YOUR INTRODUCTION, ELEVATOR SPEECH, AND ORIGIN STORY: FACE TO FACE NETWORKING TIPS
by Ellen Mehling, Career Development Consultant, METRO
It is well-known that networking is vital to a successful job search and a thriving career. LinkedIn has made it easy to connect with a large number of people, but in-person interactions should not be neglected and should be conducted with thought and care. Those who have met you in person and who really know you and have worked with you in some way are going to be the most beneficial to you. These are the people who will refer, recommend, or even hire you. These first words and conversations with other professionals can make or break your opportunity for further contact.
You will be remembered by the manner in which you introduce yourself, so choose those first words deliberately. Sometimes just your name, title, and workplace will suffice. And sometimes just your name and a general descriptive title (even just “librarian”) is appropriate, depending on the person or audience you are introducing yourself to.
In some cases, a few words describing what you do will be needed. If, for example, your title doesn’t make your job responsibilities clear or if there is a certain skill you want to be sure the person you are talking to knows about you, be sure to mention that too. If you are a student, give the name of the school and your degree-in-progress, with the possible addition of the kind of information work you hope to do following graduation.
It is best not to introduce yourself by saying you are unemployed or job hunting. I have heard many info pros begin their introduction with something like, “I was laid off two years ago…” We all have setbacks in our careers. By introducing yourself with a past setback you are telling other people that this one-time event, which may have occurred some time ago, has defined you in a permanent way. This encourages others to think of you as unemployed and that is not likely to lead to new opportunities. I would also avoid the phrase “in transition” as it has come to mean “long-term unemployed”.
Lead with your strengths; introduce yourself in the present tense, (“I am…” rather than “I was…”) and have some project or part-time job or volunteering or internship or blog or research or service in a professional organization that you can talk about later in the conversation. Keep your introduction to one or two sentences. After that, *listen* to the other person’s self-introduction and ask a follow-up question or two, to get things started. Read more…
The Workplaces of Tomorrow Are Winning Today
By Frank Wander
Corporate America is slowly being reinvented. Winning companies understand they must unlock the full talent potential of their workforce in order to efficiently turn ideas—this era’s most important raw material—into products. They innovate to win; they are nimble, because people are encouraged to think and given the freedom to do so; these companies know professionals are assets, not expenses, and therefore seek out the best and embrace and nurture them; lastly, they are not burdened by an accumulation of legacy systems and legacy thinking, the last being the largest hindrance. Getting the human factors right will be what differentiates the workplaces of tomorrow, a pattern that is increasingly visible in today’s best companies.
In contrast, traditional corporations struggle to innovate as they are weighed down by legacy infrastructures, outmoded people practices, and dependent on financial innovation to boost their balance sheets and earnings per share. Although their quarterly results may please Wall Street, they mask a worrisome reality: The world of work has changed. With 70 percent of American workers disengaged, per Gallup, pressure is building for a giant shift toward improving and nurturing the human side of business. As this shift occurs, traditional hierarchical management structures will slowly loosen their grip, relinquishing more power and control to the knowledge workers, the “machines” that power the innovation economy forward. The companies that fail to embrace this change will die untransformed, eaten alive by high fixed costs, a continual brain drain and unproductive management practices.
In the best workplaces, high-performing cultures and human understanding are the engines of workforce productivity. Unfortunately, the leadership skills to leverage these talent management practices are too often in short supply. Corporate leaders know a great deal about their processes, technology, marketing, sales, finance and product development, yet they know almost nothing about their organization’s primary source of competitive advantage: their employees.
Traditional corporations remain steeped in the mindset of the industrial era where employees are expenses—and are treated by management as little more than interchangeable parts. Such organizations are blind to the re-humanization of work that is transforming the competitive landscape, so they seek outside advice on how to improve workforce productivity and unleash innovation. The correct answer: “Look inward. Your people are your factory. Learn to free the large, untapped pools of talent potential you are already paying for, and innovation will begin to flow.”
Today’s winning companies understand this simple truth. They have relied on informed people practices from their founding, and view the workforce as mostly assets, not expenses. These companies are repeatedly cited amongst the best places to work; they have track records of success built on innovation and employ a workforce that possesses the ability to flex and change with the market. Also, they invest time to find and hire individuals who are a cultural fit, then nurture, grow and retain them.
Understanding the human factors that unlock workforce productivity and innovation has become an undeniable source of competitive advantage. As Irish author and philosopher Charles Handy has said, “Karl Marx would be amused. He longed for the day when the workers would own the means of production. Now they do.” Read more…