5 Power Words For Today’s World

manners maketh mann

Communication in the current state of the world has evolved – or degraded – to short, concise communication.  Think texting, tweeting and any other short form of communicating.  It is a ‘tell me quick and tell me now’ kind of philosophy.

Even in resumes, you want to get your message across quickly, clearly and succinctly; less words more white space.  You have seconds and inches to get attention and make an impact.

I live in this world. I get the purpose and power of short communication.

With that being said, there are five words that are being more frequently dropped from communication outside the resume: face to face, emails, Skyping, phone calls, networking, introductions, casual conversations – the list goes on.  They need to come back. Pronto.

These five words are power.  These words are ones that most people know yet are neglecting to use, normally on the premise of time.

Without further ado, here are the five words:

Please  ~  Thank You  ~  I Apologize

I am a huge fan of manners.  Like Harry the Kingsman says: “Manners Maketh Man”.  I remember reading Miss Manners in the newspaper as a kid.  When I tell my dogs to do something, instead of ‘good boy’ sometimes I say ‘thank you’. Yes, I was a bit of an odd child and possibly an even odder adult.

My parents and grandmother instilled the importance of manners in me while growing up.  I instilled it in my son. Sometimes I think my lessons took in a little too deep when, as a child, he would hold the door open for someone and if they did not say ‘thank you’ he would blurt out rather loudly, ‘You’re welcome’ after they were well clear of the door.

Poor boyfriend.  He is a Chief in the Navy and it is sometimes difficult for him to adjust when he gets home.  What is a request on base sounds like a command at home without the power words.  Although, he does realize he has not made the transition to ‘home mind’ when, after a command, I simply look at him and say, “Please?”

In everyday communication, without manners, without these power words, what we say or write can come across as commands.

This week I have received a few commands, which prompted me down the rabbit hole of manners and ultimately here writing this.

  • “Send me this”
  • “Call me this afternoon”
  • “Go to our website”
  • “I got it.”
  • “I’ll reschedule”
  • Do this. Do That.
  • You are not important.
  • My time is more valuable

These last three can be construed as the real message without power words. How much more respectful, professional and inviting would it be to simply put a ‘please’, ‘thank you’ or ‘I apologize’ in there?  A lot!

By the way, I am using “I apologize” instead of “I am sorry” for a specific reason.  I am sorry is too often overused and ignored by most people.  It can be seen as a canned response or knee jerk reaction.  When my son was growing up, and to this day, when he says, “I’m sorry” I follow up with “For what?”  I make him explain why his is sorry to make sure it is not a canned response. I would not suggest doing this with your network.

I know we have such limited time in the day.  There are times that I am being absent minded or rushed and I forget to say please or thank you.  I hate when I do this.  When I realize it, I go back.  Yes, I do. I re-respond apologizing for sounding blunt or rude and then thank them or ask nicely properly.

There are also times that you need to respond quickly to someone you know well.  In the rare occurrence that the boyfriend sends me a link or message during the day, I do respond with “Got it” because I know he is very busy and not engaged in ‘home thinking’.  This, for him, is good manners – recognizing that I received his communication, the thank you will be said later in home-mode. So yes, you can get a pass now and then.

Other than that, no.  There is no excuse for not using manners and showing appreciation or recognition to those that you are interacting with at some level.

I realize there might be some that doubt how powerful these words really are, so let’s try this: test it.  For a few days or a week, be very mindful in your communication and start adding ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to your communication.  After the designated timeframe, evaluate the communication that ensued.  I would bet dollars to donuts that the responses were more open, communicative and your messages were received in a more positive manner.

Please try it, if for no other reason than to start a return of manners. Thank you.

 

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A little about me: I do what I love: help leaders break out of a suffocating corporate existence and into a position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right

 

 

 

 

Are You Expecting Too Much From Your LinkedIn Profile?

confidenceAs a resume writer, career and business coach I am one of the first people that will tell you how important a LinkedIn profile is – a good LinkedIn profile – for you and your career/business.

 

I will also tell you that it will be a very good tool to use in combination with other factors of your job search/business building.

 

However, it is not the miracle worker and should not stand alone.

Give it a break, it is a piece of your overall communication, not the be-all, end-all everything in one problem solver!

 

Too often individuals will craft a LinkedIn profile and expect that once they upload it the phone sill start ringing off the hook, offers will pour in the door and the sky will open to let a light and chorus of angels sing “hallelujah” as all the rights will be wronged and business will pick up or the right job will be offered.

 

That’s a lot to expect out of one piece of the puzzle, don’t you think?

 

Let’s review what your LinkedIn profile is or should be:

 

  • An inviting personal narrative where you are speaking directly to your targeted audience.
  • An opportunity for you to add your personality into communicating your value.
  • A brief narrative written in first person to build a connection.
  • An invitation for further communication.

 

In other words, this is either step one or step two in a multi-step process.  Often recruiters or hiring managers are reviewing LinkedIn profiles after they read a candidates resume.  Prospective clients will also check out your LinkedIn profile after hearing about you, your company or reviewing any prior company information (like a website).

 

In that case it is step two.  It could be the first encounter that someone has had with you so that would be step one.

 

If it is step two it needs to add further dimension and depth.  Let them see you.  Express in your own personal way how you add more value than the other guy, are an expert in your field or the contractor of choice.  Give them another take away as a second touch.

 

If it is step one you are setting the stage for the above.

 

In either case the point is to engage and invite further communication – without demands or outrageous expectations.

 

Do not think that just by reading your LinkedIn profile that is enough to sign the deal.  They are still going to want to talk to you, find out more and make a decision on their own that you are the right person.

 

Use LinkedIn to set the stage for that next level of communication.  If you are job searching are their certain skills, value or ability that are important for your next position?  Then these should be highlighted and given enough leeway for further communication.

 

In other words: you don’t need to tell them every single aspect – just enough to demonstrate your value and create the desire to find out more.

 

If you are utilizing LinkedIn to build your business speak directly to your client’s needs and follow the same principle: demonstrate your value and create the desire to find out more.

 

Invite them to connect with you and why they should.  As a general rule we make decisions when they are easy to make.  Give me the information I am looking for, an easy way to contact you and a reason to do so and I am more likely to reach out.

 

But make sure you are ready for that next communication.  Are you following up, are you available to respond, are you presenting the same context and tone that you established in your LinkedIn profile?

 

If I am impressed with your profile and the tone of your message but then speak to a person who is disinterested or worse – do not get a response at all, I will quickly dismiss you as a candidate or prospect.

 

I want to make sure the person I read about and felt connected to is the same person I speak with either by phone, email or in person.  If there is any difference it will create confusion and that will end any prospective deal.  I don’t like being confused or dealt with the responsibility of figuring out which person you really are – it is exhausting.

 

Do you have a resume or business communication that mirrors your LinkedIn?  They should not be the same, but similar.  If a recruiter has already read your resume and sees that your LinkedIn is simply a copy and paste of that they are going to think you are a one trick pony.

 

Remember – a resume and business communication are more of an arm’s length communication.  You are not sure who all will be reading it so you have to make sure it is professional, yet comprehensive for the potential audience.  LinkedIn profiles are to be written more as speaking directly to that one person reading it.  A personal connection written in first person where it is expected to use words like “I”, “me”, “my” and “mine”.

 

Bottom line: make sure your LinkedIn profile is written in congruence with your other business tools, utilized as a communication stepping stone and that you are prepared to continue the message during subsequent contacts.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

Word Swap: Leader vs. Manager on a Resume

QuestionsI have a pet peeve phrase that I am on a one person crusade to eliminate, especially during the interviewing process: people person.  Ick.  That is my professional, grown-up synopsis of that phrase: ick.  When someone would tell me they were a “people person” I always wanted to respond, “I’m a dog person.”  It is just such a meaningless, ambiguous phrase.

 

The word manage or manager has the same effect on me.  It is generic.    It is another ick word for me.

 

I have seen a trend in replacing “manager” with “leader” in a general way on resumes.

 

That would be great if it were earnest.

 

However, replacing the word does not negate the meaning.

 

In my opinion as a professional resume writer and coach, manager and leader have a much different meaning.  In a nutshell a manager oversees while a leader creates and drives.

 

When you use the term manager or manage in your resume you are leaving your audience short-handed.  Because it is such a generic term they need the parameters of what you do in order to determine what type of manager you were – and if you were any good at it.

 

Think about it, in your own experience I am sure you have had different types of managers.  There are those that tell you what to do, retreat to their office, never communicate and bring more of a dictatorship style environment.

 

Then there are managers that coach, mentor, communicate, roll up their sleeves and dive in to make sure you and the team is on pace, progressing and surpassing expectations.  They listen, they help you become a better individual contributor while bringing cohesion and engagement to the team.

 

If you were a manager, which one were you?  In not giving the parameters you are allowing your audience to decide based on their personal experiences.  Not a wise move.

 

Replacing manager with leader is not enough to demonstrate which type of manager you were or are now.

 

I’ll say it again: you have to give parameters.  How did you lead, what were your actions, how did you contribute, what did you do to help individual performers, the team overall and the company as a whole and what were the results?

 

Unless you prove it, simply giving yourself a better sounding title is not enough.

 

In business communication you have to prove it.  Consumers are wise, we don’t believe everything we read, we are skeptical, we want proof and then we want you to prove it again.  Consumers in this situation are your clients or prospective employers.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, there are certain environments where you need managers who are setting the targets and hands off – type one above.  It is fully dependent on the environment and industry.  If this is what is needed by your prospective employer and this is you then by all means sell it.  Be the manager they need.

 

Know your audience, their needs and your value.  When the two match then it is your job to prove it.  Not just by using one word over another, but by demonstrating your value by describing all the parameters and results.

 

Don’t get lazy and do a word swap – take the time to identify what you bring to the table and articulate that to your audience in order to assure they have a full understanding of who you are, what you do and most importantly what you can do for them.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

Stop Trying to Please Everyone

square peg round hole

It does not work.  Period.

 

Well, this could be a short blog today…

 

 

Let’s just take a look at this in terms of communication – your business or personal communication.

 

By this I mean your resume or business communication, i.e. websites, promotional material, business bios etc.

 

Stop trying to herd the masses and focus on your intended audience.

 

One of the biggest mistakes I see with these types of communication is trying to make yourself a one-size-fits-all.

 

Resumes

 

Let’s take someone in sales as an example.  This individual could take a position as a Sales Representative, a Sales Manager or a Sales Trainer.  They have the skill set and experience for all three positions, it is just a matter of opportunity.

 

They should utilize a different resume for each type of position.

 

Each resume should focus on the specific position at hand and speak directly to that position, even thought the resumes are going to be similar.

 

Think of the 80/20 rule.  If this person was targeting a management position then the resume should focus 80% on their management qualifications, value and deliverables and 20% on actual sales/training background.  Of course the training can be rolled into the management side.

 

If they want a Sales Representative job without the management aspect then the resume should focus 80% on their sales experiences, results and value and 20% on the additional value, skills and abilities from their previous positions.

 

The resume should speak directly to the position for which you are applying making it easier for the reader to see you in that role.  This makes them more inclined to call you.

 

Sending out a broad based resume is putting the work on the reader to try to determine where you fit in the organization.  Honestly, they do not have time to do this.  More importantly, if you don’t know what you want why is it their job to figure it out for you?

 

Business Communication

 

If you are in sales or running your own company you know your market.  If you don’t you better figure it out before you attempt to communicate with anyone.  If you don’t know who you serve then you don’t serve anyone.

 

People  hire you because the service you provide, value you offer and positive treatment of your clients.   Know your value, know your audience and speak directly to them.  Stop trying to sell yourself across all lines of business, groups, individuals and industries.

 

Be honest – not all prospects are ideal clients for you.  Know who your ideal audience is and address their concerns.  Let it go that you will not appeal to everyone, remember, you don’t want everyone, or just anyone – you want your ideal client.

 

I am not staying offend the unwanted audiences, but write your message in a way that does not engage them.  How: by not speaking to their needs.  Using broad, overall comments or proclamations gives the indication that you will take anyone on as a client.  Not true.

 

Let’s use the example of a Financial Advisor.  Their target audience is established individuals or couples in a specific age range in an income range who work in the health care industry.  If they presented themselves as the solution to everyone they might get a hit on their target market every now and then, but they will also get a lot of hits from a wide audience that does not fit this criteria.  This means a lot of time “weeding out” the leads that do not match their criteria.

 

That is a lot of wasted time, on both sides.

 

Writing their website, bio or promotional material in such a way that speaks directly to their audience helps them align with their targets because they are speaking their language, know their needs and demonstrate their expertise in being able to address, and solve them.

 

It will narrow down the number of contacts they receive, but it is worth it to get fewer, quality leads rather than numerous, dead-end inquiries.

 

 

You are a unique individual with specific skills, value and abilities.  Present yourself as the solution to the audience you want to engage rather than a possible fit for just anyone.

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com

 

 

 

The Most Important – and Often Missing – Piece of Your Communication

finger pointingResumes, LinkedIn profiles, business biographies, “about us” website blurbs, networking elevator pitches – these are all important forms of communication when either looking for a job, looking for your next career move or building business.

 

As a writer and coach the one thing that I see more often than not that is missing in all of these consistently across all levels of industries, job types and personalities is the most important factor:

 

You

 

That’s right – I would be dollars to donuts that you are missing from your own resume, business bio, LinkedIn profile and networking speeches.

 

Now think about that for a moment – if these are the key pieces in building interest and engagement in being hired wouldn’t it make sense that you are predominately featured in each?

 

Yes, it would make sense, but it rarely happens.

 

You see, more people are focused on giving cliff-note version bullet points of their past rather than providing an accurate description of themselves including their value.

 

Giving me a brief summary of your past only tells me what you were hired to do – it does not tell me if you actually did it, did it well or how you did it.

 

Business is distinctly different from the stock market in the fact that past successes are an indicator of future successes.

 

But it is not just the success – it is how you did it.

 

Two people can be hired as a worker, manager or leader but that does not mean that they do things the same way, or get the same results.

 

What makes you different, who do you work with, how do you work with them, what is it that you do, how do you do it and what is the value that you bring in doing what you do?

 

If you are a manager are you a strictly by the numbers manager or a mentoring, team oriented yet encourage individual growth manager?  How would I know this if you don’t tell me?

 

I may be looking for a manager but I want one that fits my culture, therefore it is important for me to know just what kind of manager you are, not just what you can get done.

 

Talk to your audience.  Let them know who you are not just what your title is because frankly, titles mean nothing.

 

I own my own company so I could give myself the title of Queen, Supreme Ruler of Resumes, Career and Business Coach Extraordinaire – but does that tell you anything about what I do?  No.  You may have an idea, but coaches/writers each have their own style and that is the difference between whom you hire.

 

On my LinkedIn profile and website I go into a bit more detail of how I do what I do which allows visitors to get a sense of me, not just my skill set.

 

People will hire you for you.  You can be trained on certain widget skill sets, but the bottom line is the value that you offer is the gateway to engagement.  Once that door has been open you can then engage the right audiences.

 

Put you back in your communication to start opening those doors!

 

 

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

www.CareerPolish.com