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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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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Top 5 Mistakes Smart Employees Make and How to Avoid Them

Top 5 Mistakes Smart Employees Make and How to Avoid Them

Smart people make mistakes. We are human after all so what are some ways that we can mitigate mistakes? See my five tips below both from personal experience as well as from my observations of others in the workplace.

1. Not actively reflecting on goals and experiences. I know this can be a daunting task for many but by not doing so, you may end up choosing a field that does not match your personality, goals, natural insights or ways of working. Smart employees are focused employees who make a transition and seek opportunities for advancement based on what will truly make them happy both personally and professionally.

2. Not asking. Considering that the worst answer to most questions that advocate for what you want professional is “No,” I consistently advise on how to prepare for the ask, whatever it may be. Women especially fall victim to not asking because of the fearing of asking for what they want. Practice speaking up and clearly write down your reasons for making the ask so you can establish a solid foundation for speaking up. Finally, practice your pitch, considering all options and possible responses to increase your confidence. Confident employees are smart employees.

3. Not being able to identify and curtail demonstrating passive aggressive behaviors. Fellow professionals are able to see right through your fake kindness and collaborative persona. The last thing you want is to spoil your reputation with your most first degree network, resulting in ill feelings towards working with you. Smart employees pause first to consider the implications of what you write in your emails, opt whenever possible to have face-to-face conversations with coworkers instead and step away from a situation for a moment to neutralize your emotions and be productive and rationale in your response perhaps a few hours or day later when you have had the chance to cool down.

4. Not developing patience in times of transition. It is not fun waiting for the sun to shine but digging in and trudging through can really demonstrate commitment, dedication and your willingness to be uncomfortable with uncertainty. Knowing how to transcend uncertainty and still thrive in your own career and development will provide you with a great deal of content for future interviews and will build resilience—a skill every smart employee needs.

5. Neglecting to build community. It is important to be present and to access the resources that will keep you fresh and engaged with the people who care about the same things, personally and professionally, that you do. Your network is your greatest asset and your personal growth is just as important as your professional growth. Why not be smart and do it at the same time! Join the company softball team, organize meet and greets on your campus, volunteer for a local organization such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters or the local humane society.

 

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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How Millennials Can Empower all of their Colleagues in the Workplace

How Millennials Can Empower all of their Colleagues in the Workplace

With so much talk about the changing workplace landscape, the Millennial generation has been under the microscope.  Some harbor negative feelings related to this scrutiny and attention, others have taken the opportunity to assert generational preferences and to bring forth perspectives that are rich and positive. I spend countless hours in my work assisting clients of many generations with their resumes and cover letters, identifying personal and online resources for job-searching as well as in-networking. However, the trouble is that oftentimes they want to pay little attention to the anticipation, preparation and processing of workplace dynamics. It is a joint effort. There are articles providing employers with information about what Millennials really want out of work and Lindsey Pollak wrote about how to attract millennials to your workplace. I’d like to offer a few tips to Millennials for not just recognizing that three generations exist in the workplace but how to act on that knowledge and productively meld the generations together in the workplace.

  1. Pause first before reacting to a situation with a colleague. If you take a step back from your own emotional triggers and even ask your colleague a question that will help both you and him/her process what is going on, you can assert that you would like to take some time to digest the situation and come back.  I think a lot of damage can be done in the workplace just because we do not take time away from the situation before moving forward.  Miscommunication occurs and stress as well as dissatisfaction follow.
  2. Invite a colleague with more years of experience with the companyto coffee (this person does not necessarily have to be senior in rank to you) to hear more about the history of the work in your department/office. Learn about their workplace preferences and share yours as well.  Seek to understand in order to be understood. Extending this simple gesture demonstrates that you respect their work and are open to developing a professional relationship that could turn into a mentor-mentee connection.
  3. Talk to other Millennials not only in your own workplace (if they exist) but also in other companies and organization. Learning more about how similar or different your experiences have been
  4. People are people and we are all still feeling the pressure and negative effects of the economy. Be human in your workspace.  If you value clocking in and out, then find a position that allows for that but if you seek to build a workplace environment where you can share information about who you are as an individual, then spend some time getting to know your colleagues outside of their roles.  That is how we understand where others are coming from and we can be certain to treat each other respect when we know a little more about them than just the transactions you have with them in your work setting.
  5. Generations previous to you have worked through changing workplace dynamics previous to your arrival.  While that statement may sound crass, just because the media and others are talking about the huge shift Millennials are going to make in the workplace on a macro level, this  does not mean that on the micro level shifts and changes have not been made previously.  We need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Humble communication and information seeking will go much farther in making seamless transitions than clinging to the media’s aggrandization of the changes occurring and more of them to come.
  6. Remember that the old generation of Millennials will have to help the younger generation of Millennials transition into the workplace as we take on supervisory roles. Think back to the struggles you may have faced in a new job and be empathetic to their experience whether or not someone has done so for you previously.
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5 Ways Recent Graduates Can Manage Time in their Job Search

5 Ways Recent Graduates Can Manage Time in their Job Search

What is the best move a college grad can make to get their first professional job?

What do they need to do first?

What’s the best move they can make?

What’s your best, most creative tip?

Be aware of what you want and then seek assistance in identifying the resources you will need to learn more.  Review job descriptions for the positions and fields that interest you both now and perhaps in the future so you can know what to pursue early on in your career. Talk with your college’s Career Center, alumni, faculty mentors, family and friends about your interests so they can refer you to people they know for informational interviews.

The best move you can make is to start when you are ready. Many students feel pressured to begin when their priorities are not in line with what is beyond graduation. Honoring where you are is half the battle. Respecting the space you are in will work in your favor in the search process and landing that first professional job. Spend time crafting a targeted resume, a well-thought-out and authentic cover letter and find your focus when preparing answers to typical interview questions such as “Tell me About Yourself?” and “Why do you want to work in this field/at this company?”

One of the best tools for your job search is time management. There are so many tasks associated with the job search process, so it can often feel like you are not making progress. These steps will help:

1. Spend 10 minutes each week writing or at least thinking about 2-3 key areas you’d like to cover in your search.

2. Set manageable, strategic and smart goals.

3. Designate one or two 30-minute blocks aside to complete those tasks.

4. Think about the time you might spend on social media and other activities and shift one to two hours for your search.

5. Each week, go back to step 1 and reflect on what you were able to accomplish. Then, start fresh with a new plan or goals.

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6 Tips to Prepare You for a Phone Interview

6 Tips to Prepare You for a Phone Interview

  1. Revisit the resume and cover letter you submitted for the position and take a look again at the job description to remind yourself why you applied and how/why you are qualified.(Note: Always keep a copy of each document with the job description on your computer.  This way, it will be easy to revisit your materials and you won’t have to desperately search for what you submitted. It can be stressful when you apply to so many and then they start calling you for interviews and you feel like your materials are in disarray).
  2. Consider your experiences and develop 5-8 stories you can tell that will support what you are claiming to bring to the table. Remember, you need to substantiate what you claim and be prepared to speak to everything you have listed on your resume.  In an interview, you will be asked to expand upon your experiences as well as connect those experiences to the needs the company has and for the position that is available. The kinds of questions that require stories are behavioral-based. In order to successfully prepare for these kinds of questions, you can use the formula,S.T.A.R: Situation, Task, Action and Result. You start by analyzing and presenting the situation you faced.  Next, you provide the employer with the task(s) at hand that were necessary to employ to move through the situation. These tasks will have produced actions that needed to be taken. So, for this piece of the formula, you will want to talk about what you did to address the problem and task(s) at hand. Finally, you want to describe to the employer what the results were of your efforts.  Reflection is truly a necessary component of behavioral questions. Employers want to know what you learned from the experience and how you will bring those lessons in a constructive way to the work that you will be doing for them.
  3. Prepare answers to questions such as “Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you want to work for _____ company” as well as “What are your strengths? Weaknesses? A phone interview is just a first screening of your candidacy. Your resume and cover letter piqued the employer’s interest and now they want to learn more about you. First, spend some time writing your answers down on paper and then setting up a time to practice with your college’s career counseling staff. Additionally, I believe that one of the greatest aspects about the phone interview is that you can have your notes in front of you. Of course, you do not want them to hear in your voice that you are just reading from a piece of paper, but having that “safety net” can be reassuring, especially if you doing a phone interview for the first time.
  4. Many of your career centers, libraries and community centers offer a quiet, professional space within which you could hold your phone interview.  You may need to reserve the space ahead of time but it is often an underutilized resource provided to you by the career center. I would inquire about this once when you are applying for positions so you can be prepared in advance of hearing back from an employer that you have an interview with them.
  5. Do your research about the company and the individuals with whom you will be interviewing. Look at the company’s website, their biographies on the site and try to find your interviewers on LinkedIn to gather more information about their professional interests. Doing this research will help you prepare questions for the interviewers.  It is just as important for you to be assessing whether or not you want to work for them and coming up with questions to evaluate that component of it as it is for them to be determining if you are a good fit for their company.
  6. Find stuffed animals or figurines to which to assign each person with which you are speaking on the phone. This way, you can speak to the object or animal when talking to them on the phone and perhaps that will help you with your delivery and tone.  It can also help you keep track of each individual on the call.
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