Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
In fashion, what's old is often new again.
If you doubt it, just look at the styles coming out this spring: 1950s-style dresses for women and streamlined suits for men just like the characters in Mad Men.
You may also want to heed another fashion from that era: in-person networking.
You're not likely to see anyone on Mad Men use online social networking to forge a relationship although they do put the "social" in networking with their lunch meetings and after-hour soirees. If you watch those interactions, you'll see a good example of how the art of building relationships has been lost through too much reliance on technical gadgets, one expert says.
Vicky Oliver, author of numerous books on career development such as 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, says it's time that people learned some of the best techniques for networking don't come from friending someone on Facebook or tweeting tidbits to strangers. While she believes those social networks are useful, we all should learn to embrace "retro" techniques.
Of course, not everyone will like the idea of coming out from behind their computers and entering a roomful of strangers to network or getting on the phone to ask someone for help, she says.
"Everybody is shy," she says. "But it gets better with practice. Even striking up a 2-minute conversation with someone while waiting somewhere is a good chance to practice your skills."
So you have to put away your smartphone or drop the iPad and learn to take every opportunity to interact with someone face to face. Here are some of Oliver's suggestions for honing your networking skills:
• Travel the friendly skies. Join an airline club so you have time to mingle with others in an airport lounge.
Use layover times in airports to schedule meetings with someone in that city. Use an online golf club to book a game with other business travelers once you reach your destination.
• Volunteer. The great thing about working at a food bank or other community event is that you'll meet a diverse group of people from your area in a relaxed setting.
Not only will you make a good first impression because you're volunteering your time but you'll also feel an immediate connection with others because you support the same cause. It's often easier to strike up a conversation while boxing food or doing some other task where you don't feel as if you're in the spotlight.
• See life as a team sport. Join activities where you'll be around lots of other people.
Joining collectors at hobby shows, participating in a biking club or even starting your own book group will help you develop interpersonal skills and potentially lead to valuable professional connections.
• Learn from the masters. Next time you're at a social or professional gathering, look for the person who seems to be the life of the event.
That person is a master connector who is comfortable in such an arena and can be key in introducing you to others.
Don't fret that you'll be bothering the person if you introduce yourself and ask for help in meeting others because such people thrive in building relationships. Pay attention to the person's body language, tone of voice and the topics of conversation because these are all lessons you want to learn.
• Make social networking more useful. Using Twitter and Facebook can be helpful in making initial contact with someone but pursue tweet-ups in person or make an appointment to meet someone from Facebook at a conference you're both attending.
With LinkedIn, consider removing your "anonymous" tag when viewing someone else's profile.
"This will then let you see who is looking you up," Oliver says. "When I did it I was absolutely shocked to see who was looking at my profile. It can help you follow up and make a good contact."
Friday, April 13, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Journalism has always been one of those professions that demands experience before you even get your first job at a television station or newspaper.
In my case, I began working for the school newspaper and writing articles for my hometown newspaper by the time I was 17.
In college, I was required to work on the school newspaper and have internships before I graduated.
The result is that I entered my first job with real-world newspaper experience, and I not only benefited from all those years in the field, but so did my employer.
It seems more employers are clamoring for such experience, no matter the job. I recently did a story for Gannett/USAToday that shows one school meeting the need....
Since the economic downturn, one of the biggest problems for recent college graduates has been a dearth of real-world job experience.
They may have degrees from well-respected institutions, but many have been unable to get jobs because employers would rather choose workers with experience in their industries.
For the past 100 years, Northeastern University in Boston has had a program that addresses this issue. The institution partners with companies around the world as part of a co-op program to put students in the workplace before graduation.
The university received more than 43,000 applications for a freshman class of less than 3,000 in 2011, andPresident Joseph E. Aoun says he believes the number is that high because of the co-op arrangement and the part it plays in getting students jobs after graduation.
"Employers tell us they want those who have had real-world experience, especially on a global level," Aoun says.
Northeastern University students apply for opportunities to work for six months for some 2,700 employers around the world, in profit and nonprofit organizations. Students are interviewed before being offered positions.
Once a student's time with an employer is complete, students return to their classes although they can apply for future co-op opportunities, says Renata Nyul, the university's director of communications.
The downside: Students may need five years to complete college if they are hired for or more co-op jobs. But most find it's worth the wait; the National of Association of Colleges and Employers reports that 60 percent of students with internships or co-op experiences are offered full-time jobs upon graduating.
"We were happily surprised" when the number of co-op opportunities for students didn't drop during the recession and actually increased, Aoun says.
"Employers told us that they stopped offering summer internships because they did not think it was fruitful for them," he says. In summer internships, "they only had two months with the students, and the first month was spent just training them."
With the co-op program's six-month stint, employers said they had a chance to train the students, expose them to different skills and opportunities, and really assess whether a person was a good fit for the organization, Aoun says.
In the past five years, Aoun says the program has become more global, a boon for students because companies focused on competing internationally are interested in future employees who may have worked overseas.
"They want the students to be of the world," he says.
Even the application process for the co-op program gives students real-world experience, Nyul says. It teaches them how to promote their qualifications, interview with an employer and present themselves in a positive and professional manner.
While most students do receive a salary while working a co-op job, some scholarship money is available if a student will be working for a nonprofit and needing help with living expenses, she says.
Students in any major can apply for the jobs, and one student even did a co-op stint in Antarctica, Nyul says. About 7,000 students participate in the co-op program every year.
Aoun says the program continues to evolve as students and employers give feedback on how to refine it.
"Right now, I think we're in a period of knowledge explosion," he says. "Fields are growing constantly, so we're now looking at co-ops in not only established fields, but in new areas."
Historian James Truslow Adams once said there are "two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living, And the other how to live."
"This kind of program does both," Aoun says. "It's a different philosophy of learning. It teaches students how to make a living and how to live."
Friday, April 6, 2012
People known for their charisma must have been born with it — because if charisma could be learned everyone would have it, right?
Olivia Fox Cabane says charisma can be learned, but many people don't understand how to go about it. They make attempts that fall flat or use strategies that make them seem fake, annoying and arrogant.
"You can be born with a predisposition for charisma," she says. "And some people are naturally better at it than others, just as some people are naturally better drivers than others
"But just like driving, charisma is a skill," she says.
As an executive coach, Cabane has run into many people who use charisma correctly and recently wrote a book, "The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism," (Porfolio, $25.95)
"The thing to remember is that some of the most charismatic people — such as Bill Clinton or Oprah Winfrey— are also the most disciplined," she says. "They pay an extreme amount of attention to what another person is saying and don't get distracted."
That ability to listen intently and make a person feel like he or she is the most important one in the room is a key trait to learn if you want to be more charismatic. Among Cabane's suggestions:
• Get in the mood. Before going to an event, think about which meetings or activities you will be attending.
During this time, try to avoid difficult conversations and focus on pleasant or fun interactions. Consider using a music playlist that gives you the energy boost you need or helps you move into a calmer state.
• Choose your style. Not everyone has the same type of charisma.
It could be that a certain situation calls for you to be more kind and empathetic to others while a situation at work calls for you to be more charismatic by demonstrating confidence and authority — or you may have to move between different kinds of charisma.
• Listen carefully. It's not enough to stay quiet and watch the other person's mouth move.
You've got to be really tuned into what they're saying or it will be evident. If you find yourself zoning out, try focusing on your toes, which will "force your mind to sweep through your body," she says.
Another trick: Pretend the person is the subject of an independent short film and you're doing a character study, Cabane says.
• Be aware of feelings. No one will think you're charismatic if you evoke bad feelings.
Highlight what someone does right more than you point out what is wrong. If someone pays you a compliment, don't brush it off but take a moment to enjoy it and then let the person see that you're pleased.
Offer a "thank you very much" or tell the person that their kind words made your day.
• Mirror body language. Don't invade someone's personal space or dart your eyes around when listening.
Assume the same kind of body language as the other person to promote comfort. If someone is hostile or defensive, hand him or her something to look at, which can help break a rigid posture.
• Email doesn't count. "There is no such thing as email charisma," Cabane says.
"Face to face is the way you develop charisma. If you're on the phone, you can have voice charisma," she says. "Be warm, be present and don't try to do something else like typing on your computer."
What the biggest mistake people make when trying to be charismatic? Cabane says many people have running conversations in their head "full of self-recrimination" for what they said or didn't say.
This distraction is evident and undermines your ability to be present and be confident. It also makes people think you're cold, aloof or arrogant, she says.
"Your own criticism is what undermines your ability to be charismatic," Cabane says.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Achieving work/life balance has been credited with making workers more productive, more loyal and less stressed, and yet a recent survey from Harvard Business School shows that even global executives feel the need to be on the job 24/7. One even commented that his own inability to delegate means that subordinates should “be prepared to get emails at night.”
Said another: “I think that people today expect that you are available and going to be available at all times, and if you don’t return an email within an hour, or even minutes, then people think that you are not paying attention to them.”