should my bullet point descriptions say? What types of bullet points should I use? What font do employers like the most? All of this is important but the details do not or should not matter until you’ve really looked at your resume. Ask yourself, what are the themes of my experiences? When I talk about my work with others, are those same reflections included in my resume? Am I missing a critical experience or skills that I’ve developed that weren’t important to me until I wanted “to adult?” Perhaps you need to throw your resume out the window altogether and instead focus on” target=”_blank”>building your LinkedIn or Twitter profiles, using these sites as primary tools for your search and connecting with potential decision-makers (company or individuals) in the hiring process.

3. Join digital communities, professionally. Once you’ve built your profile Your digital imprint is now just as important as the impression you leave in person. Learn how to use LinkedIn, build your profile and consult with a career coach on how to connect effectively with professionals in your areas of interest. Converse with industry leaders on Twitter, follow and engage others on Instagram. Building credibility in these spaces will take some thought and time over time but it will pay off, giving you national and even global connections that will last a lifetime. Which groups you join and on which platforms depend on your industry’s preferences. Pay attention to those trends for greater success.

4. Take time away from your search. Give yourself a break. Honor how much you’ve accomplished up to this point in the search process by building in celebratory moments. Take yourself out for a treat (mine would be ice cream as many of you know), go to the movies with friends, watch your favorite Netflix show or go for a walk. In the “adult” race, you are better off being the tortoise than the hare to begin with. As you gain momentum and clarity, your confidence builds and the question no longer feels like one. You’ll have the answers.

As you move further into your adult life, you will face similar challenges when navigating transition. Building good reflection, branding and celebration habits now will help you hear what you need and begin to hone strategies that you will always have in your toolbox. Make it your professional mission to not let them rust.

Meghan is an advocate, blogger, speaker and educator for women who want to build a career that lasts. She coaches groups and individuals on how to navigate their professional goals, negotiate transitions, and engage in both local and national leadership opportunities. She is also the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College where she supports alumnae and students in building a community around career through on-campus and virtual programming and individual advising. Her advice has appeared in the Huffington Post, several higher education blogs for job seekers, NerdScholar, CardHub, Good.co and LinkedIn.

For a free LinkedIn profile or resume review, sign up for her newsletter at http://www.meghangodorov.com.

Follow Meghan on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Tell Me About Yourself? 3 Strategies for a Stellar Answer

Tell Me About Yourself? 3 Strategies for a Stellar Answer

Clients ask me for help with this question almost every day. Many struggle to identify the characteristics that make them unique, tell potential employers why they are interviewing for their company and deliver information about themselves that is both the right amount authentic and boastful.

Feeling prepared to answer this question can be achieved by doing the following three things:

1. Listen to your heart

Ask yourself, what is your mission or purpose for pursuing this position? Talk about it out loud to friend, trusted mentor or career coach. Nine times out of ten, they hear your passion, enthusiasm and true intent for pursuing your field or position of interest and reflect that back to you. Take what they heard and find a connection between your motivation and the company or position’s mission, goals and priorities. For example, one person asked if she could talk about the reasons why she chose her college because the values of the company matched the qualities of the campus environment, those of individual expression, collaboration and mentorship. This is exactly the kind of connections companies want you to make: thoughtful and connected to your authentic self.

A great tool to help you consider your purpose is Imperative’s purpose pattern assessment.

2. What have you done to support your mission?

Using the above client example, she now has a thesis statement upon which to base her (under 2 minute) pitch to the employer. Referring back to her resume, she can choose 2-3 examples from her experience (paid or unpaid) that illustrate her values and purpose for applying to this position. Briefly highlighting the ways you acted on your mission in essence prove your affiliation with that goal and let the employer know that you are a good fit. Remember: You do not have to tell them everything you think they need to know right away. Instead, give them nuggets of information about how your experiences tie into your mission and overall goals so that you can refer back to them when they ask behavioral question like, “Tell me about a time when…?” “Share a strength and weakness, etc.”

My goal, always, is to invoke emotions and connectedness to the employer in my first impression and that often requires this kind of reflection and tie in of your purpose to the mission of the organization or company.

3. Why/how does the company or organization fit in with your mission/purpose?

The last (essentially closing) statement you want to make will be about how the organization will allow you to continue to advance your purpose. This can be someone future-oriented which will help to preface a question they are most likely going to ask you such as, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” You are setting the stage for them to understand you briefly in the past, mostly in the present and partially in the future as those states of being relate to their company and the open position.

So let’s put it all together with an example:

Interviewer: So, Meghan, let’s get started. Please tell me about yourself.

Interviewee: Great. For over the past 5 years, my work has had three focuses: entrepreneurship, higher education and community development. Navigating careers and anchoring futures for young and mid-career professionals is how I spend most of my time. (1) At Mount Holyoke College and in my business, I advocate for women’s professional success through individualized advising, online skills webinars and and tailored programs. Additionally, I am an active member of the Alumni Association Board for Franklin & Marshall College and one of the coaches for this year’s class of a local leadership development program, Leadership Pioneer Valley (2). I’d like to continue to have strategic impact, be part of a creative and innovative institution and support women’s professional and personal leadership development (3).

Meghan is an advocate, blogger, speaker and educator for women who want to build a career that lasts. She coaches groups and individuals on how to navigate their professional goals, negotiate transitions, and engage in both local and national leadership opportunities. She is also the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College where she supports alumnae and students in building a community around career through on-campus and virtual programming and individual advising.

Her advice has appeared in the Huffington Post, several higher education blogs for job seekers, NerdScholar, CardHub, Good.co and LinkedIn. For monthly tips and advice, sign up for her newsletter at http://www.meghangodorov.com and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

© Meghan Godorov, 2015

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3 Strategies for Confident Networking and Self-presentation

3 Strategies for Confident Networking and Self-presentation

Earlier this month, my colleague from the Career Development Center and I supported a networking career event organized by the Alumnae Association at Mount Holyoke College. Keynote speaker, Susan Daniels, alumna, professor and actress, prepared students and alumnae for the event’s networking moments with activities and a message I feel compelled to share about how to help you pay attention to your comfort level, how you present yourself and how you sound to your audience (an individual or a group). She recommended three techniques actors use to center themselves before going on stage that we can borrow in order to speak and network with confidence.

1. Breathe from your belly. Many of us when we are nervous breathe in our chest, sometimes more rapidly than we might feel. In order to calm your nerves and breath, try this exercise. Place your thumb on your belly button and your hand over your stomach right below. Breathe in through your nose, letting your stomach expand like a balloon and then breathe out through your mouth slowly (about 10 counts) letting your stomach deflate completely. Repeat two more times. Since learning this technique, I have been in front of a room of people at least a handful or two more times and despite not generally feeling stressed about speaking in public, this breathing exercise has helped every time. I’d say do it any time to soothe your soul.

2. Root like a Redwood tree. Stand up straight with both feet planted firmly on the floor. Now pretend like your feet are reaching 8 feet below the surface you are standing on. Do you feel more grounded? Just by visualizing yourself in this way, extending and conscientiously rooting yourself, you feel stable and confident. Even the simple act of crossing your legs could shrink your confidence and presence in the room. Before speaking up in class, at a presentation or in a meeting, plant your feet firmly on the ground to show yourself that you are grounded.

To illustrate this point even further, Ms. Daniels shared that the redwood trees in California grow only 8 feet below the ground before extending horizontally, connecting with other redwood trees’ root systems to grow as tall and as majestically as we know them to do. Building a strongly, rooted network starts with your own extension down and, when networking, that rooting gets extended through your confident conversations and presentation. So think: Root deep and extend or connect long to find strength in collaboration for career success.

3. Shake it out. Everyone gets nervous. It is natural when we consider speaking with a professional contact of interest for the first time or in front of a group who is unfamiliar to us. To move through this, Ms. Daniels recommended that we start by shaking our hands with intention, really get them moving- don’t be shy. Next, shake your arms, getting your body moving. Without stopping from moving your hands, get your shoulders, chest, back and stomach in on the fun. Shake out your knees, ankles and feet, even your pinky toes! Now, stop. Look at your hands. How do they look? Are they still shaking? I bet not! Taking control of the shaking, calms it down. Do this in the bathroom before an event or simply shake out your hands if you do not have the time to go all out.

The sum total of these three actions will prepare you for any in-person connection, presentation or event. Doing just one can provide a great deal of comfort in a previously stressful situation for you. I recommend finding what combination works for you to be the best networker, presenter and professional you can be.

Like to read? Ms. Daniels recommends the book: Brag! How to Toot Your Own Horn without Blowing it by Peggy Klaus

Want to practice speaking with others? Consider joining Toastmasters.

Connect with Ms. Daniels (sdaniels@mtholyoke.edu) to learn about the ways she supports individuals and groups in using professional actor techniques to help presenters relax, focus and engage with their audience. She offers a number of workshops, that focus on various aspects of presentation, and especially enjoys working with women on authentic leadership and speaking with confidence.

© Meghan Godorov, 2015

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How to Be a Woman Who Asks: 5 Strategies for Success

How to Be a Woman Who Asks: 5 Strategies for Success

What does “being a woman who asks” mean to you? To me, it means knowing what you want, having the confidence to speak up about what you desire and to do so while also taking into account the perspective of the others involved in the negotiation process. In essence, being a women who asks is a woman who acts. Are you a woman who asks? Do you want to be?

As a trained facilitator of the Start Smart Salary Negotiation Workshop created by the Wage Project (2012), I’ve not only considered the strategies that lead to a successful salary negotiation for a job offer but have also thought deeply about the ways I can apply these strategies to the other aspects of a woman’s career and professional experience such as for a promotion, a professional development opportunity, moving through a conflict with a coworker or establishing rapport with a new boss/colleagues. I share below the five ways you can build your negotiation muscles for whatever you want or need in your professional life.

  1. Identify your reasons for the negotiation. Self-reflection is critical to successful negotiation conversations and should happen early and often in your career. Essentially, you can confidently negotiate for anything if you know what you want and looking inward first is the way to do so. Some questions to consider are:
    1. What is my desired next step? (in life, career, personal relationship, work relationship, etc.)
    2. What are my top 3 pains in this situation?
    3. What emotions do I associate with this situation?
    4. If I had a magic wand, what changes would I make to the situation immediately?
    5. Where do I feel most confident in this process?
    6. What yet do I need to learn?
    7. Will this opportunity allow me to grow in the ways I need?
    8. How much money do I need to maintain my lifestyle?
  2. Make a budget. Knowing what you can afford allows you to be more confident at the negotiation table. Use this worksheet, one of these apps or com to crunch the numbers. Benchmark the salary range for your type of position on websites such as the Wageproject, Salary.com, Glassdoor or NACE’s Salary Calculator. These steps will help you know if this is a good move for you financially and what is reasonable to ask for in the process. Secondly, make a “budget” or list of characteristics you seek in a workplace and rank or place percentages of importance on each factor so that you can evaluate them effectively when looking for a new opportunity or in gaining traction for a promotion. A concept is what researchers on negotiation label as the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). Knowing what you will allow yourself to minimally walk away from the negotiation with will help you negotiate comfortably and allow you to be open to the options presented during your negotiation conversation. Budgeting in both ways allows you to see your BATNA clearly.
  3. Narrow down your list of items to bring to the negotiation. Come to the negotiation table with three reasonable points of negotiation or conversation, depending on your situation (i.e. flexible schedule, a change in responsibilities, bonus, moving expenses, or suggestions for professional development opportunities). For example, if you want to talk with a coworkers about how their behavior affects your working relationship, make a list of your feelings and their actions so that you can clearly sift through what are valid concerns, emotional triggers and items to be discussed. In response, carefully crafting professional ways to respond to these factors. Knowing what you value or want from the relationship moving forward, being open to the communication and asking clarifying questions in the dialogue are solid strategies for success.
  4. Consider the cohort model negotiation strategy concept. What if women had the chance to join together by industry to change the way they use their voice, advocate for themselves and negotiate for better wages? We might be more effective in closing the gender wage gap and advocating for promotions or senior levels positions in industries where women typically are not present. Many television and movie stars negotiated together to earn millions of dollars more per episode filmed (i.e. Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld, Friends, Marvel Avengers). Why shouldn’t women be thinking like this in a similar way? The first step would be to do your research and gain perspective on what you can earn within your position or field from someone who has been there. Taking the risk to ask is a risk but how will be know, if we don’t ask? Seeking advice and mentorship is critical.
  5. Practice the negotiation conversation. Find a friend, relative or mentor and talk through what you would say in the negotiation conversation so you can work out the nerves associated with speaking up and advocating for what you want. Learn more about the person or company with whom you will have this conversation. Ask yourself: how they prefer to be communicated with? What is their history/experience with the area or topic in question. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and skills and what you would bring to the position whether you are just entering it or are trying to advance within. These are facts you can share with the employer or colleague in the negotiation process.

Finally, remember to be nice to yourself in the process of learning. The more you practice, the easier it will get.

 

Meghan is a career consultant, advocate and speaker for women’s professional success in addition to the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College. For more tips and advice, subscribe to Meghan’s monthly email newsletter at www.meghangodorov.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MeghanGodorov.

 

Copyright © 2015 Meghan Godorov

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