Monday, October 20, 2014
Do you sometimes feel like you're wearing Harry Potter's "cloak of invisibility" at work?
No one really pays attention to you. You're often interrupted when speaking in a meeting, and your boss scarcely seems to know who you are.
Perhaps the problem is not what you’re saying, but how and when you’re saying it.
Let’s say that you’re on the agenda of the next office meeting to give a brief rundown of a project you’ve been working on for several months. You’ve been scheduled as the next to the last item, right after a request from the office manager to stop leaving spoiled food in the refrigerator.
Chances are good that people will not be alert and listening by this point. In fact, they’ve probably started checking emails and posting their favorite Halloween costumes for dogs on Pinterest.
How can you compete with a bulldog dressed as a pirate?
That's why it's important to think about the timing of what you say. In this case, get your item moved to earlier in the agenda.Remember: No matter how interesting your project is, people are probably not going to be in the mood to be receptive and excited about it, simply because they’re tired and fed up and bored. Instead, by getting an earlier time slot, you have a better chance of getting others to listen to you.
Another way to get others to pay more attention to what you’re saying is by joining forces with an already popular person or group. For example, if someone in your office has just gotten major funding for a project, is there a way you can tie your work into that? By piggybacking your efforts onto something that is already well-positioned, you increase your chances of being heard.
Some other ways to get yourself on the radar with others:
· Schedule face time. The boss may be busy, but tell his or her executive assistant you need some one-on-one time with the boss and ask to be put on the boss’s schedule. It helps enormously if you’re polite, friendly and professional with the assistant so that you can get a time slot when the boss won’t be rushed or stressed. Always try to avoid Monday mornings or Friday afternoons, when the boss may be the most distracted.
· Be at the right place at the right time. If an important client or potential customer attends a certain gym, arrange to “run into” them. “Oh, I’m glad I ran into you. I’ve been meaning to give you an update of my project. I’m starting to wind it up, so can I call you this week?” This make it sounds like you’re doing a nice thing, and doesn’t sound needy or pushy.
· Avoid interruptions. While some people like to schedule breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings, the atmosphere makes it difficult for someone to concentrate on what you’re saying. The serving of the meal, the chatter of nearby customers and other interruptions make it tough to keep the focus on your message. It’s better to try and have a meeting set for a private location where you won’t have distractions.
· Be prepared. Whether you’re speaking to two people or 200, if you want people to listen to you, you must do your homework. Be armed with interesting facts and work on using inflection in your voice as well as some hand gestures. Maintain eye contact. Watch how key players seem to gain the attention of others, and learn from it.
· Listen. The key to communicating well with others is learning to listen so that you can respond appropriately to questions and react to changes in the conversation. People will listen to you when they know you are listening to them.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Friday, October 10, 2014
During the height of the Great Recession, job fairs were a mob scene. People with 30 years of experience were standing next to recent college graduates, all clamoring for work.
But as things have improved, many people don't think that job fairs are worth their time.
Job fairs are a great chance to practice your networking skills and develop your personal brand pitch. They're the perfect opportunity for you to hone your professional persona and to learn to handle meeting new people with ease.
But before you put on the business suit, here are a few things to remember before attending a job fair:
· Do your homework. Once you decide on the job fair, research the employers who will be attending. What does the company do? How many employees do they have? What is the mission statement? How could your skills fit into that environment? Use the Internet or call the company for an information packet before the event so that you’re prepared to ask questions of the recruiter. The candidate who can move beyond, “What does your company do?” will be noticed.
· Be organized. Once you’ve researched the employers, keep your information in files to be reviewed before each conversation. Don’t be worried if the recruiter sees your notes – it will show that you cared enough to do the research and are approaching the fair professionally. Don’t juggle a coat, papers, umbrella, coffee cup, etc. Carry your things in a professional tote or briefcase, and keep your coat hung up or neatly folded over your arm. Eat or drink away from the recruiter tables – keep at least one hand free to shake hands and accept business cards. If there is free merchandise, don’t try to keep track of that as well. If you don’t have a bag to store it, leave it. It’s much more important that you look professional, not like a kid at the carnival.
· Hone your message. You won’t have much time to meet with recruiters, and they will want to hear your qualifications clearly and concisely so they can move on to other candidates. Practice your promotional message that outlines your strengths and how you could be of value to the company. Look for specific strengths. Saying you’re a “people person” doesn’t say much, but saying that you are detail-oriented and thrive on helping solve problems tells the recruiter more, especially if you can concisely cite an example.
· Look and sound the part. Dress professionally and neatly and make sure your breath is fresh and hair neatly combed. (Don’t chew gum.) Make eye contact and always offer a firm handshake. When you speak, make sure you keep your head up and pointed toward the interviewer. Job fairs can get noisy – don’t shout, but project your voice clearly.
· Take notes and get names. Have a pad and pen ready so that you can take notes from your interview. Keep the recruiter’s business card with your notes, and make sure you get an address so that you can send a thank-you note after the job fair. Your notes should keep track of particular interests of the employer, the qualifications being sought and where and when you can do further interviewing.