Posts tagged ‘professional’

February 12, 2011

What to Wear, What to Wear

Without advancing a stereotype, I’m the first to admit that despite having a fairly comprehensive wardrobe (ranging from sloppy t-shirts with kitschy sayings to blouses nearly crisp and starched enough they almost cause physical injury), there are days when I stand in my closet and haven’t the faintest idea what to wear. Now in my mid-twenties, I find myself naturally straying further away from the casual wear, leaning more toward more basic colors and silhouettes. This has also carried over into my now-growing professional wardrobe, which I’m being more cognizant of now that I’m out of school. Just today I made my way to the store, picking up some more career pieces.

In “Dress for the Job You Want”, Hewlett mocks one Swiss company’s (UBS), attempt to address work dress code, in a 43-page how-to of sorts, covering protocol on things like high heel height to hair coloring and makeup application expectations. Though excessive, undoubtedly, research conducted by other outlets reveals a true need in addressing corporate fashion and dress code.

Women, in particular, believed that dressing the part was a vital factor in attaining success: 53% of them felt aspiring female execs needed to toe a very conservative line, avoiding flashy make-up, plunging necklines, too-short or too-tight skirts, and long fingernails — exactly the sort of sartorial no-nos UBS spelled out. Indeed, half the women surveyed and 37% of the men considered appearance and EP to be intrinsically linked; they understood that if you don’t look the part of a leader, you’re not likely to be given the role. Far from imagining that appearance is a personal matter, they perceived that looking well-turned-out engenders self confidence, a trait they considered the bedrock of authentic leaders. (“Dress for the Job You Want“, Sylvia Ann Hewlett)

Looking professional and executive is struggle enough, but what about one’s sense of identity and personal style? As the article suggests:

The research also revealed, however, that it is one thing to grasp the importance of looking professional, and quite another to interpret the ever-shifting notions that define a professional appearance. Women, certainly, struggle more than men to achieve the look of leadership, a factor that contributes to their overall stall in middle- and upper-middle management. On the one hand, they’re told to conform; on the other, they’re advised to stand out. They’re told to downplay their sexuality, but warned against coming off as too mannish and threatening. They know they will be judged on their appearance, perhaps unreasonably so. (“Dress for the Job You Want“, Sylvia Ann Hewlett)

What’s the message here? It depends on who you ask and what you’re willing to put into practice. Unless and until organizations communicate the dress code expectations required of their employees, it’s inevitable that a fashion faux pas  or two may occur. UBS may have been a little heavy handed in their expectations, but ultimately, employees should know what is appropriate and tolerated and what simply isn’t. Personal style should only be incorporated into the workplace so long as it aligns with the organization’s image. That said, when in doubt, ask! If you’re unsure what may or may not be acceptable, asking for a refresher on the dress code isn’t out of the question, nor is doing a little research in the event you’re hesitant to ask. When in doubt, go the conservative route and think basics. And if you’re a girl, like me, who needs a pop of color in her life, a tasteful, colorful accessory will probably keep everyone satisfied.

For more resources on corporate fashion, check out the 20 Best Fashion Blogs for Professional Women.

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January 15, 2011

Speed Networking: What It Is and How to Do It

Networking can be challenging enough— who to connect with, what to say, what not to say, when to follow up. The key to successful speed networking is cutting through the traditional small talk, and quickly determining how both parties can assist or benefit one another.

Below are six tips for being an effective speed networker:

Use your time wisely.
Your conversations with each new connection are kept short and sweet so you can meet a lot of different people. On Network Roulette, you only have THREE minutes to make your connection. Don’t spend your time with long introductions or niceties such as “Hello, how are you?”, “Nice to meet you,” etc. Get straight to business by asking “How can I help you?”

Know what you need and what you have to offer. Don’t be vague.
Go into each speed networking event that you attend with what you want to get out of it in mind. On Network Roulette, we provide you with ‘Looking/Providing’ fields that you should always fill out before the event. Fill these fields out every time. They’ll force you to stay focused and make sure that you and your random match know instantly if there is potential to help each other.

Don’t be afraid to pass.
Let’s be realistic. You’re not always going to be matched with the perfect person. If you are matched up with someone who does not seem like a good connection, don’t be afraid to move on. Your time is valuable, and so is theirs. Thank them for their time and move on to the next match.

Be a connector.
You may not be able to help everyone but you probably know someone else who can. If you think that a person you have been matched with would be valuable so someone else in your network, introduce them. People with love you for introducing quality people to them and being likable is an important trait for every networker to have.

Be authentic.
“Say what really interests you, not what you think should interest you,” says Sarah Peck, Brazen community leader.

Always follow up.
The biggest mistake that people make is not following up. It means you’ve wasted your time. Go into every speed networking event that you attend understanding that the quick conversations you are having are only the beginning. Building a strong, long-lasting relationship with another professional requires more than that.

If you’re speed networking on Network Roulette, follow up by becoming a Fan of the person you connected with. When they fan you back, exchange private messages. Or you can just exchange emails during your 3-minute chat.

Just don’t wait until there are 10 seconds left to do it!

So, my advice is to prepare to judge and be judged. Cutting out the  rapport-building may seem unnatural at first, but sometimes time just simply won’t allow. Be prepared to cut to the chase and communicate your message, while remaining an active listener.

December 14, 2010

Tory Johnson’s 50 Ways to Generate Social Media Content

Though graduate school has surely been challenging, one of its greatest rewards is allowing me to sleep in far later than I ever have in my life. I’m an early bird, functioning best early in the morning. Perhaps more impressive, I can probably count the number of mornings I’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed on one hand. And with graduation closing in, I’ll surely miss staying in bed until lunchtime. That said, this morning I was abruptly awakened by the snow plows, just in time for Good Morning America, a guilty pleasure television show I haven’t seen in months.

Tory Johnson, a Good Morning America contributor, author, life coach and founder and CEO of Women for Hire—a recruiting and educational resource for connecting professional women with leading employers in the country— spoke about the challenge women face in breaking through the cliche glass ceiling.

I’ve followed Tory Johnson for quite some time, most recently connecting with her through LinkedIn. Her practical advice covers the gamut, from networking and career advice, to how to strengthen your resume and cover letter, to how to negotiate with employers or start a business.

She also poses 50 tips for generate web content, seen below. I’ve underlined a few tips I found most intriguing and thought-provoking, all of which I plan on implementing in my own use of social media:

Comment. The easiest form of content is to comment on other people’s content. Answer their questions, ask them something, chime in with feedback, or simply let them know you appreciated their post.
Congratulate. Offer kudos and praise when people in your social media circles share their own successes. Think of it as a virtual high- five.
Recommend. Let your fans, followers, friends and connections know why you recommend a particular product or service. Include a link to it.
Review. Offer your candid opinion on a current event, book, product or movie that’s closely connected to your field.
Reveal. Get personal. When I speak about small business success, I’m very candid that my interest in entrepreneurship started when I was coldly and unexpectedly fire from a job I loved. The scar from that pink slip forced me to never want one person or one organization to have the ability to strip me of my financial security or self-esteem, so I ventured out on my own.
Report. Conferences and events offer rich material to share through social media. You can post quotes, tips, takeaways and photos from the speakers and sessions. Allow others to participate vicariously through you.
Promote. Promote something you’re working on—a book, a product, an article, an event, you name it—and let people know where to learn more. This is also true for your blog posts and stuff on your website. Promote it through social media to bring people directly to your site.
Share. When you read an article in the morning paper, find a link to the piece online and share it with your networks. The same is true for any great content or phenomenal resource you find online. Anytime I read a magazine, I dog-ear pages to share tidbits online.
Give. Give a special offer to your fans and followers. For example, this document you’re reading is something I offered to give away—no strings attached. You can create something similar for your target market or even give a special discount or bonus offer for a limited- time on a product or service.
Tips. This is especially relevant for experts—coaches, consultants, trainers, authors, speakers—to share their expertise regularly by posting a tip of the day or tip of the week. Choose tips that are actionable and avoid being generic. For example, if you’re talking to jobseekers, “Join and participate in a discussion group in your field on LinkedIn” is a better tip than “Use social networks for your job search.” It also works for product manufacturers. For example, if you make brownies, share cooking tips. Someone who sells an organizer can offer tips on, you guessed it, staying organized.
Quotes. Please tell me you bought a copy of the incredible tips book from the Women’s Conference! It’s filled with nearly 400 quick tips from some of the most successful people in America. (If not, you can easily find quotes online.) Post one tip per day—or even two per day— and you’ll see that your audience responds and re-tweets.
Re-post. Re-tweet or re-post tips, thoughts, articles or other material other people post online. Be sure to acknowledge where you saw it first.
Highlight. Highlight a blog that you follow and tell your audience exactly why you believe they’d like it too.
Educate. Teach a smart lesson in a tidbit and then be sure to follow up with additional details if and when someone asks for more.
Inspire. Let everyone know how you’ve overcome a challenge and share how they can do it too.
Ask. Pose a question that relates to your field and is likely to generate strong reaction. This can be very wide-ranging. For example, on my Facebook.com/Tory wall, I posted this: A woman just told me she’s changing her hair color to “look smarter.” Do you think hair color impacts our perception of intelligence? (As you can imagine, that got a lot of reaction.) On Twitter I ask viewers to submit questions to use on JOB CLUB, a program I host on ABC News Now, a 24-hour digital news channel.
Invite. Create an event—a MeetUp, TwitterChat, teleclass, etc—and invite everyone to join in on the conversation.
Exploit. Have a pet peeve? Exploit it. One of mine is this notion of “business conference as usual,” which leads to a feeling of let down once you get home and realize that you paid for something that wasn’t delivered, wasn’t made actionable or didn’t help your bottom line. This is a reminder to me when I promote my own events that I need to be even bolder with acknowledging this “conference let down” scenario and explaining why my programs are different.
Showcase. If you have a great client success, feature it. When someone I work with gets a new job or has a big win in her business, I showcase those successes online. It also serves as a testimonial for your work and your expertise.
Solicit. Ask for feedback on a trend in your line of work or feedback on an element of something you’re working on. Everyone loves to offer an opinion.
Brag. Did you receive some media coverage? Did you hit a social media milestone? Did you win an award? Did you sign a new client? Share your good fortune with your audience.
Gratitude. Thank new clients or partners (when appropriate) and others who are part of your success or who have served you well.
Prove. Include a brief “case study” showing where a client started, what you did, how you did it, and the results that were experienced. You can also do the same as an employee or jobseeker based on the works you do.
Guests. Use your social media platform to invite others to guest post on your blog or website, if applicable. Be clear on what you’re looking for so potential respondents can self-select.
Stalk. Bet this one caught your attention. Stalk strategically. By that I mean pick one rockstar in your industry each week and give a shout out to that person about why he or she should want to know who you are. Since it’s fashionable to respond to everyone on Twitter, you may just get a response.
Contribute. Join relevant groups on LinkedIn and contribute your expertise to the discussion boards. Make a habit of it so you’ll build a profile for yourself as the go-to person on this topic.
Morning. Consider posting a morning greeting each day that is relevant, fun, interesting or challenging. It may be connected to current events—Did you watch X show last night? Are you going to the polls to vote today? Do you know what happened this day in history?— instead of directly related to your work.
Save. Share great practical resources or tips that make life better by saving someone time or money.
Forecast. Let everyone know about changes in your industry and what you believe it means for your target market.
Laugh. A clean (non-offensive) joke is always a welcome form of comic relief.
Announce. Announce changes in your company, product introductions, or new developments in your work.
Complain. Share a customer service complaint and how it was handled impeccably. Explain how that problem will be avoided in the future. Being candid and authentic is a welcome trait.
Personalize. While most of your content will be professional, give some personal details to share another side of you. I got an enormous reaction when I shared my husband’s foot injury that left him in pain— and me exhausted from being ordered around! I talk about my kids. I stressed over turning 40. All of that allows my audience to know me better—and hopefully feel a stronger connection to me.
Theme. Use daily, weekly or monthly themes to inspire regular content. A car mechanic might implement a 30-day “Make Your Friends Green With Envy” campaign with tips on keeping their car in enviable condition. Or maybe it’s Motivational Mondays to kick off the week. Or Wellness Wednesday, which can encompass a range of content. Having a theme allows you to build out the content in advance to fit the days.
Seasons. Similarly, use changing seasons to generate content and discussion. For example, a dating coach could do a FALLing in love campaign in September, while a marriage therapist may begin by asking if you’ve FALLen out of marital bliss, followed by tips on how to reheat your marriage as the temperature drops.
Controversy. Rather than polarizing your connections with your own personal rant, consider simply posting a question about a controversial hot topic. I recently did this on the Oklahoma governor’s race between two female 50-something candidates – one married with six kids, the other single and no kids. The married mom made a point to say she was more qualified because of her marital and parenting status, so I asked my followers to chime in.
Contest. Ask everyone to submit something. A staffing firm asked fans to submit the most challenging interview question they ever faced. A purse company asked women to submit photos of the inside of their bag. Combine and share the content in a clever way.
Spy. When all else fails, spy on your competition. What are they writing, tweeting, and blogging about? How can you use their best content to inspire your own?
Feedback. Ask for resources such as a great bookkeeper, fabulous virtual assistant, exceptional resume writer or wonderful web designer.
Challenge. Issue a challenge to your audience. I’ve challenged my followers to make cold calls to 5 people within 24 hours that they’ve held back on reaching out to—and I’ve encouraged them to share the feedback.
Gift. Send a book or promotional item to the first five people who respond to a specific call to action.
Health. Even if it has nothing to do with your field, remind women every so often about mammograms, heart health and other important life-saving matters.
Wish. Offer special wishes to fans and friends on their birthdays or anniversaries. Everyone loves to be remembered.
Photos. Poke around other people’s pages and profiles and study the ones that use many photos. Force yourself to capture moments with your cell phone or digital camera at work that others will enjoy. Once you get in the habit, it becomes easier to find stuff to share.
Video. Even more powerful that photos, create original videos for your outreach. The popularity of YouTube should be enough to convince you that video is an extraordinary way to get your message across. Many of the elements above can be recorded by you on video and shared, especially if you have a build in recorder on your computer or phone. (Hint: If you’re truly camera-shy and not too convincing in video, skip this.)
Wildcard. Sometimes you’ll just write about the most random stuff. And that’s ok—you don’t have to follow a standard script every day.
Teach. Teach your audience a tech trick that someone else taught you.
Like. Click the “like” button on Facebook to acknowledge your appreciation for someone else’s page or wall content. And don’t be shy about telling them why you liked it.
Holidays. Use holidays for blogging content, tweets, wall posts, discussion group comments and e-newsletter content. They represent a goldmine of opportunity if you’re clever.
YOU. Above all, be yourself. Use your authentic, true voice in all you write. Don’t wait for people to find you and your brilliant content—work the system to generate followers too. Have fun doing it while always keeping your strategic purpose in mind. (Spark & Hustle)

Each of the tips offered by Johnson range in applicability, but it’s likely every blogger can benefit from implementing even a handful of her suggestions. This week, I’ll specifically be challenging myself to congratulate and recommend.

What Do You Think: What tips will you challenge yourself to adopt in your own use of social media?

Sources: Spark & Hustle, Social Networking Content Creation- Getting Started; Good Morning America, “What Women Need to Know to Get Ahead“, (December 13, 2010); Women For Hire