How To Stop RBF From Killing Your Communication

 

“Body language is fluff.”
I was told this recently. I didn’t say a word. My responding body language to that statement said it all, and the message was heard loud and clear by this person. They immediately started backtracking and justifying their statement.
The irony of that was not lost on me. Here they were telling me that body language is not important yet changed their tune to pseudo-apologetic mode in response to my body language.
You’re right, fluff.  Not important at all. Using my not so subtle sarcastic voice
My passion about body language came from a fascination and a necessity.
The necessity came from the fact that I have a Scarlett O’Hara Resting Bitch Face (RBF). This face is when you look mean, unintentionally, when your face is expressionless. During an interview coaching exercise, I accidentally slipped into this when working with a client. She stopped midsentence, laughed a bit and told me that I scared her because I looked really mean.  Oops.
The fascination came when I realized by just changing my body language I could elicit different responses from people.  I elicited a change in the conversation by employing the RBF in the above conversation.
This phenomenon happens more for women than men, although there are some men that naturally have RBF. Think Kanye West and Jeremy Renner.  Jeremy Renner is completely aware of this, as he discusses in this funny clip from the Graham Norton Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i50-Rr6ZgHQ   He states that he is quite comfortable with his resting face because, as he says, he built a career on it.
That will not work out so well for the rest of us who aren’t playing Avengers. Research using face recognition software has stated that this look registers twice the amount of emotion as compared to a neutral face.
However, the emotion registers as contempt, which is one of the worst and most dangerous emotions for communication.  Contempt is a mix of disgust and anger, two things that can destroy any relationship.   As businesses are built on relationships, you don’t want RBF anywhere near the people with whom you interact.
What causes RBF? Many people’s mouths or eyes naturally turn down when at rest. In other words, we are born with it.
Not sure if you suffer from RBF? Do you find people ask you out of the blue:
“Are you okay?”
“Are you mad?”
“Did something happen?”
Or one of my personal favorites – “You should smile more!”
There are a few things you can do if you feel that you are slipping into RBF:
  1. Look up at the person. You might have to tilt your head a slight bit down to do so in but it will open your eyes.
  2. Slightly raise your eyebrows, this naturally opens your eyes a bit.
  3. Open your mouth, this will change the form of and can more easily lead into number four.
  4. Smile slightly. This breaks the downward lines associated with RBF.
As silly as it sounds, look in the mirror to see where you fall on the range of RBF. Then practice the above tips so they feel comfortable and natural. You will then, on command, transition from RBF to engaged face when needed.
Yes, I said as needed.  I have found RBF to come in quite handy when my son is being unruly or someone questions the importance of body language.

 

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

 

I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career that renews their brilliance.

I am triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Social Brand Analyst and Career Coach specializing in Master Level Resume/LinkedIn writing, NLP and Body Language. My clients learn to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to all aspects of their career, including: 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 ★

Advertisements

The One Question Almost Everyone Asks & Hardly Anyone Answers

Interview - how do they know you are still interested

Building a network, expanding a business, searching for a job or just being neighborly, what is one of the first questions we are asked or ask others?

What do you do?

It seems simple enough and I bet a lot of people would say that they do answer that question. What is your normal response? I’ll bet dollars to donuts it starts with “I’m a …..”

If that is your answer, you are not answering the question. Oh no you are not.

The question is what do you DO, not what is your TITLE.

Titles are boring, snippet summaries. They do not really tell what you do – except in the case of a pediatric neurosurgeon. In that case, yes, it does sum it up nicely.

But for the rest of us not saving the lives of tiny humans, our title does not – or more accurately – should not define us.

What we do is bring value to others in a unique way. It is part of what we are as a person. A title does not reflect a person. It reflects a job.  Many people can have the same title yet be on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of value, style and ability.

Take me for example. To say I am a resume writer is partially accurate. I do write resumes. I also write LinkedIn profiles. So should I say I am a resume and LinkedIn profile writer? Nope, still just the tip of the iceberg. I also coach and train on networking, leadership, communication, interviewing, negotiation, branding….and let’s not overlook that I do not just work with those who are unemployed. I work with leaders going to the next level, those who want to improve their effectiveness where they are, athletes, coaches, trainers, motivators, entrepreneurs, heads of corporations and more. I build confidence, bring out their inner rock star, support, give a little kick in the toushy when needed, challenge, celebrate… Saying I am a resume writer does not encompass all of that.

Oh, and let’s not forget – there are many others that are resume writers, coaches etc. What makes me different? Well, my work is comprehensive not volume based. I get to know my clients. I don’t rely solely on questionnaires. I really give a damn about my clients and their success. Our work is interactive, they have skin in the game. I am tenacious in getting them to where they want to be. I love what I do and bring fun into the equation. I have real conversations, ask tough questions, support them through the process and the best feeling in the world for me is when someone reads what we have put together and they say, “Holy crap – I’m awesome!”

Replying with “I’m a resume writer” really falls short of all that now doesn’t it?

So what is it that you do? How do you do it better than anyone else? And yes, you do what you do better than anyone else. How? By the way you do the thing you do, maybe by your approach or mindset. Whatever it is that makes you awesome, own it by giving yourself permission to say so. Once you figure that out, NOW you can get down to really answering the question.

So tell me, what do you do?

 

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

 

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

As the Founder and Principal 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 ★

 

 

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.

 

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

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

 

 

 

 

How I Eliminated Unprofessional LinkedIn Posts from My News Feed

solution

Yesterday I wrote an article providing insight as to possible negative consequences of posting and ‘unprofessional’ posts on LinkedIn and distinguishing among those posts. The article also described the possible negative consequences of responding in an unkind or angry manner to these types of posts.

It was a balanced article for both those that post and those that respond. It did not throw stones, merely an opportunity to learn the reasons behind why it could be a bad idea to post and respond unprofessionally.

After seeing this morning’s fed with upset and angry posts about keeping LinkedIn professional in the form of blanket statements and graphics, I realized I was selfish.

Here I was, posting a long article about the whys and offering suggestions on positive actions for change when right here in my own little head I had the solution -but I did not share it!

My apologies for being so greedy with this little tidbit.

It is easy and fast and could help a lot of people; literally anyone on LinkedIn can do it!

It is how I took control of my news feed!

Ready? Let’s do this!

Click on the down arrow on the upper right hand of the offender’s post, then:

a. “Hide this particular update” – or –

b. “Unfollow Contact Name”

The post is gone! The beauty is it takes less time to perform two clicks than rally against.

Just speaking for me, rants do not work. Angry general blanket statements to an entire network do not work.

I have never changed my behavior because someone put out a directive or angry broadcast about how a particular type of behavior was a bad, bad thing.

I change my behavior because I am either educated to make a different choice or I make the decision on my own to do so.  It is my responsibility.

Just for the heck of it, check out the article mentioned above. Share it with offenders, it might help educate them as to the damage they could potentially cause their professional image. Share it with responders, it might provide some insight as to how one could be perceived in responding in a less than calm way.

Here is the link: But WHY Shouldn’t You Post or Respond to Personal Items on LinkedIn?

One last food for thought – the CEO of LinkedIn recently posted what could be called a political post. It was of a political figure accompanied with his personal comment. I did not see one single person rally against him telling him to “keep it professional”.

This solution works for me. I like stories about victories whether personal or professional, scroll through cute animal pictures, skim over the math problems and hide posts I do not want to see.  I hid quite a few today!  All in a few short clicks.

Be a positive agent of change. Take charge of your own news feed with two simple clicks. Focus on the contacts that provide value to you, your clients and your business and how you can provide value to them.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

Let’s Replace LinkedIn Policing With LinkedIn Education & Support

linkedin police

Either there has been an increase in the number of LinkedIn Police or I am just noticing it more this week.

The LinkedIn Police are individuals who have appointed themselves the authority and voice of reason instructing the LinkedIn universe on LinkedIn etiquette such as:

1. “LinkedIn is professional and for business”
2. “LinkedIn is not Facebook”
3. “Do not post personal pictures, word hunts, math problems that only a genius could answer, memes, cute pictures of their dogs/kids and personal notices”
4. Or publicly denounce and shames other individuals who have utilized messaging to hit on them

Yes, LinkedIn is a business-driven platform. It is a venue to create and strengthen networks and business alliances.

Yet, let us not forget the one fundamental rule of networking and alliance building – it is built on relationships.

Relationships take time, effort and energy to develop. It is a process of building trust, finding synergies, understanding and discovering traits, characteristics, value and individuality in the other person. Relationships are people getting to know each other.

Throughout my professional career I have developed wonderful personal friendships and business friendships. I know the distinction and that is why I do not connect with business friends on Facebook. That is my personal platform. That is my choice.

I know others that connect with their business friends on Facebook or share their personal status updates on LinkedIn for their friends and business friends that is their choice.

My brand is defined and executed by me. As is everyone else’s brand on LinkedIn.

I am a Brand Strategist, therefore I am very well aware of the etiquette rules of LinkedIn. I help people define and communicate their brand. I have not had the opportunity to reach everyone on LinkedIn, so let’s cut them a break. I am working on it.

Although I do not post any of the hand-slapping items listed in item three above, when I see the offender updates I do one of two things:

1. I chuckle and keep scrolling
2. I simply keep scrolling

I also work through the math problems in my head just for the internal smug satisfaction of being a math genius.

There is also an option on the top of the status with a small arrow pointing down that allows you to choice either “I don’t want to see this” or “unfollow name

I agree, using LinkedIn to try to get a date is icky; but instead of publicly shaming individuals that do so, I delete the messages. Less energy given and problem solved.

LinkedIn is an integral part of the branding work I do with clients – creating individual profiles, teaching seminars, training corporate teams on strategy and implementation – yet, I am not going to join the LinkedIn Police.

Why?

No one is going to stop posting cute puppy pictures on LinkedIn because I publicly denounce them. They would probably scroll past that status update just as I scroll past their word search update.

And let’s face it, if one had the power to change other’s minds or get them to do something just because one posted it on LinkedIn – would it not be more useful to use this power for a much greater gain other than to stop potentially annoying others with the burning question of what is the first word you see?

If I had that power, I think I would use it in a different way, perhaps:

1. Adopt a fur-baby from your local animal shelter
2. Donate your time or financially to a cause near and dear to your heart
3. Be a mentor, Big Brother or Big Sister
4. Be nice to your kids, significant other, parents, friends, family, coworkers
5. Get involved in your community
6. Stop world hunger
7. End homelessness
8. Eradicate cancer
9. Eliminate illiteracy
10. Do a good deed today without expecting reward or recognition
11. Forgive yourself and others
12. Go after your dreams
13. Enjoy the day
14. Eat that piece of cake
15. Love yourself
16. Stop judging yourself and others
17. Accept your flaws and the flaws of others
18. Learn something new
19. Laugh
20. Or hey, if I wanted to be selfish: hire me!

If the LinkedIn Police are going to try to stop all the ‘unprofessional’ personal status, they might start trying to eliminate the really good ones. I like some of those personal updates. It allows me to see the person, not just the brand. They share events that are important to them.

Some of these posts share the joy of personal successes – from achieving a long standing personal goal to family member’s successes and even announcements of their child’s remission.

I will take 100 word searches every day to see one child in remission.

Many articles, tips and experts emphasize engagement is key to networking, okay, so these types of posts are not ideal; however, they are the product of someone trying to engage. I do not know of one person who posts these just to annoy the heck out of anyone else.

The LinkedIn Police may not be able to stop these no-no updates; but they do have a choice: unfollow, remove from their feed, do not do business with this person or ignore.

Since I have probably upset the LinkedIn Police and will be getting nasty grams for this, I might as well go one step further….

If you know, personally know, a person who is posting these offensive things – why don’t you personally reach out instead of publicly condemn? Why not have a conversation and ask them, “So tell me, friend, because your business is important to me – what’s your thought in posting the ‘only a genius math problem’?”

Perhaps an educational, supportive conversation will help them see that there is a better way to connect with their audience. Or, maybe they are trying to narrow down their network to geniuses.

Oh, and for the cherry on top – here is a picture of my boys,
just because they are so darn cute.

 

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice 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 LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish

and what we can do to help you.

★ In order to be kept up to date on all my articles ★
please visit LisaKMcDonald.com
★ Click the “Yes Please!” button on the right side. ★

I Did Not Connect with You on LinkedIn Because of Your Facebook Picture

facebook picture on linkedinLinkedIn is LinkedIn and Facebook is Facebook. They are two different venues, environments and interactions. Facebook is the silly, personal side. LinkedIn is the business side.

I am not going to belabor the point of mixing behavior between the two. This article is only about the profile picture, and why using a Facebook type picture on LinkedIn is preventing you from expanding your business network.

I have read many articles stating that it takes seven seconds to make a first impression – but that is if you are having an interaction. Seven seconds in meeting someone face to face or seeing their body language. How quickly do we form an impression based on a photo?

As little as 1/10 of a second.

That is what was found in a series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov. It only takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face. Click this link to read the full, fascinating article: How Many Seconds to a First Impression by Eric Wargo on Association for Psychological Science.

Here is a list of photos that I have seen that close doors on LinkedIn:

  • Wedding photos
  • Data nights – including your date and the food
  • Bar buddies – you all look like you are having a good time, plenty of cocktails and which one are you?
  • Phantom hands on shoulders – cropping the rest of the other people out, but not those hands
  • All decked out in favorite sport team gear – jersey, face paint, Mardi Gras beads
  • Holding or surrounded by children
  • Cartoons – either a meme or a characterization of yourself, perhaps ok if you are a cartoonist
  • Car shots with seat belts and back seats
  • Up the nose selfie – holding the phone at such a low angle that the inside of your nose is most prominent
  • Painful, angry or confused – not sure if the picture took, well dressed mug shot or it hurts to smile
  • Showing off favorite toys – motorcycles, cars, boats and this has nothing to do with your business
  • Are you in the shot? shots – vacation shots, dog shots, fun in the sun shots where you are merely a speck among the scenery
  • The future is so bright I gotta wear shades
  • Looking cool selfie with a full view and prominence of your arm
  • And the honest to goodness bathroom selfie complete with the shower curtain, sink and holding the phone in front of your chest

All of the above are fine on Facebook, but what value do they convey about you as a business person?  What value does your child, dog, toy, sunglasses or bathroom give your business (unless it is directly related)? My dogs are extremely photogenic and just so darn cute, but having them in my profile picture does not speak to me or my value as a career and business coach.

In other words, in the business world no one cares about those lovely attributes of your personal life unless they bring value to them as a connection, customer or prospective employer.

What comprises a good photo, one that will open doors? It is a matter of five elements:

  1. Expression – Smile. It does not have to be a full on toothy number, but at least look approachable and open. When getting your picture taken, instead of a forced smile, think of something that makes you grin – a funny line in a movie, something cute your child did, hearing praise from your boss – anything that brings a natural, genuine smile to your face without going into full out laughter.
  2. Clothing – Dress for where you want to go or what represents who you are professionally in a business casual sense. Business relaxed, not the corporate suit and tie head shot unless that is the image you and your company want to portray.
  3. Background – This is a backdrop, not the most important element of the picture; it should not be distracting or inappropriate. It does not have to be in an office environment, however, it should be the last thing someone focuses on in your photo.
  4. Proportion – Your head and shoulders should take up at least 60% of the frame, we want to see you!
  5. Likeness – The picture should be somewhat current and look like you, over the age of 40 no high school photos or glamour shots.

Unless in that 1/10 of a second you convey you are about business prospective clients, connections or employers will not take the time to accept your invitation or read your profile. LinkedIn is for business, it is all about making connections, adding value, expanding your networks and knowledge – if your picture is closing those doors you are missing the greatest of opportunities.

✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰

I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

LinkedIn – Taking a Connection to a Relationship

business high fiveLast week I had the absolute pleasure to speak to the Indianapolis chapter of Human Resource Professional Development Association about LinkedIn and utilizing it to build a personal brand internally and externally. There was one question that I think can be asked in many different ways but boils down to four words:

How do I connect?

Not in a sense of click on the connect button or accept, but how do I really connect with someone after we become connections.

I think one challenge or misconception about LinkedIn is that there is no true communication or connection. It is simple to click a button, request or accept a connection; however it leaves us feeling flat. A simple button does not open the door to communication.

The problem is not with LinkedIn – it is with the user.

The tool is only as good as the way in which you use it.

I have a small tiller. It sat in my garage for a few years all bright and shiny but useless. I also had an area in my back and side yard that was perfect for a garden. I used to be frustrated that I didn’t have a garden and how much work it would be to create that space.

Last spring I used the bright shiny tiller and created my garden. It made quick work of it and by the summer I had a wonderful garden full of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peppers, herbs, cantaloupe, watermelon and asparagus.

I could complain about not having a garden or I could use the tools I had to create what I wanted.

It is the same concept with LinkedIn.

Requesting or accepting is step one, but there is more to be done to start conversations and build relationships. It begins with a few simple steps:

Say Thank You
When someone accepts or sends you a request, thank them for the connection. It is a simple thing to do and opens the door for the other person to respond.

Be Selective if You Choose
Although some users will not allow you to send them an invitation unless you actually know them, some do not accept connections unless they see a business reason to do so.

Key word there: business reason.

You can address this either in the invitation or in the follow up. In either one, instead of using the template that LinkedIn provides for a connection request, simply put a statement such as, “I noticed that you are connected to Bob Inbox, who I worked with at DCB company…”

Follow Up Without Demanding
You have sent/accepted a connection and sent a thank you, now is time for a conversation, not a request for a coffee meeting.

Send them an inbox message and begin with – again – a business conversation or topic. It could be something about their company or position or that you appreciated a comment that they left on an article. From there you can let them know that you would like to know more about what they do, about their company or their insight on a certain matter.

Do not assume that just because someone connected with you on a business social platform that they are willing to take a couple hours out of their day to meet with you in person. Everyone’s time is valuable.

If someone immediately suggests a coffee time I ask for what purpose. I am trying to eliminate time wasting activities in order to devote my time to my clients. The hairs on the back of my neck immediately go up when I get an instant coffee message. I don’t know you, I don’t know what you want, you want me to give you at least two hours of my time and more than likely you are going to try to sell me on something.

Instant coffee meetings do not equal instant business relationships.

With a few extra minutes, consideration and thought you can start conversations that build relationships. LinkedIn provides a platform, you have to provide the effort. As LinkedIn says: “A healthy professional life starts with healthy relationships.”

Competition – A Secret Tool in Hitting Your Goals

business at the starting lineThere are three things that people notice about me immediately when meeting me in person: I am short, blond and petite. One of the first personal traits they notice about me or pick up on is that I am competitive.

I was raised by an amazing father who encouraged me in everything I did and never introduced the idea that my gender was a factor. This is the man that told me as a young girl that I could do anything a boy could do, except pee on a tree. Tell a five year old that and it sticks.

My neighborhood was filled with boys, my friends throughout adulthood have mostly been men and I raised boys. I am competitive. I do not apologize for this. Often competitiveness is seen as an undesirable quality in a woman. Like we are not supposed to want or desire certain success, stature, degrees, opportunities or ideals.

I have always found competitiveness to be a welcome trait until it isn’t. Do you know when it crosses that line from a good thing to a bad thing? When I win.

I do not take this trait to an extreme. I don’t’ go around challenging people to arm wrestling contests or make everything a no holds bar competition. Partly it is a natural tendency I keep in check and the rest of the time I use it as a fuel.

When I first entered the financial industry my boss told me that I needed to get my Series 7 in my first year and “then we’ll see if you can get your 9 and 10.” That was a gauntlet to me. The competitiveness in me took over. A competition was created within myself.

I earned my 7, 63, 65, 9 and 10 in my first year. Tell me we’ll see.

There are times that we get stuck. Whether it be looking for a new job, moving up in our current company, building our book of business or building a company we just get stuck. It is frustrating and can be debilitating. When I have found myself in the stuck places, I just want to look around and say, “I need a kick”.

So I give it to myself. I think of something, a goal, that I want to accomplish then I give myself a time period. I make it a competition within my own mind. It helps, yet there are times that it loses steam. Now I have something even better.

I have a competitive boyfriend.

We are in two completely unique and different industries and positions. We have started a friendly competition throughout the week. We set our goals and then it is game on. There are a lot of updates and “eat my dust” texts through the week. On the weekend, there is a lot of celebration of individual accomplishments. And a small victory dance.

Competition raises your bar. It helps you boost your performance, stay sharp and stay on your A Game. You suddenly find time to do the things you need to do but maybe do not want to because you are now accountable. If you don’t win, it is on you. What do you want, what have you done today to get it?

There are no excuses at the end of the week, either we make our goal or we don’t. Neither one of us is the type to say, “I would have hit it if this would have happened.” There are too many what if’s we cannot control; all we can control is our actions and reactions.

When you are going after a prospect or potential job lead put it in your mind that you are not their only candidate. You have competition. They will be comparing you to someone else to choose the best candidate or service provider. You want that to be you. You want to give it your A Game and leave nothing on the table.

When it is just you in the running you might unconsciously slowdown in the final stretch thinking it is a lock. When there is someone close behind you, that’s when you give it that final push to make sure you cross the line first.

I am not suggesting that when you go on an interview and see other candidates or leave a prospects office and see the next service provider ready to pitch their gig you tell them to eat your dust. Ok, you can say it, just don’t use your out-loud voice.

What I am suggesting instead is to create that competition in your mind with every touch you have with a client, prospect, network connection or job prospect. Know that after you hang up the phone they are going to talk to someone else. Enlist a friend to create a competition. Not necessarily competing against each other but who will hit their goal.

Competition is a great tool to make sure you walk out of every interview, client meeting and hang up every call knowing you were true to yourself, true to your value and true to your craft – and that is how you win before ever getting that acceptance call.

To be a Better Networker Don’t Try to Network

Indyfringe MagicThere are various reports, articles and statistics that reiterate the importance of networking in finding a new job or client. Networking is a vital tool in initiating new relationships, establishing your reputation and discovering opportunities.

No pressure there.

That’s the rub, there is such a high importance placed on networking that often people put so much pressure on themselves that they either:

  • Don’t enjoy it
  • Don’t succeed at it
  • Don’t do it

I would like to offer a suggestion to help take some of the pressure off and mix up the networking tactics: don’t try to network, just have fun.

Let me clarify one thing: I believe we network any time we interact with someone new, we just don’t realize it. But being reminded often of the importance of networking, we have somehow changed our concept of it. Often, it is thought of as a chore or choreographed activity.

In reality it is simply having a conversation.

My mom was the first one to teach me networking, but neither one of us knew it. When I was little and we would go to the grocery store, my mom was the one that would talk to everyone. I do mean everyone: people in line, the checkout clerk, the bag boy, people in other lines, the produce person….

I remember once she was writing a check and asked the clerk what the date was, June 14. When she heard this she told the clerk, “Oh yes, it is Flag Day.” Being about eight years old, I was mortified. It only got worse when they had a discussion of Flag Day.

But the point is, besides I have turned into my mother, that she was networking and the reason we did not realize it was because she was always having fun with it.

Last night I attended a fantastic event with a dear friend: the showcase event for the Indianapolis Winter Festival at IndyFringe. It featured snippets of the performers acts for this weekend’s festival.

Two words: mind blown.

The plan was attend the show and grab a bite after. We were quite late in getting that bite to eat because we had so much fun talking to the performers and other attendees after the show. We networked without trying because we were having so much fun. Beyond the magic, which again was amazing, here is what I gained:

• I made friends with a photographer who works at most of the fringe’s events, although he won’t be there this weekend; he and his wife have 4.5 cats and he realized one of them looks like an owl; and his wife is indeed taller than me.

• Owls are not as intelligent as we thought, it is kinda cool to watch them decapitate and eat a mouse (it was already dead) and they have teeny, tiny thin necks, the rest is feathers. The bird guy

• There is a certain theater in London that you should not wear purple because it burnt down some time ago and the performer at the time was wearing purple, also, London audiences are very polite – even if they love you they don’t really. clap Oscar Muñoz

• There are several classifications and competitions, world competitions for magicians.

• The audience, no matter the size, is the partner in the show; when performing it is a balance between performing, relating and engaging; no matter what they are doing or how long they have been doing their craft, they have this sparkle in their eye and enchanting enthusiasm with they talk about it. Trent James

• If they use cards, they buy decks by the pallet load, they are amazingly quick on their feet, adaptable and a little sly but the goal is not to have someone fall over themselves in amazement, it is a smile even from the most stoic and staunch person. Hannibal

• IndyFringe is like a magical garden to the members of the Board of Directors; they unselfishly and enthusiastically provide it with care, dedication and love transforming it into a beautiful and enchanting wondrous place to be shared with the entire community. They meticulously attend to every detail from the building of a second theater, attending to performers and guests and planning for what is next. They are parent gardeners and this is their child and they are a force of nature.

I found all these things out by talking with several people last night, by networking. I made new friends and connections. It was an absolutely successful evening of networking because my intention was not to network; it was to have fun.

Mission accomplished, and then some!

To find out more about this weekend’s Winter Magic Festival, click here. Shows are appropriate for all ages. I promise you will be amazed and possibly transformed back into childlike wonder…

Networking: Break the Rules to Make Connections

HandshakeThis morning I had the pleasure of doing one of my favorite things: talk to a group about one of my favorite topics – the elevator pitch.

If you are in business the elevator speech should not be anything new to you. It is simply 30 seconds of verbal mayhem that supports or blows up your first impression.

Your introduction is critical because all business begins with an introduction; either you introduce yourself or you are introduced via a third party.

This morning a couple of the attendees mentioned that what I presented is different than what they have heard from other professionals. What they had been told was more about structured rules, protocols and expectations.

There are many networking groups and they have certain protocols that their members or attendees are expected to follow. You should respect these protocols. As far as all the “rules” of elevator pitches, if they do not work for you – break them.

You can talk to 10 people that do what I do (career, networking, business building coaching or resume writing) and can get 12 different answers to the same question. You can also do an internet search on the topic and really get overwhelmed with advice, dos and don’ts.

Given this overload and sometimes conflicting information overload my suggestion is this: read or listen to it all then stop using your head and listen to your gut. Use what resonates with you. This morning what I said, as explained below, resonated with the audience. For them it felt like breaking the rules and it felt good!

The Context of an Elevator Pitch

If you break down networking to the core it is all about building relationships. Relationships are based on an exchange of value. Before you can build a relationship, you must first make a connection, which is the point of your elevator pitch.

Make a memorable impression

I have a hard enough time remembering names, there is no way I can remember titles. My brain filters those out because they are unimportant.

Titles are meaningless for two reasons:

1. Titles allow your audience to determine your value. If you had a friend that had an unscrupulous broker who caused them to lose all their money in the market, what do you think their personal impression of brokers would be? If they were at a networking event and someone walked up and introduced themselves as a broker, do you think your friend would have the warm and fuzzies for this person?

Your friend is assigning a negative impression and value to someone they just met solely on the basis of their title.

2. Titles do not convey value. There are certain titles that do not need to be elaborated on, for example Pediatric Surgeon. That pretty much sums it up. However, for the vast majority of us titles are ambiguous.

The Crafting of an Elevator Pitch

You are not a title, stop introducing yourself as such. Introduce yourself as your value.

Make it clear

What do you do and for whom? Break it down to the very basics. What do you do? I have a friend in insurance and he does lots of things for his clients. Planning, sells insurance, blah, blah, blah. But what does he do at the core? For him and his clients it is all about retirement. His core is preparing and guiding his clients to be able to retire when they want with the income they want.

His what is retirement his who is his clients. He changed his introduction after we spoke from “I work in insurance to help my clients plan for and …….” I am not including the rest because I am pretty sure you started nodding off after hearing “insurance”.

He now introduces himself as “I’m a retirement coach.”

Make it less (to get a response)

I was at a networking event a month or so ago and a woman and I were talking when we were approached by a young man. We followed proper etiquette and invited him into the conversation asking what he did.

That was a mistake. After two minutes we started shifting in our places, after three minutes we started shooting each other sideways glances. By five minutes we were saved by an announcement over the loudspeaker. And we still didn’t know what he did.

You want to elicit a response from your audience, preferably a positive one. Ideally you would want a question. This gives you leeway into a conversation.

My friend who is the retirement coach is almost always asked a question. He purposefully uses a very short introduction to lead to a deeper connection.

Make it personal

I love the IT industry. I have a great deal of respect for people who work in this industry. I also know they get a bad rap. I also know that a lot of them do not help themselves clear that rap. I work in branding, I work with social media and with technology. I know what I know and it enough for me at this time. I also know when I am out of my league.

When I have to call on IT professionals the first thing I tell them is “I am an IT idiot, explain things to me as you would a three year old.” I just do not get what they are talking about when they use IT verbiage. I am also not alone.

When you describe your value, describe it in a way that other people – us non-industry people – will understand. Make it relatable to me. If I can understand it and relate to it I will remember it. I cannot talk about you or refer you if I can’t remember you.

One client started introducing himself in this way, “You know when your company does a system update and you come in the next morning with a crashed computer?” pausing for a positive response “I’m the guy that makes sure that doesn’t happen.”

Make it real

This is about you so it should sound like you. Not resume you, real you. The person I am talking to right now and at any time in the future. Be authentic, be yourself. My dad told me many years ago that a lie is much harder to remember than the truth. It is much easier to be yourself in every situation than present a façade and keep it up.
Some people are going to like you, some are not – there are no two ways about it, you cannot please all people all the time. The real you will resonate with the right people, clients, prospects and organizations.

I am a straight forward, blunt and high energy. I also practice the art of effervescent witticism (sarcasm) and sometimes my language does not meet with my mother’s approval. I am this way in my blogs, seminars, talks and coaching. I am consistent. You know what you are getting. I am passionate about what I do, I give my clients my all and I celebrate their victories as much as they do.

I also am the kind of coach who tells her C-level executive client that he has a bad case of verbal diarrhea. It clicked with him and he appreciated it. He also said no one had ever told him that before (even though he knew deep down he was doing it) and I told him because everyone else was afraid he would fire them.

This does not resonate with everyone, this is why everyone is not a client and I do not want everyone as a client.

When he refers me he can tell his peers what to expect and they get it. Part of my brand is my consistency in who I am and the value I provide to my clients.

This leads me to my last point:

Make it repeatable

The more I understand what you do and how it relates to things I can understand the greater the chance I will remember you and more importantly, mention you.

Many times in structured networking events you are expected to mention the types of contacts or companies that you are seeking for an introduction. If I know that contact, but not your value, then how can I introduce you?

If I tell one of my contacts that they need to talk to you one of their first questions will be either, “Why?” or “What do they do?” If I cannot answer that question I will feel stupid. It is as though I am telling my contact that I am using them and it is a one way introduction – for you to get value from them but not for them to get value from you.

Telling them a title will not answer their questions. If they ask me what you do and I say you are an IT Manager they will ask more follow up questions to determine if they want to have that conversation. Your value will determine if they will share one of their most valuable resources: their time.

Sell me on you so I can sell you to others.

–Lisa

Back to top
%d bloggers like this: