Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tip Thursday - Presentations

In business meetings we are often called upon unexpectedly, requiring us to 'think on our feet' and organize our thoughts quickly.  We want to sound articulate, knowledgeable and confident. The best way to handle Impromptu Presentations is to gather our thoughts using a Model of 3.  Here's a couple to give you a framework of what I mean...

  1. Past, Present, Future  (In the past we...  While right now we...  In the future we... )
  2. Cause, Impact, Solution  (What's causing X is...  The impact of X is...  The answer is... )
  3. Pros, Cons, Position  (What are the pros of the situation, what are the cons, what is your position?)
  4. Problem, Action, Results  (What was the problem, what were the actions taken, what were the results achieved?)

Each of these models offers you a unique way to organize your statements, helping you to sound on top of everything you're sharing!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Who's Your Target Audience?

We can easily get caught up in trying to be and deliver too many things to too many people. When looking to build our success it is far too easy to fall into the belief that the more people we please the greater our success will be.  However, it can quickly become overwhelming, and clearly impossible, to please everyone.  So where should you focus?

Your family and friends will always have input.
Your boss will certainly highlight their needs.
Your co-workers will offer their own take about what they want.
Your clients and customers have yet another perspective.

When you are just starting to build your career or new business it can become difficult to direct your energies to those activities that will best serve to propel you forward.  You have limited and finite resources.  You clearly can`t create a product that suits everyone`s needs, can`t deliver a speech that resonates fully with everyone, can`t complete a project in a way that satisfies all.  How do you decide what to do, what to say, what to deliver, what to offer?

Consider using the 2 Review process (with thanks to Seth Godin for this) to serve as your litmus test. When you look at the speech you intend to deliver, the business services you are offering, the project you're initiating, write two reviews for it; a five star and a one star review.

  • 5 Star Review.  Write a review from the perspective of someone who was blown away by what you did and delivered.  This is a review from someone who totally gets what you're doing and loves it.  They admire your ambition, your drive, your vision, your message.
  • 1 Star Review.  Then write a review from the perspective of someone who hates your message, who is critical of the work you are doing and the direction you are taking.
Now consider... who are you investing your time in pleasing?  Is your focus aimed at turning the naysayers into advocates or are you focusing on strengthening the deliverables to those who are championing you?

Regardless of whether you are just starting your career or business or have the launch of both well behind you, playing to those who love you will always prove to boost your success more than will trying to convert others to your cause.  

Becoming clear about what people love, whether about you or your product, and giving them more of it is the secret sauce to success.  There is a reason that corporations invest millions of dollars in consumer research... the need to continue to satisfy their customers.  You are no different.

The time that you spend in trying to minimize the negative feedback and criticism, to convert the naysayers, is time away from satisfying those that are ready to buy - you and your services. Typically, the greater your success the greater the number of critics you will have.
If you have no critics you'll likely have no success.    Malcolm X
All of the 'greats' in their field have clarity over their vision, and hold true to what their customers, not their critics, value and want from them.  Sure, it's hard not to take it personally at times, but recognise the source.  Typically, those that are critical of you, your message and your actions, are those who are not taking the steps that you are.  Their attempts to hold you back are more indicative of their insecurities than they are reflective of you.

Your goal should be to create with the goal of receiving more 5 Star Reviews and not with the intention of trying to avoid the 1 Stars.  Often, the best sign that you are 'making it' is that there are people who are ticked off by that very fact.  The best way to deal with these folks is, of course, to follow Taylor Swift's advice and 'Shake it Off!'

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tip Thursday - Presentations

In business meetings we are often called upon unexpectedly, requiring us to 'think on our feet' and organize our thoughts quickly.  We want to sound articulate, knowledgeable and confident. The best was to handle Impromptu Presentations is to gather our thoughts using a Model of 3. Here's a couple to give you a framework of what I mean...

1.  Past, Present, Future  (In the past we... While right now we... In the future we...)
2.  Cause, Impact, Solution  (What's causing X is... The Impact of X is... The answer is...)
3.  Pros, Cons, Position  (What are the pros of the situation, what are the cons, what is your position?)
4.  Problem, Action, Results (What was the problem, what were the actions taken, what were the results achieved?)

Each of these models offers you a unique was to organize your statements, helping you to sound on top of everything you're sharing!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Making Friends to Build your Network

If I asked you what the ultimate goal of Networking is, what would you say?

The most common response I get is that Networking is all about making contacts. However, this quickly becomes a far too narrow expectation.  Consider what your ultimate hope and expectation is of those connections. Are you looking for those connections to offer you their knowledge and expertise?  Are you looking for them to 'buy' your products or services?  Are you looking for them to refer you to their contacts and connections?  If your answer is yes, then you must consider the need to make them more than merely a 'contact', they need to become a 'friend'.

Certainly they don't need to become your best friend or godparent to your children, but they do need to become someone with more of a connection to you than just a card in their pocket.  Building an effective network is about more than extending your business card collection, it is about establishing a network of individuals that have a solid base and connection to you.  The true magic is that you can build these connections through your networking events, you just have to understand what you are looking to build, and how to do it.

Business card collectors have a tendency to attend different networking events constantly, parachuting in, working the crowd and then heading on to the next event.  They rarely or infrequently attend the same event twice.  Certainly, attending different events in the beginning is a smart way to identify which are the 'right' events for you. Whether looking to identify potential customers or to extend your network of contacts in your specific field, you need to find out which events they typically go to.  This might take a little trial and error to start but, once you've found the right events for you and your needs, you keep going.

According to Jack Schafer, in his book The Like Switch, there is a very definitive Friendship Formula, one which the FBI perfected as a means of recruiting spies.  Yes, cool foundation, but the point is that it will work for your purposes also.  There are four basic building blocks to the formula:
Friendship = Proximity + Frequency + Duration + Intensity
Proximity - is the distance between you and the other party, your exposure to them over time.  This means that there is a strong benefit to being seen at a specific networking event consistently each month.  Sharing the same physical space with someone else makes you more attractive to them, establishing a connection based on commonality.

Frequency - is the number of contacts you have with someone over time.  Popping into a networking event, never to show again, is all about you.  Attending the same event consistently establishes a commitment to forming 'real' connections that will resonate with those looking to do the same. Simply 'seeing' you at the event each month breeds familiarity and helps to establish trust, even if they haven't had the opportunity to speak with you yet.

Duration - is the length of time spent with someone over time.  We typically spend more time with people we like and engaged in activities we enjoy.  Therefore, the more time that someone spends with you, the greater the bond that is established. This is not just measured by the minutes you are in direct conversation.  Shared experiences count. Therefore, simply seeing your face a number of times over the course of an evening registers as a 'period' of time you have invested similarly and helps to build that sense of familiarity.

Intensity - refers to how strongly you are able to satisfy another person's needs (psychological or physical) through your verbal or nonverbal behaviours.  Those who attend a networking event solely to pass out their cards are not focused on meeting the needs of others, they are focused on having their needs met.  Although offering your services to help alleviate someone else's pain point is a desirable way to satisfy someone's needs, recognise that you typically should look to build to this by subtly satisfying other needs first, in smaller less direct ways.  Providing them with an introduction to someone else that could be of service to them, or that may prove to be a valuable connection for them is one such way.  However, simply smiling across the room at someone who looks disconnected or uncomfortable can work to establish a sense of connection and gratitude that begins the formation of a relationship even before being introduced. By satisfying non-work related needs first you help to create the belief that you are more likely to satisfy their work needs too.

Strong networks are not determined by the number of contacts you have, but by the quality of the relationship.  Learning to 'make new friends' may prove to be one of the best lessons we can bring forward from the playgrounds of our childhood to help us be successful in our business careers.  As with all things though, there is a science to it that can help those of us that are a little less naturally extroverted to create the business relationships that will serve us in building our businesses and careers.

For those that would like to delve a little deeper into how the FBI has used this formula to build their network of spies, I offer the link to the book below.  Quite honestly, it is a fascinating read on its own as the author offers up examples of how they used the various steps and principles.  However, on a lesser scale, it also has strong business applications for you.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tip Thursday - Influence of Expectation

Many of us may spend time 'hoping' for good things to happen, but it is the people that actually
'expect' good things that will experience them more. Why?  Because our expectations will often influence the outcome.  Generally, our expectations (what we truly believe will happen) will unconsciously influence our behaviour which will, in turn, influence the behaviours of others around us, thus creating the experience we 'expected'.  Research has shown that teachers who were 'told' which students were high IQ or low IQ inadvertently influenced the students to perform according to their expectations, even when what they were originally told about the students was untrue. The students began to behave and perform according to the beliefs and expectations of the teacher. Think about this in relation to your life and career. What are you Expecting and what are you Getting? Maybe not what you want, but likely what you expect.  Change your expectations and you'll change your outcomes!   (and...  to be kept in the loop with other great tips... LIKE our page!  I expect you will!)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Tip Thursday - Habits

We often have the best of intentions for creating new, positive behaviours but struggle to maintain them. One of the best ways to ensure that your new, desired behaviours get locked into habit is to set up defined 'Triggers' that help you to action that behaviour at specific times. These triggers serve as reminders that help you to activate the behaviour. Maybe you want to remember to check your schedule each morning before leaving for the office so you don't overlook meetings by being pulled off track by someone else's crisis the moment you step in the door - trigger your reminder to check by leaving your scheduler by the coffeemaker. When you go to grab your morning coffee... check the schedule. Want to learn to breathe more deeply each day? Set up some electronic reminders on your phone. When you hear the ping it's your signal to take 3-5 breaths from the diaphragm. Your triggers are most effective when they are attached to a habit that you already 'do' consistently (like having a coffee in the morning). Since this is a behaviour that is already habit your new behaviour becomes linked and anchored to this existing behaviour, helping to shift it into habit... faster!

Monday, October 5, 2015

So You Want a Promotion?

The move upwards within a corporation can often prove a very frustrating experience.  Given that many organizations have downsized, flattening their organizational tiers, there are often fewer opportunities available and therefore increased competition for the few positions that do open up. Additionally, there seems to also be a sense of entitlement amongst workers, the belief that 'time' somehow adds to your qualifications for advancement.

You know the kind of 'time' I'm referring to here, the thought that the length of time you have remained at a company deserves additional rewards and possibly promotion. Let me state categorically here though...  it does not.  Nor should it.  Merely showing up is not enough to recommend you for 'more'.  In fact, fulfilling your current role and meeting your boss's expectations is the price of entry for promotion, it is the minimum of what you need to be doing to secure a promotion.

In all instances, those that are serious about wanting a promotion need to step up and go beyond the day-to-day requirements of their role, demonstrating not only that they are capable of more, but that they are actively seeking it out.  If you want to take on more of a Leadership role, you need to be prepared to start demonstrating your ability to Lead... now.

The following are my top 10 Tips to help you stand out from the crowd and demonstrate that you are ready for that next promotion.

  1. Know your Job.  You have to be good at what you are currently doing if you want to be seriously considered for doing more.  Demonstrate that you have a solid understanding of your current responsibilities, show you are dependable and capable.  This is your foundation.  If you aren't doing this then don't worry about the rest of the list until you have mastered your current role.  
  2. Know the Business.  Make a study of the company.  Know everything you can about the industry, competitors and market.  Go beyond your little corner and expand your understanding of the business you are in.  The more you know, the more you will understand and the greater the potential value you have to add.  
  3. Be Creative.  Use your understanding above to help you come up with ideas to bring forward. What ideas do you have that would add value to your Department, that would help your group add value to the organization? Helping your group succeed provides the foundation for being seen as someone that will help the organization as a whole be more successful.
  4. Network within the company.  Don't just get to know those within your department.  Venture out and form connections across divisions and roles.  Build relationships as your build your reputation. Build your network of champions and cheerleaders that will help to sell you into your next opportunity.
  5. Offer Solutions.  Don't just raise issues.  If you are bringing a problem forward then ensure that you are also offering a suggested solution. Bosses are responsible for solving issues.  If you want to be seen as a potential boss then show you are capable of thinking and taking action like one.  Shifting into problem solving mode rather than problem-raising mode immediately helps to shift the way that others perceive you.
  6. Be Drama Free.  Demonstrate your ability to stay calm under pressure and in times of crisis. Management is looking for cooler heads to prevail during times of stress.  How you handle your small day to day crisis sets the tone for how they will view your ability to handle the 'tougher' issues down the road.  As a boss you will be called upon to defuse the 'drama'.  Hard to do if you are its source.
  7. Develop Yourself.  Identify what skills you lack and find ways to develop and improve them. Take the initiative on your own, whether through a course of study, volunteering for specific project teams or taking on a project of your own.  Don't sit back lamenting the lack of career development support, do what you need to help yourself succeed. 
  8. Challenge Current Thinking.  No, this does not mean argue continuously.  But, if you don't think a current course of action is the best alternative then share your well-thought-out opposing view.  Provide your reasons and supporting data. If you want to be seen as a leader, then it is important you demonstrate your thinking as a leader, which requires you to have thoughts and ideas of your own. You have to be prepared to speak up occasionally in order to get noticed.   
  9. Don't Complain.  In some respects this speaks to point number 5.  Complaining is merely a critical way of raising issues.  You are focusing on what isn't working, what you don't like, and what is broken rather than focusing on fixes for them.  More importantly though, complaining has a powerless component to it which works in complete opposition to how you want to be seen. Sounding powerless will never net you more power.  
  10. Ask how you can help.  Don't wait to be told what to do, seek things out.  See what needs to be done and just do it, or ask what else needs to be done.  Don't wait to be caught doing nothing before taking on an additional task.  Seek out your boss and see what else you can be doing to be of service to them.  
Promotions don't occur by happenstance, and they don't go to those that simply show up.  They do go to those that demonstrate a readiness for them.  The 10 tips above will help you to not just appear ready, but to 'be' ready. A final note though... if you caught yourself thinking that you're not going to do any of the above tips because you're not paid to do 'em... you're not ready for promotion.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Tip Thursday - Change

Typically we introduce change into our lives one small little step or nugget at a time. Incremental change can result in huge gains over time. However, there are times in which we experience an overnight and seemingly radical change in behaviour, often generated by the Lightning Bolt of insight. This occurs when one single idea seems to click and take root, changing the habits of a lifetime. Instead of incremental change we experience radical change. It is next to impossible to create the lightning bolt, but it carries a powerful message for us.  For it to be a harbinger of change we have to be open to the messages the lightning bolt brings with it, rather than resistant. Your lightening bolt can come disguised as a book, an illness or disease, a sudden change in a job, a relationship beginning or ending, a death, a birth... Instantaneous and life-altering potential.