For shy networkers, building your network can be a challenge. A week ago, I attended a business mixer sponsored by the Portland Business Journal, and was immediately reminded about something. RELATED: 10 Tips For People Who Hate Networking As I walked into the crowded room of about 200 professionals, I remembered that keeping up the art of networking requires you to keep working at it. Like exercising a muscle, you need to keep flexing it in order to keep it in shape. Not that I have any excuse... I have been (ahem) a little negligent myself lately in getting out into true networking situations where I don’t know anyone. A heavy client load and multiple projects have kept my time constrained to running from appointment to appointment, with no time (or energy) to commit to going to any after-hours networking events. I’ve been too exhausted. But that is no excuse. I realized it had been awhile since the last networking event that I had attended, and silently resolved to get myself back out there. So, as I entered that room, I suddenly realized how flabby my networking muscle was. And I’ll admit it: I was scared since I knew a total of two people out of that crowd. Why was I scared? Because deep down, I am actually a horrifically shy person. And when anyone who is shy is thrust into a setting where it is densely packed and they don’t really know anyone, the natural instinct is to clam up and find a corner of the room for shelter. It was all I could do to force myself into the heaving crowd. But I did it. When people reveal to me that they are shy or have a hard time networking, I know that pain... personally. But you CAN get past it and it can open up new doors in ways you couldn’t have imagined. During the event, I pushed myself past the shyness envelope, made eye contact with strangers, and stuck out my hand to say hello. I met a lot of people that night through the power of networking. One gentleman I met was interested in resume writing services for himself (he contacted me later to follow up- a good sign); another was slipping past a door I was standing near and I jokingly said, “In order to pass, you need to introduce yourself.” Turns out he was an executive coach and after chatting, we set up a meeting the very next day to figure out how we could refer business to each other. And a client of mine (one of the two people I knew at the event) was chatting with another gentleman to whom she introduced me... turns out he was involved with a workforce board and we had a lot to discuss. Since then, we have met in person over coffee and shared ideas over e-mail. So, if you say you are shy and that is the reason why you aren’t good at networking, that is a self-imposed barrier you have put up in front of yourself. Yes, it can be uncomfortable. But here are a few quick tips for you to get through that initial awkward conversational stage and transform the people you meet at events into powerful contacts in your network:
Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” He couldn’t be more right. Related: 4 Types Of Job Attitudes – Which One Are You? I remember when I lived next to an exceptionally grouchy old neighbor. No matter what, I always said “hello” when I spotted him outside sitting on his porch. “How are you doing?,” I would venture. His response? “Just TERRIBLE.” It never varied. Day after day, the same reply. And he sat alone on that porch, day after day. I never did see him smile or look happy. And that kept me and other neighbors away. We tried reaching out, but his attitude was so awful that everyone finally gave up. Now, imagine that in a job search. Yes, looking for a job, especially when you aren’t working, really sucks. But so does a bad attitude. Do you really think that people want to be around someone who is grouchy and negative all the time? I didn’t think so. Keeping an upbeat attitude (despite the occasional pity party) is critical to your success. Positive attracts positive. Negative simply repels everything it comes into contact. Your attitude soaks into everything you do - how you talk, how you walk, how you look someone in the eye, how you respond, how you engage. Your attitude, truly, is everything. It defines you and your job search. So, pick up the pieces, and keep going, and don’t become that grouchy old neighbor who ended up being all alone. This post was originally published at an earlier date. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
We've all had that awful job interview where either we bobbled a question someone tossed at us (Like, "If you could be any animal, what would you be?"), or we gave a bad answer and smacked our foreheads afterward because we realized we could have given a much better answer. Watch: 2 Steps To Being More Likable During Interviews I talk to a lot of people who are very stressed out about interviews and loathe them because they've had bad ones. Many say they would rather go have a root canal than go through the painful examination of an interview. But you know what? Interviews are actually good for you. Why? Think about it. They put us on the spot in a way we usually don't encounter on a daily basis. An interview actually is a very powerful experience because you learn how you react under pressure. If you really want to get over those jitters, you'll need to do an autopsy to discover what you need to know and/or work on to improve your skills in these situations.
Do you think it's time you moved ahead in your career? Many of us land a job and are extremely grateful to be employed, but always harbor a dream that someday we will move up within the organization. RELATED: Need career advice? Watch these tutorials! But opportunities usually just don’t fall out of the sky, and getting the right alignment of the sun, moon, and the stars requires some hustle on your end to make it all happen. But first, think about things from the boss’ point of view. If you were in the big cheese’s chair, what would you look for in your employees when determining whether or not to promote them? There are always going to be those tricky political situations where supervisors promote their favorite “pets” and of course, the gooey people who rain down praise and platitudes to their superiors in an attempt to score favor (sickening, isn’t it?). Trying to get yourself ahead in either one of these situations is extremely tough considering how much you might have to compromise your principles to curry favor with the boss. Here are five tips for climbing the career ladder:
A hot topic in the careers industry right now is company culture, and probably the biggest issue of all: what exactly is it? Related: 3 Sneaky Ways To Research A Company Talk to any career or human resource professional, and you’ll likely get a wide range of definitions. However, one thing holds absolutely true no matter what: Company culture can define a business. Companies that have a positive work brand presence attract people who want to work for them. You’ve seen those examples on the news: Google has playrooms and goof-off space. Nike has a large campus and gym with a giant track surrounding it. Oooooh, sweeeeeeeet! Wouldn’t it be great to work at those companies? But let’s take a little closer look at what company culture really means. Companies who champion emotional intelligence in their leaders cultivate trust and loyalty within staff. The ones that succeed in building a superior company culture have built a strong reputation for respecting and recognizing employees, which in turn, attracts top talent. Perks are nice, but individual recognition and connection of talent to task matter more, and leaders who are savvy enough to be in tune with their employees’ needs can guide development of the company culture into "'fun." Another aspect of creating a positive workplace is through reinforcing the value of the tasks assigned to employees; staff will end up taking pride in their individual ownership of job responsibilities. In a perfect scenario, the most important person is the one who is at the front line; a good company culture will make the receptionist feel they count and have a personal stake in the company’s success.
If you ask any successful business person about how they got their career start, you’ll more than likely see a wistful look in their eye as they recall an internship that made a significant impact on their lives. Related: How To Turn Your Internship Into Full-Time Employment That’s all well and good, but what is the real trick to making sure your internship doesn’t turn into the “making coffee and running copies” dreaded drudgery? The truth is that what your internships turns into rests on you. But there is a real secret to making these internships truly meaningful. You can make out of it as much or as little as you would like. Go-getters go into internship experiences with high expectations; more importantly, they have a plan. It’s just not enough to suddenly be granted the privilege to walk through the vaunted doors of the company… you need to help define and shape your experience so that you walk out of there benefiting from it just as much as your internship sponsor. So, what does it take to have a successful plan? How do you communicate it to your supervisor?
The most gut-wrenching words you never want to hear that seem like the end of the world: "You're fired," or "We are going to have to let you go." Related: How To Answer, ‘Have You Ever Been Fired?’ Terminations happen - whether they are your fault or because someone decided to eliminate you for their own personal ambition/agenda reasons. But the end result is the same: Being fired from a job can taint your future prospects. The biggest worry most job seekers looking for work who have been terminated is whether someone else will give you a chance. But before you even get to the interview, you need to have an attitude adjustment about what that termination means. You need to seize control of it, and own it. Don't let it own you. Fear will rule your life... if you let it. Here are some tips to help you get past this difficult time in your career and overcome the pain of a termination: