July 7, 2008

Why Burn Bridges?

Posted in On the Job tagged , , at 10:00 pm by Katelyn

I have read several articles and overheard one conversation recently about companies that do not wish their employees well when they move on to bigger and better jobs/positions.  I am floored by this attitude!  The management at companies like these take a resignation very personally rather than understanding that it’s just business.  In many situations, I think employees have no choice but to move out in order to move up.

Perhaps I am naive, but I always thought that if you performed your job well, took a new job because it was a better fit or an advancement for your career, gave your employer ample notice, and resigned by thanking them for all they taught you, then an employer should be happy for you and happy to provide a great reference.  I guess the companies mentioned above must be the best places ever to work if they think that no one should ever want to leave.

Doesn’t this situation go against the very core of what business is?  I am always thinking to the future and therefore try to hold all contacts close and not burn bridges because you never know when that contact may have something you need.

Have you ever worked for a company like the ones mentioned – who are offended rather than supportive when an employee is ready to move on?  Or have you had a great experience with moving on to a new position?  I am curious to compare my own GREAT experiences with yours and see which is more common.

June 16, 2008

Verbal Fluency

Posted in Life, On the Job tagged , at 8:33 pm by Katelyn

Read With The Lobsters! – Every weekend, Katelyn and Lindsay discuss the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi in an effort to sharpen networking skills.

Chapter 17, The Art of Small Talk, is great because it’s one of those chapters that allows you to walk away feeling confident that you have the tools to improve one small skill within the massive toolbox for networking. The reason it should be easy to master? It is simply about being honest and listening. Ferrazzi states, and I agree, that having the skill of easy conversation is not something you are born with, it is something you learn. And there should be motivation to learn, because the most common characteristic of successful people is verbal fluency. So let’s aim to master it.

It is easy to spot those who are uncomfortable, or who have yet to master the skills of small talk – they are the ones who can’t stop commenting on the rain we are supposed to get this afternoon or how hot it is outside. Sure those conversation starters are fine for a quick brush with a colleague when you really don’t want to have a conversation that lasts longer than 15 seconds, but when you want to connect with someone you have to be more memorable than the weather.

One of my favorite passages from this chapter reads, “I’ve always told people I believe that every conversation you have is an invitation to risk revealing the real you. What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t respond in kind. So what. They probably weren’t worth knowing in the first place. But if the risk pays off, well, now you’ve just turned a potentially dull exchange into something interesting or even perhaps personally insightful — and more times than not, a real relationship is formed” (p. 147).

I completely relate to that. I would have said that up until maybe even a few months ago, I would have tailored my conversation topics to match my co-workers or whoever I was with, because the real me didn’t “appear” to fit in with them. But if I would have applied Ferrazzi’s words, I could have risked revealing the real me, and even if a great relationship didn’t come of it, maybe we would have had some interesting conversation between two “different” people. I also agree with being up front about your vulnerabilities. I have formed some of the best working relationships in my current job by being up front and saying that I’m not sure of what I’m doing. The majority of the time, the other person didn’t know either and then we could commiserate together and it resulted in us having a stronger bond.

The other half of learning the art of small talk, is learning the art of listening. People feel important when you make them the center of your attention and play off of what they are saying. Ask questions based on their last statement or tag team their thought to lead into yours. Always pay attention to names and say it again at the end of the conversation – “let’s get coffee sometime Lindsay. I’d love to hear more about that show you’re working on.”

So be observant at work or school or when you’re out in public. Listen to other people’s conversational styles and pick out what you like and use it as your own. Be all honesty and all ears and you will be on your way to mastering verbal fluency!

June 8, 2008

Effortless Consequence

Posted in Life tagged , at 2:34 pm by Katelyn

Read With The Lobsters! – Every weekend, Katelyn and Lindsay discuss the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi in an effort to sharpen networking skills.

“When your day is fueled by passion, filled with interesting people to share it with, reaching out will seem less like a challenge or a chore and more like an effortless consequence of the way you work” (p. 104).

This is the final paragraph of chapter 12 – Share Your Passions – and I took away more from these few lines than I took away from the other 5 pages in this chapter.

Go ahead, read that closing paragraph again…

Ferrazzi is calling us to a life where networking isn’t really networking, it’s simply being excited enough about your passions that you want/need to share that with others.  Then it’s continuing to FILL your life with interesting people, whether they be fully interested in your passions or passions of their own.   So to me, this isn’t really about networking at all, but about finding the passion in your life and then seeing it as your responsibility to  spread it.

It’s true when you think about it – people who are in love with something, whether it’s their business, music, politics, a community organization, etc. you get wrapped up in it and you feel a connection to that person.  You feel vested in their passions because you see the way it makes them feel.  That can be one strong network.

So what about those of us who are still in search of that passion that can’t be contained and has to be shared?  I think that we start our networks based on those who share our interests.  We can easily form connections with people who enjoy running as much as we do, or who enjoy the same band that we love.  So we start from there as we continue to soul search and experience as much as possible in our search for our passions.  When we’ve found that fire, whenever it may be, that is when we will be able to form connections with all types of people who will be drawn in by the excitement we have for what we believe in.  Our network will be an effortless consequence of the way we live.

April 20, 2008

A New Approach

Posted in Careers, Life tagged , , at 8:33 pm by Lindsay

Read With The Lobsters! – Every weekend, Katelyn and Lindsay discuss the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi in an effort to sharpen networking skills.

Networking is no longer a dirty word. 

Until now, I’ve always felt that networking was just a nice way of saying “using people” and I’m sure to some people, that’s all it is.  But Ferrazzi explains that in reality, networking is all about helping people.  He says,

“The more people you help, the more help you’ll have and the more help you’ll have helping others.  It’s like the Internet.  The more people who have access, and use it, the more valuable the Internet becomes.” Page 16

When you think of networking in this light, it becomes easier and more fun.  View networking as a way of contributing value to the whole group, and know that you are not the only beneficient.  The more people you help, the greater your network of connections become.  No matter what level of your career you’re at, there are always people you can help.  Keep your eyes open for situations where you can be of service to a friend or colleague. 

Ferrazzi says that another way to make networking more positive is to involve your passions in the process.  He suggests ideas like bringing someone along to participate in a shared hobby or a mid-day coffee break at a cafe – something other than a standing meeting in an office.  I think this is a great way to shift the focus onto making a friend, instead of just making a business connection.  It’ll make the relationship more personal and more beneficial for all involved. 

What are your views about networking?  What are the best ways you’ve found to connect with people?

April 13, 2008

Friends Remain

Posted in Careers, Life tagged , at 8:28 pm by Katelyn

Read With The Lobsters! – Every weekend, Katelyn and Lindsay discuss the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi in an effort to sharpen networking skills.

This weekend I finished reading Section One (The Mind Set) of Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone. These are great introductory chapters that outline the need for a network and motivate you to alter your mindset and go out there to make lasting relationships & friends.  The summary points at the end of chapter 2: “Don’t Keep Score” are what really stuck with me from this section.

“Business cycles ebb and flow; your friends and trusted associates remain” (p. 21).

“Job security?  Experience will not save you in hard times, nor will hard work or talent” (p. 21).

Both of these statements really hit home for me in our current economic times.  I feel increasing uncertainty for not only what my personal career holds for me, but how the economy will effect my ability to find my dream job.   What I am learning when it comes to finding or landing the job you want is the importance of having contacts rather than an impressive resume.  And wouldn’t it be great if those contacts were not simply a friend of a friend, but someone you have a relationship with who can really vouch for you?

For now, I feel grateful to have a job I feel secure in, where I am learning and growing professionally.  I know though, that this will not be my last job, and I know that when I am ready to move on, I will need the help of those within my network.  Without knowing exactly where I want to go next, I am going to make it a point to meet and build relationships with people from all different areas of business and service, because you never know where they may be able to help you in the future.  So I plan on using this time while my job is good and steady to meet people and network as much as possible, so that when the timing is right, my relationships will be in place.

Speaking of building our careers and changing jobs – Ferazzi mentions a branding idea that I have heard before, but would like to mention here.

“Each of us is now a brand.  Gone are the days where your value as an employee was linked to your loyalty and seniority.  Companies use branding to develop strong, enduring relationships with customers.  In today’s fluid economy, you must do the same with your network.”

I plan on creating lasting impressions and really looking for relationships rather than simply a collection of business cards.  I plan on giving/helping before receiving.

I’ll keep you posted on my continued reading of this great-so-far book and also of my own networking experiences now that I am motivated and reminded of their importance.

March 18, 2008

Organizing your networking

Posted in Careers, Life, Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:01 pm by Katelyn

Whether it’s an old-fashioned Rolodex, a nifty binder of business cards, an extensiveRolodex Outlook address book, or a self-made spreadsheet, keeping a running list of contacts is essential for any career-oriented person, especially Millenials who are just starting out and will change jobs frequently.  Networking, in my opinion, is the best and most successful way to find a job.  Most employers would rather hire someone who comes with a recommendation from one of their contacts than someone they don’t know.  That means, every business card or person you meet should be entered into some sort of database.

Right now my personal contact database is in a variety of locations.  I have a personal address book, an old-fashioned Rolodex, and my Outlook address book for work.  I’m looking to stream-line my office space and am undecided as to the best way to organize all the contact information I’ve gathered.  I am leaning toward keeping my Rolodex as a place to store the business cards I collect and creating a spreadsheet where I can easily search for information.  It should include how I met each contact, their field of work, and the date at which I last spoke or met with them.

Do you have a set system for keeping track of all your contacts?