Archive for February, 2011
Monday, February 28th, 2011
Networking—a fancy way of saying getting to know people—is an important part of business. At general events, it is one of the most effective ways to gain new clients and customers and increase your business revenues. Networking at industry affairs is an excellent way to meet others who work in your field. You can even use networking concepts within your own organization, to get to know folks you do not work with on a day-to-day basis. If you are among the many people—including myself—who say they plan to increase their networking efforts this year, here are a few basic networking etiquette tips to achieving the optimum results from your efforts.
BEFORE THE EVENT
Plan Ahead. Pick out what you plan to wear at least 24-48 hours ahead of time, so you won’t get caught only having dirty clothes in the closet. Set aside all you will need for the event, including a copy of the invitation, directions to get there, and a pen and pad for notes. Most importantly make sure you have an ample supply of business cards to give people you meet. Even when unemployed or a student you can print your own cards with basic information on it… Name, Telephone, Email Address, plus a title or one line description of the position you are seeking.
AT THE EVENT
Arrive on time. Before entering the event, preview the guest list or the display of pre-printed name tags to target two to three people to meet during the event.
Introduce yourself. Be brave, most people will appreciate that you’ve taken the initiative to speak to them. I recommend always introducing yourself with both your first and last name, company affiliation without any titles or honorifics, and a smile. It amazes me so many people still introduce themselves with just their first name and no company affiliation, as if they are still five years old at a friend’s birthday party!
Extend your hand for a firm and friendly handshake. When it comes to shaking hands, I believe in the law of the draw in the Old West…whoever extends their hand first is the winner. It should be you, regardless of being a man or woman. Always push your hand in all the way to meet web-to-web, with your fingers together and your palm straight out and thumb up. Never give a finger tip hold or short handshake which is commonly just squeezing the other person’s hand short o meeting web-to-web. Remember a good handshake is completed by shaking a woman’s hand no differently than a man’s hand. There are no double standards in business.
Rehearse your introduction. Plan the best way to briefly describe yourself and the products and services you provide, from a benefit-and-results basis. Avoid long, technical descriptions that simply tell the person boring facts as well as the sales pitch approach. Instead, make the tone a friendly yet informative conversation.
Make business card exchanges meaningful. The “speed dating” days are over when networking amounted to saying, “Hello, my name is Jane Smith, have a card.” Instead, only exchange cards with someone when it will be of benefit to both of you. There are two basic reasons to give someone your card: when the other person asks for one or when you offer assistance with something they want or need and want them to follow-up with you. After giving them your card, then ask for their contact information.
Enter group conversations sensitively. When entering a group, approach and stand quietly for a second or two. Wait for a break in the conversation or for someone in the group to look your way. If no one looks in your direction and everyone continues the conversation without any break or glance in your direction, exit immediately with “excuse me.” It is apparent they are in a heavy conversation, not choosing to invite anyone else into the conversation.
Exit conversations politely. Even if you are face-to-face with someone you’ve wanted to meet at this event, avoid monopolizing their time. Keep your time from being monopolized by someone else, as well. After a reasonable time, exchanging some meaningful information, comfortably move from the conversation by saying, “Please excuse me, I’ve enjoyed speaking with you.” Then smile and move on.
Introduce yourself to tablemates. When being seated at a large table, go around the table to introduce yourself before taking a seat. Choose a seat on the opposite side of the person(s) you’ve just met, leaving seats on either side of you vacant, to be filled by other arriving guests. This way you will comfortably meet everyone at the table.
AFTER THE EVENT
Follow-up. The key to successful networking is to show you are interested in the people you meet. For the most impact, sending a personal handwritten note—by regular mail, within 24 to 48 hours—to every person you met and reconnected with at a networking opportunity is the best. Emailing and placing a personal telephone call is also appropriate, including writing or calling someone who has helped give you leads and referrals. Be sure to fulfill any promises you made to people you’ve met. .
Get permission before sharing contact information. Check-in with someone before you share their contact information, even when you think you are doing someone a great favor. In instances where I have gained overall permission to share someone’s information, I send both parties an email, stating: “By copy this message to both of you, I am referring Jane Doe to John Smith, in hopes you two may be of service to each other by….” Then I include full contact information on both people. This way everyone is fully informed of the situation.
For additional information on “Online Discussion Group Networking Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts” (also at www.quintcareers.com/online_networking-dos-donts.html) and for tips on “Etiquette for LinkedIn and the Professional Networking World” (also at http://www.intuitive.com/blog/etiquette_for_linkedin_and_the_professional_networking_world.html)
Thursday, February 17th, 2011
There is an art to attending professional conferences. Invariably as the season begins I’m asked about the etiquette of attending conferences. If you thought it was quite enough to simply pay the fees and show up, think again.
Whether you are just getting started or you are a seasoned conference participant, let’s face it, attending a conference requires expending your personal resources—money, time, physical and mental commitment. So, why not make the most of the experience!
BEFORE THE CONFERENCE
- Mark your calendar to plan ahead. Do yourself a favor, take time to plan ahead and make the most of your investment. Read all information about the conference beforehand. About 30 days out, review any additional conference information sent via email or posted online at the sponsoring organization’s web site. Make note of the specific workshops you want to attend. Begin planning your wardrobe to match the weather conditions of the host locale, paying close attention to any special requests for attire to attend certain events, e.g., the Saturday evening formal awards banquet.
- Be prepared with all items needed for the conference: Let’s face it, people attend conferences to network, learn new ideas, get their name and company known, and promote their product or service. One of etiquette’s biggest taboos is to show up at conferences without bringing enough hand-outs. Do whatever is necessary to assure an ample supply of business cards and information you want to distribute during the conference. In fact, bring double or triple the amount you would normally think to bring; or arrange to use a local copy center. Better to bring home extras than to disappoint your colleagues by not having enough.Starting about a month in advance, compile a list of all items you will need to begin packing for an out of town conference. Pay attention to the details, including outlining the proper attire for various events. Perhaps there’s a formal night or a themed event, such as a Western night. A good way to make a poor impression is to arrive at a formal event night wearing daily street clothes. This kind of behavior tells your colleagues you didn’t read the literature or care enough to honor the event. Don’t be surprised if by not dressing appropriately, you will not allowed inside. More about wardrobe planning: most conference sites keep you apprised of weather conditions for the location to which you will be traveling, and whether there will be any outdoor events for which you should be packing a warm sweater or jacket. Pay attention to the type of facility you will be visiting, such as the appropriate attire for a big city hotel, versus a golf resort, versus a private club in a vacation locale. Each has it’s own culture when it comes to attire.
- Be responsive to all requests for information: From the time you register to attend the conference, till the end evaluation form, be sensitive to the needs of the organizers. Show your sense of responsibility by sending complete and accurate paperwork at all times, and by the due date. There is nothing worse for a organizer than to have to chase down and baby-sit someone to get necessary items.
AT THE CONFERENCE
- Arrive at the conference ahead of time. This is the perfect time to check in early, get your full package of conference materials and relax in your room to read through everything. NOTE: This is not a time to penny-pinch on spending for an extra room night. With airline schedules being unreliable for one reason or another, it is always best to arrive hours and even a day ahead. Use this extra time to rejuvenate your strength for the rigorous days ahead. Take a walk around the hotel facility and grounds to become familiar with where various rooms are located and the travel patterns you will need to take to get from one place to another during the conference. Learn how long it will take to walk from one location to another to avoid ever being late to an activity. Once the event gets underway and you’re running to keep up with tight meeting schedules, get-togethers with colleagues and more, you’ll be glad you took this extra time upon arrival.
- Wear your name badge at all times. Because I attend lots of professional meetings, I always carry my own magnetic name badge holder and wear it on my upper right shoulder. This allows me to achieve the best networking support at all times. I want people to see my name badge and remember who I am. As a result, I will not wear a badge using a lanyard around my neck. Here’s why: it rarely faces forward for someone to easily see, it is positioned halfway down my chest which draws the eye to an area of my body I don’t prefer people staring at; and when I’m sitting at a table, it’s totally out of sight. To me, lanyard style badges are ideal for tradeshows and exhibitions, where badges are more for identification purposes than for real networking.
- Be on time throughout the conference. From the moment the conference begins, right through to the end be respectful of the overall timeline for the conference; always stay with the schedule. Do not allow yourself to be delayed inbetween sessions. If you want to speak with someone get their room number, cell phone number, or set an appointment to meet later at a certain time and place. Neither the organizers nor the presenters appreciate being ignored or unnecessarily interrupted.
- Meet and greet everyone with a proper handshake, a smile, and good eye contact: With every day that passes, it continues to amaze me how so-called professional men and women still do not know how to give a firm and proper handshake, do not give proper eye contact, and barely smile when meeting someone. I’d like to think no one reading this newsletter has an issue with this item. Perhaps you have read my past newsletters on Handshaking Techniques, Eye Contact, and Networking skills. Look them up at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/backissues.
- Create a plan for organizing the contacts you make. Take time at the end of each day to make notes about each person you meet. Organize cards and notes in a way it will be easy for you to follow-up after the conference. If you are unsure about someone, take a moment the next day to say hello to the person again; clarify whatever you need.
- Do not sign up for more than one session at the same time. Choose the one best session you want to attend and then find a conference buddy to get you extra hand-outs from the other sessions.
- Remain silent during all announcements and speeches. Perhaps this is the hottest issue I hear about over and over again — participants being discourteous to the speaker. No matter how difficult it may be to hear the speaker, how boring the person may be, or if the announcement or speech is being spoken in a foreign language you don’t understand, you must remain silent as a courtesy to the speaker. If you must talk to someone, leave the room. If you must take a cell phone call, leave the room. Please do everyone a favor, the next time this situation happens at your table, quietly and politely ask the person to remain silent, so you can hear what’s being said. And, if you are the offender, stop it!
- Stay alert throughout the conference. Conferences lasting more than a day can be exhausting. To prevent falling asleep, eat lightly throughout the conference. Drink more water than usual and keep all alcohol consumption to a minimum. Take short walks whenever possible. Wear loose and comfortable clothes and shoes. Most importantly, maintain good posture at all times. Don’t slouch in the chair. Take quiet, periodic deep breaths to help the flow of oxygen and blood throughout the body. Pace yourself to get proper rest and sleep. Sneaking a quick 15-minute nap here and there does wonders.
- Do not make a fuss or be a complainer. No one enjoys hearing complaints or criticisms about how things are being handled during a conference. When a negative situation arises you feel needs to be reported, remain calm, explain the situation in a normal tone of voice, and ask for reasonable, mutually agreeable solutions. Thereafter, keep to yourself whatever other complaints you may have. Most professional meetings request that you complete an evaluation sheet. This is the best time to write down complaints and helpful suggestions for improvement. Or, at the close of the meeting email or call the organizers to submit your thoughts.
AFTER THE CONFERENCE
Follow-up with everyone you meet. You just never know who will turn out to be a valuable resource, treasured colleague, or lasting friend. So, why not do the right thing and follow the advice of the best etiquette books, which tell us it’s good manners to follow-up with everyone we meet, and to certainly follow-up with whatever you may have promised. We all know how difficult this task is. Some people use their return flight time to write thank- you notes. It is well known the #1 sign of a true professional is when s/he tackles this chore … so just do it!
TIP: When first announcing your plans to attend a conference, tell everyone you are leaving a day earlier than the actual departure date and tell everyone you will be returning one day later. Then use these two bookend times to focus on making the most of the experience. Use the day before to finalize last-minute details and prepare. Use the day immediately after to focus on starting your follow-up work— while contacts are still fresh in your mind.
Another idea is to actually stay an extra night at the hotel so you can relax and begin your follow-up work uninterrupted; not to mention resting up. This also could be a good time to arrange meetings with colleagues you met at the conference who, like you, have delayed departure time. Or, just use this extra time to be a tourist and enjoy the sights.
Thursday, February 17th, 2011
In all cultures around the world there are times of the year to show our love and appreciation to those who touch our lives, including our parents, family, friends, neighbors, clients, customers, staff, suppliers, vendors, colleagues, associates, and the list goes on. However, you need not wait until a special day to show your appreciation for a job well done or your gratitude for a special favor. While there are infinite ways to show appreciation, here are eight ideas to consider:
1. Holiday Cards: This is the most popular way we share our greetings during any holiday season, yet many people send a pre-printed signature card without writing at least a little personal note. No one likes receiving generic cards. Write a small note.
2. Personal Notes: A personal, handwritten note truly shows your love, whether you write it on a holiday greeting card or any piece of paper. The point is that you took the time to write. A personal note is especially valuable if your company discourages gift giving. A note can say volumes, all by itself.
3. Gifts and gift cards: If giving a gift for any occasion take the time to choose a gift you know the person will like. Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase it under stress. Instead, buy gifts throughout the year, whenever you see something you think a particular person will appreciate. For gift cards, find out which store the person likes best, and buy your card there.
NOTE: Be careful when purchasing gift cards that the store or company will be in business for the next year.
4. Meals and special events: One of my favorite ways to show appreciation is to invite someone to my home or out to a restaurant for a meal. I also enjoy inviting people to be my guest at a special event. It’s a great way to spend time together and support an event. The key is sharing time together.
5. Days off: Some companies give their staff a week or two off for vacation. Some the entire week between Christmas and the New Year off. Others give employees their birthday off. Have fun thinking up a surprise day off for your company.
6. Money: In the Asian culture the most popular way of giving gifts is in red envelopes for all sorts of occasions. In the western culture, year-end and holiday bonuses are more typical.
7. Trips: Based on achieving company goals each year, one company I know treats the entire staff to a one-week, all expenses paid trip to Hawaii. Although definitely extravagant, perhaps other trips can be something to consider.
8. Telephone calls and personal visits: We all love receiving telephone calls from friends with whom we haven’t connected in a while. Reconnect with loved ones, especially the elderly, who may be living alone or in a rest home.
Most of all don’t wait for a special holiday to do any of the above. Set your own plan of action to show appreciation and gratitude anytime throughout the year.
Enjoy… and Happy Practicing!
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
I love being Chinese. It allows me extra time to “get my act together” before starting the New Year. Somehow January 1 comes around much to quickly after the other year-end holidays.
Each year the Chinese/Lunar New Year begins sometime in January or February which is much more comfortable a start date for me.
Do you know under what animal year you were born? When born in mid-January to mid-February, it may not be on the animal shown on regular charts. You may fall in the previous year. See the following to learn what sign you fall under… http://lynncoins.com/chinese_new_year.htm and at http://www.chinese-traditions-and-culture.com/chinese-zodiac-year.html. In 2013, it begins on 10 February, The Year of the Snake, Year 4711.
During this annual festive period, I honor my heritage by doing my best to practice the ten rituals listed below. I hope you enjoy learning about these Asian traditions and consider celebrating the Chinese New Year as I do. I believe you will find many of these ancient customs quite practical today.
The Lunar New Year holiday is celebrated by many Asian cultures. Most typically it is celebrated over a minimum three-day period to about fifteen days surrounding the first full moon of the year. Rituals begin the day before the full moon, the day of the full moon, and the day following the full moon.
1. Pay off all debts by the end of the year. Starting weeks and perhaps months ahead of time, save money in order to begin the New Year without debt and with something in the bank to pay for the celebration to come.
2. Clean your house from top to bottom before the New Year arrives. As a reward for your hard work, house cleaning is not allowed during the New Year holiday, to assure that you do not sweep away any good luck.
3. Decorate your home with special paper greetings, flowers, and fruits. Tie greeting cards and good luck symbols on a blooming tree you can purchase or make one yourself. By having or placing an abundance of fragrant flowers and fruits on the tree, the luckier the family will be in the New Year.
4. Wear new clothes on the first day of the New Year. Wearing new cloths help signify the beginning of a New Year clean and fresh.
5. Invite the entire family over on New Year’s Eve. Use this special time to renew your love for one another and share the transition between the old year and New Year.
6. Say Happy Birthday. Everyone becomes a year older with the New Year, no matter when your birthday actually occurs. Give children red “Lai See” envelopes with “good luck” money inside. This tradition is also used for many other festive occasions, in lieu of modern gift-giving practices.
7. Honor and remember ancestors. Display photos of deceased family members and loved ones. Over the New Year, create an altar with food and fruits and burning incense to fill your home with well-being.
8. Cook up a storm, enough for the three-day celebration. Include in your preparations all your favorite dishes, plus a few traditional New Year standards. Plan ahead because you should not “dig for” or run water during the first day in the New Year. This gives the earth and water a day of rest, too. Have fun dining at a Chinese restaurant. But be aware, your favorite places may be closed on New Years Day, as well as other establishments owned by celebrating Asians.
9. Visit family and friends. As the first day in the New Year is spent with your immediate family, the second day in the New Year is often spent inviting good friends and special guests over. The third day in the modern tradition is to celebrate with teachers and business associates.
10. Pay significant attention to your actions. Acknowledge the first time you perform everyday tasks in the New Year. Do not show anger at anyone during the first three days in the New Year. It is especially improper to tell a lie, raise your voice, use indecent language, or break anything on the first day of the New Year.
1. Build new friendships: This is a great time of year to develop a new friendship with someone you know who is from an Asian culture who celebrates the Lunar New Year. Perhaps it’s someone at work, a neighbor, or someone within the community in which you live. Share with them how you have been reading about the upcoming Lunar/Chinese New Year and wanted to wish them a Happy New Year. To wish someone who observes the holiday a Happy New Year will definitely light up their day and bring you closer to each other as friends.
2. Other resources: For additional information on this festive holiday… and information on festivities in the San Francisco area, here are a few web sites for you to view:
— www.educ.uvic.ca/faculty/mroth/438/China/traditional_foods.html for a brief description of traditional foods served during this holiday.
— www.chineseparade.com for information on the festivities happening in San Francisco, where the largest celebration occurs outside of Asia.
Gung Hay Fat Choy!… Gong Xi Fa Cai !… Sun Neen Fi Lok!… Xin Nian Kuai Le!… Happy Prosperity and Happy New Year!