2 Questions That Should Define Your LinkedIn Profile

two

I get asked a lot about how to write a LinkedIn profile.

  • What should I say?
  • How long should it be?
  • What if I don’t want anyone to know I am looking for a job?
  • I’m not looking so how should it sound?
  • What should I include?
  • Should it sound like my resume?
  • How much stuff should I put in the profile?

These are all good questions; however, there are two questions that should be asked before any others:

 Who do you want to read your profile?

What do you want them to know about you?

Although these are the foundation of your summary; most people cannot answer it.

They caught a case of analysis paralysis.  There is an overwhelming amount of information available on how to write your LinkedIn profile we have forgotten the why.

The why is the who and what – who are you targeting and what do you want them to know. The answers to those two questions help you answer all others.

Let’s say, for example, that you want someone to know that you are a sales rock star.

Who do you want to know this – is it potential clients?  Or perhaps, although not actively looking for a job, you would not mind high level decision makers to take notice.

You have a good place to start – rock star. What else?  Dig here.  Ask yourself ‘what else” about five more times.  This will help you create a stronger, more personal representation of who you are – not just what you do.

So, what else?

  • You are competitive and like to win (still compete running marathons)
  • You like challenges (seeking out new markets and making a name for your company)
  • You like helping other people (help coach the new guys when they come on board and sit down with your clients to come up with solutions instead of selling them a product)
  • You can’t get enough information (always reading new content, attending training or coaching to improve your skills, going back to school, taking classes on woodworking because it has always interested you)
  • You coach little league and volunteer at the humane society

The things you want people to know about you go beyond your professional skills  – they incorporate your personal strengths.  Who you are as a person and how that translates to making you a rock star.  LinkedIn is a step beyond the resume, a peek behind the curtain so to speak, for people to see you, not just your career.

Now that you have some what’s to tell, let’s turn back to your audience.  I want you to think like them.  Why is it important for them to know these things about you?  Why would they care?  In our example, being competitive, striving to continually improve yourself, giving to others as a solution provider or mentor are all strong qualities of top performers and leaders. Giving back to your community shows you have a good balance in life and further rings true the giving back to others and helping.

You also want to put the proof in the pudding – give some accomplishments to complete the value statements.  If you provide solutions to your clients, that equates to money.  Making money for a company and helping your clients make money is good.  This is something they would want to know.

Once you know who you are speaking to (who you want to read your profile) and what you want them to know about you, it will become much easier to have that conversation.  Your summary is a conversation – a one-on-one conversation with the person reading your profile.

Click here for a quick synopsis and basic formula for writing a LinkedIn profile that supports where you are while showcasing yourself.  Although the article speaks to writing a profile looking for a job while employed, this formula is a good foundation to begin any profile.

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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 how we can help you.

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How Do You Explain You?

how to you explain you

One of my favorite quotes and guiding principles comes courtesy of the great Albert Einstein:

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

This is something I learned from my dad.  Heaven help that man, he was ‘blessed’ with a very curious daughter who liked to ask a lot of questions – most of them “why?”

He had an amazing teaching capacity being able to translate the complicated into something a young mind could grasp, understand and replicate.  This is how I learned to use power tools before jr high, the delicacy of baiting a hook and driving a stick shift – in about 20 minutes.

He knew the key for me: explain the why while describing the how.

Knowing your audience, understanding their language and explaining something simply was how he helped me move mountains.

When you are staring at the mountain of career change, it is important to remember these three key elements, which bears repeating.

Know your audience

Understand their language

Explain simply

The first two are the easier of the three to accomplish.  If changing industries – do your research; if you are advancing in your current field – rely upon your expertise in the field.  You will be able to identify the decision makers, what their challenges are and make the correlation to your strengths and accomplishments demonstrating you and the value you offer as a solution.

Explaining simply is hard.

We have a tendency to use too many words.  As an Executive Resume Writer – I know of what I speak.  I do it, too. Ask any of my clients and they will tell you that when I send them their working draft I give the caveat – this is too long and too wordy.

I do it intentionally.  I want them to get the full effect, to see all the words to comprehend the concept.  The next step is the fun part – we rip it apart. We tear through all those words and simplify.  We cut to the core, cut to the chase, cut the crap.

I could do this on the first draft, but I like them to see it this way for a couple of reasons: we like words, we feel like we get a better understanding of words.  Seeing too many words also makes you realize that there are too many words.  This strengthens the process.  If we started with the cut to the core they might feel we missed something.

The other reason is that my process is a collaborative process.  My clients have skin in the game; the more they are engaged and are a part of the process, the more they engage and own their tools.  This leads to them loving them more and utilizing them more effectively.

When people ask you what you do – are you explaining it simply enough?  After thirty seconds, you lost them – it is not simple enough.  Do they ask questions, are the engaged and want to know more?  If not, it is not simple enough.

One way to help simplify how you describe you is to think about how would you explain it to a child?  Think teenager or preteen.  Old enough to grasp things but with a short attention span.  We all have short attention spans when it comes to asking others what they do, kids are just not as good as faking it as adults.

If you can explain it to this age group and they get it – you are spot on. Not only will they understand, they will be able to repeat the information, i.e. sell you.

Years ago in between football practices my son brought a buddy home to raid the fridge and hang out.  I overheard the conversation and I knew I was spot on in how I communicated to him.

His friend asked what I did and my son told him I help people get jobs.  At this point I wanted to jump in and correct him because that made me sound like I do recruiting or placement (which I do not).  But something held me back and I listened out of eyesight.

This is when the magic unfolded.

His friend asked how.  Tada – my son phrased it in a way for his audience to ask a question.

He explained that I work with them in re-writing their resumes, help with interviewing and all the stuff that helps them get a job.  Alrighty then.

The next day his friend’s dad called and hired me.  Bingo – my son explained it in a way his audience could understand and sell me to others.

Using big words, industry jargon or a whole host of fluff does not impress or improve your message – it dilutes it.

Explain it simply and people will connect.  This is how you start moving that mountain.

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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 how we can help you.

In order to be kept up to date on all my articles Click the “Yes Please!” button ★

 

 

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.

 

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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. ★

How Not To Get Scrooged At Work – 9 Ways To Get Your Voice Heard

Scrooged

Oh meetings, how we can sometimes loathe thee. Especially if we feel that we cannot or will not be afforded the opportunity to contribute.

It is not uncommon to have meetings in which certain participants steamroll the entire gathering refusing to release the floor or budge on their ideas. These are the Grinchs and Scrooges.

Some participants like to talk just to hear themselves talk and feel empowered by taking over a meeting. Other steamrollers are actually insecure about their own ideas, value or contributions. They use the reverse effect – ram it down everyone’s throat in such a forceful way that just by sheer volume and content it tricks the participants during that time to believe there is confidence and validity to their ideas.

On the other side of the table are introverts, polite ones and the nervous. Those participants may not be comfortable with expressing their ideas in a public forum, too polite to interrupt the Grinchs or Scrooges or afraid of being shot down for a “bad” or “ridiculous” idea. Those are the Hermey the Elf, Rudolphs or Bob Cratchits.

Just like little Hermey got to be a dentist, you too can have your voice heard at work; here are nine strategies to help build your confidence and speak up:

1. Speak Early

Agendas and tones for a meeting are set early. It is important for you to have your voice heard and be noticed early in the group. Often, in being nice or apprehensive, Hermeys, Rudolphs or Bob Cratchits wait to get a feel or hope for an opening to speak up; by that time it is too late and they run the risk of being steamrolled or too afraid to speak up.

2. Encourage and Build

An easy way to get your voice heard is to compliment or state agreement. A simple, “Great idea Scrooge” can get you heard and noticed in a non-threatening manner. Only agree if you truly agree.

A way to insert your point is to take the positive approach incorporating agreement to a degree. This is encouraging and building.

“Great idea, Grinch, and what if we built on that to add stars on top of all the trees?”

3. Body Language

Messages are perceived and “heard” more through the use of body language rather than verbal communication. Before you speak, set the tone. Straighten up, lean forward, place your hands down on the table in front of you, roll your shoulders back, tilt your head up slightly – in other words, prepare to speak and be seen.

There are three ways to get your voice heard, let Grinch or Scrooge know you were listening, slow down the steamroller, fine tune points and set you up to make further contribution. These can all be done in a non-confrontational manner that conveys that you are not challenging the other parties by using “I” statements.

4. Ask Questions

Instead of feeling like you are jumping in and directly opposing an idea, which may be perceived and reacted to as an attack; ask questions. Asking for clarification is also helpful to the group.

“Excuse me, Grinch, I want to make sure I understood what you just said. Was it your point that we should take down all Christmas lights…”

5. Find Cohesion

Sometimes a meeting can get a little frenzied with competing points, escalating voices and tempers. One way to redirect and rebalance is to find the cohesion between the conflicting parties.

“If I understand Grinch correctly, you are saying we should work overtime on the holiday and Scrooge is saying there should be no early shut down on the holiday – so at the core you are both suggesting that the toy factory stay open that day. Am I correct?”

6. Clarify Differences

Another frenzied point is when Grinchs and Scrooges want to argue for the sake of argument, but no one really knows what they are arguing about because they have lost sight of the point due to the bad behavior.

“Just to make sure I understand the point of disagreement – Grinch you are saying expand hours and Scrooge you are saying reduce wages, is that correct?”

Of course there is another way that forces you to have your voice heard –

7. Ask For a Project

Sometimes you just have to take the bull by the horns and put yourself in a position that is not comfortable. Realize that the Grinches and Scrooges may try to interrupt and steamroll, remain calm. If they blow off some steam, simply redirect:

“Thank you for that insight Scrooge, at the conclusion of my presentation that would be a good point to address”

“Good point Grinch, I think that will be addressed in just a moment when I continue with my presentation”

Then continue from where you were.  Remember, sometimes they just like to hear their own voice just for the sake of it.

8. Practice

Practicing in front of mirror at home may feel silly, however, habits are learned. Pretend as though you are in the meeting surrounded by only Grinches and Scrooges. Ask a question, clarify a difference or find cohesion and watch your body language in the mirror. Do you look confident? Does your voice sound confident? Practice until you speak with a solid tone, manner and presence making it much easier when the time comes.

9. Why You Are There

The most important element to being heard is to remember that you are there to contribute because you add value. They may be louder, more boisterous and pushier than you but that does not mean they have more to contribute or have better ideas. They are just louder, more boisterous and pushy – period.

Do You Want To Be Right Or Do You Want The Help?

not listening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My father’s patience with me was a constant.  I believe he was so patient because he helped create the reason patience was needed.  The first piece of advice or words of wisdom that I remember my dad giving me was, “you can do anything a boy can do, except pee on a tree.”

That was my dad.

He instilled a sense of independence, curiosity, pride and exploration in me.  Before I took shop in high school, I was using his power tools in the basement or under the deck to build things. I loved to explore and try things and he let me, while keeping an eye on me.

There were times I wanted to do something and I was convinced I was right or knew the right way to do it. I refused his help and said I could do it myself.  He patiently watched me fail and then gently asked if I wanted to know the right way.

The pride he taught me was to have pride in what I did and not let it stand in the way of asking for help.  I learned to ask why or why not instead of challenging the right way when I thought I was right.

Asking for help is not an easy thing to do, yet it is worthless if you are not going to listen to the answer and counterproductive if you are going to argue that you are right.

In all the years I have been coaching and writing resumes, I can count on one hand the number of clients who preferred to be right rather than listen to the professional advice they had paid for.

That is the beauty of owning your own company; you can choose not to work with certain clients.  There are clients I have referred to others because it became obvious, very quickly, that they wanted to be right.  They would pay well to argue with me just to be right in their own mind.  I think that is a waste of time and money.

It becomes a detriment in the workplace.

I have a very good friend who is a director in the financial industry.  She is extraordinarily brilliant in the ways of compliance. Her opinion is highly valued and sought after.  But there are times…

There was a project that she was called on due to her expertise and asked to consult.  The gentleman that requested her help fought her at every turn.  She could back up every recommendation with rules, regulations, examples and case studies yet he refused to listen.  He had to be right.

It became obvious, very quickly, on his team that he was not willing to listen to any input that could propel the project.  His primary objective was instead to be right, no matter the cost to the company, project or his team.  His respect level from his peers, team members and leadership plummeted.

I have another good friend that owns a marketing company.  She is amazingly talented in the ways of marketing.  Her clients reap measurable and immeasurable benefits from the work she does for them.  But there are times….

She will get a client who comes to her and tells her they need a complete revamp of their company.  She and her team go to work diving in to get all the information to create exactly what the client needs based on what they want.  Then in presenting the information, the client will tell her that they don’t think they should do it that way, they think this other way is the best way.

In each case I just want to ask two questions:

If you know so much, why did you ask for help in the first place? 

What is the cost of being right?

In paying someone for assistance, you are wasting your time and money; in the workplace, you are destroying your reputation.

The two women mentioned below are very close friends and we have one thing in common – we are a bit forthright.  In other words, we do ask the above two questions to those that asked for help.  You might think that we get a nasty rebuttal; but instead we normally get surprise.

Those that are insistent on being right normally do not realize their behavior.  They may be nervous about the situation or so engrossed in doing a good job that they fail to realize they have become their own worst enemy.

When pointed out in a gentle but firm way the priorities realign and the process continues smoothly.  But there are times….

Sometimes people are just buttheads.  Let’s face it, they just are and you cannot change that.  However, it is best to know what you are dealing with – someone who is so badly wants things done right that they go a little self-centered nuts or a true self-centered jerk.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a management style.  Ask your team for help then ignore them to prove you are the leader.  If this behavior continues the team no longer gives it their A game and the manager is left as an island alone, wondering what happened.

If your team is not engaging as much as you would like, perhaps you have been behaving in a not so team-like way.   It takes a bit of clean up after being called out for wanting to be right rather than getting help, yet it can be done.

The best way to avoid this is twofold:

Listen

Ask why or why not rather than standing firm that you are right. 

You will get the expertise or assistance that you need and perhaps learn a thing or two.  You will also show your team that their input matters and you put the project before the individual.

That is called a win-win.

 

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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.

The 4 Key Combination to Effective Communication

communicatingHave you ever made a statement or a request and the result you get is completely different than what you expected?

How did that happen? How did the other person or persons misunderstand?

You were absolutely clear, crystal clear; there was no room for doubt.

Well, not exactly.

No matter how clear you thought you were, no matter how much sense it made in your own mind, you were not clear to your audience. There was a breakdown in communication.

There is a four key combination to effective communication: know your audience, know what is important to them, know how they listen and know your style.

1. Know Your Audience

If you are a parent you will or have no doubt experienced this phenomenon. When I would tell my son to clean his room I mistakenly thought that was clear. It was obvious from the result that it was not.

My best friend has two teenagers who are very close. Her son is very protective and takes a fatherly role with his sister. He mentioned not too long ago that he was frustrated because she did not open up to him as much as she used to and he felt did not listen when he gave her advice.

I had a team that was made up of a wonderful group of people all with different backgrounds, goals and stages in life. Some wanted to move up the corporate ladder, some worked to fill time, some were single parents dependent upon a paycheck, some were getting an education in a different field and some were new to the industry.

2. Know What is Important

For my son the most important item to cleaning his room is getting it done quickly.

For my best friend’s son it was being heard and appreciated for being the big brother and taking care of his sister.

For my team there were multiple factors including praise, growth, recognition, advancement or bonus.

There are no right or wrong motivations so there should be no judgement on why you need to incorporate what is important to them in your message.

If you incorporate their need into your message you are more likely to get buy in and clarity.

Although it is perfectly acceptable to give the reason “because I said so” to your children, it is not in the working world.

3. Know How They Listen

My son listens with an emphasis on omission. If I do not say it than it is not assumed or done. I learned that I had to spell out what I wanted and not assume one step logically lead to another. I made checklists. He would get frustrated and think I was oversimplifying the process; however, the result was what I wanted and the process was made much easier for him.

For my best friend’s daughter, it was triggers. Hearing her brother say things like, “You need to” or anything that took on a commanding position put up a wall. I suggested to her brother that he talk with her as her brother, from a guy’s perspective. The first time he applied this tactic she responded in a positive way saying she had not thought about the situation from that perspective and she followed his advice.

For my team the listening style varied. Some were black and white, straight to the point kind of listeners. Others were paint the picture with color and flowing lines. If I tried to use all the colors of the rainbow with the straight line listeners, I would lose them – quickly.

If I tried the black and white method with the whole picture listeners, I would confuse them and leave them without all the necessary information to complete the task. I then incorporated their needs into the communication style. In asking various team members for a report the request would vary depending upon the team member:

“We need this report to give to the management team to help them project next month’s numbers.”
“We need to get this report to management and I want you to put it together because I think it would be a great opportunity for you to learn this system, which is used a lot in the position you want.”
“We need to put together this report and I want you to lead it so management sees you as the go to person.”
“We need to get this report together and you know this system better than anyone else, I truly appreciate your skill on this.”

4. Know Your Style

I am an over-analyzer. When I look at a challenge I see it from a multitude of angles, possibilities, challenges and options. I could have several scenarios running through my head at one time. My brain takes multi-tasking to another level. If I were to verbalize my thoughts it would make other people’s heads explode.

My natural inclination is to give all the details – paint the picture with all the colors of the rainbow and every possible twist and turn. It was only from an awareness of my natural communication style that I could learn how to communicate in the straight line method.

Self-awareness gives opportunity for growth and an improved skill set. I am now able to fluctuate between the two for the most effective communication style for my audience. Yet there was one more factor that I need to add: learn to ask and take responsibility.

Learn to Ask and Take Responsibility

Sometimes just a little tweak can make a huge improvement on communication, respect, trust and results. Instead of barking orders, you engage and gain buy in. This builds respect, which in turn leads to shared accountability for the task and a greater effort for the desired result.

It is not always easy to determine a listening style and adapt your own communication style to your audience. The fastest and easiest way to do this is to ask your audience.

When I first work with a team or individuals I often will ask questions like, “does that make sense?” “what do you think?” “how do you see this?” Ask questions that will give you clues to what is important to them, if they like colors or black and white and how they listen.

I also put the onus on me. I will tell the group or individual that I know that sometimes my communication is not clear, what I think in my head is not the same that comes out of my mouth so I want to make sure they can understand me and we are on the same page. I reiterate that it is important to me that I communicate effectively without overkill.

This way I have set the stage that what they think is important, I am not trying to bully or demand rather I am looking for engagement and commitment and I am willing to change my methods for what works best for them.

I also take responsibility to get more information from them to make sure I do not drop the ball in receiving information, not just giving it. If something is said that could possibly be taken in more than one way, I ask. I preface with “I am not challenging you or doubting you, I just want to make sure I fully understand…”

Letting a boss know that I want to do a good job so I want to make sure that I am clear on expectations goes a long way and is much better than assuming and screwing it up. I have assumed, I have screwed up – it is not pretty nor is it fun.

This is in direct conflict with good ol’ Abe in better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. I would rather look like an idiot for a moment and end up being on the same page.

Sometimes leadership feels they have to know all the answers and get it right every time. Take away that title and you are still human. People have different motivations, communication styles, expectations, fears, ambitions, goals and motives. How can you possibly know all this information without asking?

Do not be afraid to ask, to go out on a limb and tell your team that you do not always know the best way to communicate and for that you need their help. I have yet had an occasion when clarifying with a team or staff member hinders my credibility or authority. It has actually proven the opposite, it has been respected because it proves I care enough about the project, its effects and the people involved to get it right, even by admitting there are things I do not know.

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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 colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Listen for the Pebbles That Can Propel Your Career

Luke on guardSome of my greatest lessons, examples and reminders come from my dogs. I have three dogs; the one pictured is Luke, the baby of the family. He is a big six year old puppy full of enthusiasm, joy, unconditional love and unbridled energy.

And the attention span of a gnat.

I discovered after Luke was a part of my family that he had special talents – being able to open doors (especially the pantry and empty the contents), figuring out child locks, putting holes in walls, leaping six foot privacy fences and major anxiety.

Luke and I have been playing new games for over a week. It is actually training, but do not tell him that or he will stop playing. In less than a week he now drops his toy for me to throw instead of drooling all over me and nipping at me while trying to get me to take it out of his mouth. Today, he dropped a toy over nine times in a row before he got bored and napped. Major victory!

We have also been working on playing nice while walking on a leash. Here is the thing – this dog could drag me all over creation without batting an eye. He weighs almost as much as I do, extremely strong and big – and don’t forget that unbridled energy. So walking nice on a leash is a big thing.

This weekend he was praised by a neighbor for calmly walking past her two yip-yip hyper dogs as they tried to tear through the fence to play with him. I was a proud mommy. Training was going well. I still have to remind him when he sees people on the other side of the street or in their yard that they are not out there to meet him.

Yes, all was going well, until that guy.

We had completed over a mile and a half at a good pace so he was happy and a bit tired and listening well when a man, his dog and his small daughter appeared at the end of the street. As they got closer, I shortened Luke’s lead and told him (in a voice loud enough for the guy to hear) “good boy, no, we are not going to play, stay with mommy”

Apparently the guy was deaf.

He kept making a bee-line right toward us. So when he was close enough, I started to take Luke off the path and told him, “He’s training, so we can’t say hi to your pup.”

Apparently the guy is really deaf.

He continued right up to Luke with his dog and said, “It’s ok, they will be fine.”

I’m sorry, what?? As I tried to pull Luke back and continue, the guy moved forward so his dog could continue to sniff Luke and then said, “See, they are doing good.”

Are you kidding me? What?? That is when I was finally able to break free of that guy and his dog. The whole time his young daughter looked on.

I am normally a very nice person, a friendly person and a happy person. However, disrespect my dogs or my kids and it becomes a different story. For the sake of the little girl, I kept my calm and walked away, praising Luke for being a good boy and muttering not nice words about the man in my head.

I fumed about this for a bit. I specifically told this guy to not bring his dog up to mine. I was nice, I was firm and I could not be more clear. Okay, maybe I could, but that might have involved words that my mother would not approve of, so yes, I was clear.

Yet he refused to listen.

It hit me later that there are a lot of people that do not listen throughout their career. Their bosses, customers or coworkers are nice, firm and clear but they just do not listen. There are so many opportunities lost because we do not listen.

If it is suggested by your boss that someone should learn a certain skill, take on an additional responsibility or serve in a certain capacity – how many times does this fall on deaf ears?

That is opportunity! More than one opportunity – a way to learn something new, let your boss know you are listening and willing to put forth effort needed and a chance to step up.

It is a pebble. The road to greatness, adventure, advancement, exploration and growth are all built upon pebbles.

If your coworkers or boss compliments an aspect your work or the job you did– those are pebbles. You have been recognized for a skill set or ability, now how can you build on it and do even more? Are you listening?

If a customer makes a suggestion or even a compliant – are you listening? It is a pebble. An opportunity to solve a problem or go beyond to create an even more memorable experience.

Often people feel stuck in their jobs or careers; yet what they do not realize is there are amazing opportunities all around just waiting to be taken advantage of propelling them to where they want to be.

Stop, listen and then take action.

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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 colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

5 Blunders That Could Ruin Your Interview

Head SlapOne of the biggest frustrations of interviewing, right after not getting the job, is not being told why you did not get the job.

It is a competitive market with a lot of quality candidates out there. However, what could have cost you the job are some simple mistakes that you yourself made.

From the moment you release your resume you are on stage. Everything you do from here on out with regards to the job is being watched and judged. Slack in one area and the curtain closes.

They Like Me

We like to be liked; I believe it is human nature. During an interview we really want the interviewer to like us. The problem in this is when being liked and or being likable trump being relevant. When you spend more time trying to be their buddy rather than demonstrate your value in the position, your experience, skill sets, expertise and being the solution to their problem.

Yes, you want to build a rapport and demonstrate that you are the right fit both in terms of qualifications for the position as well as within their culture.

Always Pick Multiple Choice Answer C

I remember hearing that when in doubt on a multiple choice question, you should always choose answer C if you do not know the answer. I am not sure who came up with this advice and I never saw the wisdom in it.

You might be asked a question and you immediately see more than one way to answer it. It is a mistake to assume you know the intention of the interviewer. Ask. Simply ask the interviewer if they are looking at the situation from perspective A or perspective B. The interviewer might not be aware that there is more than one possible viewpoint. This demonstrates thoughtfulness in your answer and an expanded view on the topic.

Not Even In the Same Ballpark

It is great to prepare for an interview and have examples to answer the “tell me about a time…” question. The problem comes when we have memorized those stories and relay them when they are not relevant to the actual question being asked.

Relevancy comes from addressing issues related to the position, industry, company and situation. You must demonstrate that you get their need and you can solve their problem. Do not leave them to try to connect the dots – show them so they can walk out of that room saying, “That’s our person!”

Unlike the financial industry, in the career industry past success is an indicator of future success.

It Is Assumed

Several recruiters, hiring managers and human resource personnel have told me that an interview could have gone well, but they never followed up because at the end of the interview the candidate never expressed that they were still interested or wanted the job.

Do Not Assume. Just because you showed up and answered the questions does not automatically equate to you still wanting the job. Your silence could leave the interviewer wondering if you did not like what you heard but you are being too polite to tell them you are no longer interested.

Speak up. At the end of the interview reiterate that you believe this is a good fit and are very excited to join their team.

Dead Air

You showed up early, were completely prepared, aced the interview and closed strongly with an “I really want this job” – yep, you have got it in the bag.

Nope, not so fast – your work is not done.

You are not done with the “I want the job”, that is your face to face closing but not the end.

Follow up with a professionally worded ‘thank you for your time’ correspondence. Be sure to highlight the strengths and positives from the interview. Thank them for their time and re-iterate your interest and excitement for the position.

This will reinforce all the positives that you have and give you an additional edge. Surprisingly many hiring managers will keep those follow up correspondence to put in your personnel file because it demonstrated a positive quality about you.

You should arrive early, be prepared, look the part – all the traditional wisdom for interviewing; however, you also need to pay attention to the details along the way. As the sayings go – the devil is in the details and it only takes one pebble to start an avalanche.

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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 colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

4 Things Not to Say to Your Dog or an Interviewer

luke suprisedOne of my top cringe-worthy sayings is “I’m a people person.” When I would interview someone and they would tell me this I would respond with, “That’s nice, I’m a dog person.”

Dogs are incredibly intelligent creatures. Although there are times that I challenge my own conclusion on this when they do weird things like eat their own waste or vomit, but overall, they are intelligent. They understand what you say not only in words but in body language and actions.

I cannot say, “I’m going to walk to the store” because the mention of the word ‘walk’ starts a frenzy in my house. Of course, when something has been destroyed in my house and I say the phrase, “Who did this?” I get a trio of blank stares and head turns with perked ears with the implied response of, “We don’t understand what you are saying, we don’t speak human.”

There are phrases or words I cannot use if I want to maintain an environment of peace and calm; there are also words or phrases that I have learned I just cannot say to my dogs. These just happen to correlate with phrases that you should not say to an interviewer.

You Understand

No, really, they do not. Dogs and people are going to understand what you tell them, not what you intended to tell them. Telling a dog, “I cannot play with you right now because I am too busy, you understand” does not equate to them getting the fact that you have a deadline.

What they know is you are ignoring them. Period. You might as well tell them that you don’t love them anymore. Dogs do not connect dots. Cats chase glowing red dots, dogs are oblivious to dots.

When talking to a hiring manager and they ask you about a situation, ending your response with “you understand” is the same as telling them “I really do not have a good answer to your question so I am leaving it up to you to fill in the blanks for me.”

If you are asked a question that gives you the opportunity to highlight a skill set or accomplishment for goodness sake take full advantage of it. They will not know how wonderful you are and what a great fit you are for the job if you do not tell them. Do not assume they are connecting the dots. You know what they say about assuming….

I Didn’t Mean To Put That There

My pack has always included big dogs. I had a Great Pyrenees, Sheppard/Husky mix and currently a Lab – pictured above. The thing about big dogs is there is nothing they cannot reach. My kitchen counter tops are clean and bare by necessity, not design. I can put something in the very back of the counter or lock it in the oven and as soon as I leave the room it is eaten. My Lab can unlock things. He laughs at child locks.

At this point it is of no consequence to the dog in telling them that I didn’t mean to put the food item there and that it wasn’t for them. They don’t care. If I put it there and it is within reach then it is fair game. That means if they can reach it, they will eat it. Plain and simple.

For an interviewer this equates to putting something on your resume that you do not want to discuss or highlight. Everything on your resume is fair game. If you list it and I am a hiring manager than I have full opportunity to explore it.

Often I have found people will include items on their resume that are actually weak areas or tasks that they do not want to do. When reviewing these items in resume reviews I am told, “I didn’t mean to put that there, I really did not have a lot of exposure to it but I thought it would look good on my resume.”

No, it does not, especially if you cannot speak to it with authority and confidence. I am not a technical genius to say the least. If I were putting a resume together for myself I would not mention proficiency in certain applications because the truth be told, I might have worked in them, but it was a slow and painful process.

Trying to make yourself look better by listing something you are not skilled at and then going a step further by trying to proclaim you are proficient in it is one sure fire way of discrediting everything that you have said to that point and everything after.

If you cannot speak to it as a value add then leave it off

Biscuits are Not a Priority

My dogs live for treats, and tummy rubs, but mostly food related items. Biscuits are a priority for them. I call all treats ‘biscuits’ because this is their favorite word. My dogs are spoiled, they get biscuits for things like going outside and pooping. What an awesome life they live, they get rewarded for doing what they have to do by nature. I would have a revolt on my hands if I proclaimed that biscuits were no longer a priority in my house.

You need to know the hiring manager’s biscuits. Factors include industry, clients, target markets, skill sets; what are their goals, mission statement, short and long term plans. If customer service is their biggest biscuit for the position for which you are interviewing then you darn well better come prepared with a box of results, value and accomplishments related to customer service.

If, on the other hand, you tell them that customer service is not high on your priority list or worse, tell them that you do not like it, you have just lost the job. One, you were not prepared for the interview; and two, you are not the right fit.

I once interviewed a young lady for an investment associate position, she would be responsible for tracking orders in the market, spreadsheets for clients and verifying costs basis. She was doing fine until she told me that she wasn’t really a math person. Math was a pretty big biscuit for that position.

I Don’t Have Time

I don’t know about your dogs but when mine want to go play and I am trying to finish something up and tell them that I don’t have time right now I get the look. One will give me the pathetic look, one will give me the disdained look and the other gives me a look of sheer confusion. This is important to them, how do I not have the time? Do I not love them anymore? Next thing you know I will tell them that I don’t have any biscuits.

Telling a hiring manager that you do not have the time to learn a new system, technology or skill set is telling them that their job and company are not a priority for you; now or in the future. You do not see it worthy to give them extra time to be a part of the team.

If you are asked about the company for which you are interviewing and you tell them you did not have time to research it, you are telling them you do not care. You are not engaged or interested in the position. It could very easily translate that you are only looking for a paycheck.

My dogs have taught me about unconditional love. No matter how bad my day, if I am out of the good biscuits and they have to suffer with the yucky ones, or have less time to play, they still love me. This is just one wonderful thing about dogs.

Jobs, on the other hand, not so much. Start slacking on the biscuits, giving less time or effort and they do not show unconditional love; they show you the door. You have to put in as much as, or more, than you expect to get back to reach that point of satisfaction, joy and success.

If you are going after a job you have to want it; and wanting it means you have to know the ins and outs and be excited to do that and more. This is best demonstrated by doing your homework, being prepared, communicating your value and be engaging in the process.

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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 colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

4 Steps To Create Engagement In Any Conversation

a conversationCommunication is important in business, communication is vital. It is not enough to introduce yourself while networking, tell your clients what you do and take orders from your boss. You have to exchange information and build alliances.

It is called engagement and there are four steps to creating engagement in any conversation:

1. Ask a Question

Soliciting information from another person opens the door for them to share information and insight with you. In turn, based upon their response, you can then help guide the conversation.

2. Keep Quiet and Pay Attention

Once you ask a question, give the recipient all your attention, do not talk over them and do not be distracted by anything else in the room. Give them your undivided attention in order that you can hear what they say and relay their importance to you.

3. Listen

This goes beyond hearing their words or preparing a response before they are finished giving their response. Listen, really listen to what they say, what they do not and their body language. The total message is comprised of all three.

4. Follow Up

If you were paying attention and listening to what they said, you will be able to formulate either a follow up question for further clarification, deeper understanding or to be able to provide comprehension of what they said. It is validation to the other person that you were listening, what they said was important and you are engaged with them.

Using these four steps, you can build rapport with anyone at any time in an easy manner allowing them to provide all the information and clues to guide the conversation and find a common ground, allegiance, prospective opportunities and collaboration.

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