Thumbs Up

I frequently share a Youtube video of a young child who just mastered riding a bike.  His father encourages him to inspire other students.  The child explains in plain terms his feeling of pride.

When we celebrate an accomplishment, we generate great positive energy.  It’s a shame when we miss this opportunities to share this feeling with others.  The immediate benefit is the praise and honoring of the person/team who hit their goal but let’s look deeper.

We spend a lot of time in our world identifying ‘areas for improvement’ or providing ‘constructive criticism’ but we don’t always balance with praise and gratitude for a job well done.  When I send a thank you note or express in-person my appreciation, I am given the opportunity to connect with my personal values.   In a way, I get to be part of the cheering section to empower that person.  But I am also able to assess how I can become a better contributor, parent or employee.

Recently a friend organized a surprise party for his son to celebrate his commissioning as an officer.   Each person invited was made to feel they were selected for our role in his military journey.  We were challenged to keep supporting James.  Lt. Col. Phillips practiced his leadership by acknowledging James’ hard work and dedication at this casual ceremony.  Honestly, James’ father was having a blast, too.

Tribute, inspiration, gratitude can be expressed in small ways or by cutting a cake with a ceremonial sword but should be done frequently.

Please share a way you have celebrated others but also tell me what you took away from the experience.  I am betting it made you feel good, too.

Can we meet for coffee?

A good cup of coffee and a great visit with a friend is the perfect combo for connection.  Nearly two hours later, my friend and I covered most every topic relevant to us right now.  But surely the best part of the morning was finding how we are currently sharing a career journey.

I used “so, what’s your story these days” to open the conversation and we just never stopped.  Jen is an experienced ‘connector’ and even told me she feels she can find commonality with most anyone.  So, it is no wonder we were able to visit for so long (you don’t have to though).   Soon, Jen was helping me dig deep into what my aspirations are and how she can help.

There are times when a visit does have an underlying purpose of networking but this one was purely social.  The result was a delightful morning, attention to a relationship and a possible career path.

This chat is an important lesson on how a conversation can lead benefit your job search and your personal community.   Unlike a neighborhood picnic, our meeting was intentional.  I cannot remember who invited whom but the act of invitation made the visit special.

Why not ask someone to coffee this week?  And push yourself to make that date with a 2nd or 3rd tier contact.  Then let me know how it goes.  Cheers!

 

–Special thanks to Water Street Coffee Joint for hosting us on their patio and to Jen Agay for the visit!

Good morning or morning?

I once worked in an office with a very stoic culture.  There was one other person who would say ‘good morning’ to me.  But usually, I was the one wishing my colleagues a good start of the day.

Does it matter if we greet one another?   Isn’t it fake if I am not having a good morning to say it?

I say: yes! it matters .  You will now spend the next several hours interacting at work – why wouldn’t you want to start the day collaborating?

Lindsay Dodson for Business Insider recently shared insight on this very topic.  We can reap subtle benefits from a daily act as well influence your office culture.  Acknowledging another human being is one way to let people know you value them.

https://www.businessinsider.com/greeting-coworkers-in-the-morning-2017-4

Back to the sincerity question, yeah it’s okay to have a bad day.   But if each and every morning is bad, maybe it’s time to evaluate your environment.   And, I challenge you to be a catalyst of change.  Start the day with a positive thought – and make it a good one.

With a little help from my friends…

I once worked for six months in a small office with another woman.  She once told me I reminded her of Rogelio on Jane the Virgin.  Everyone is Rogelio’s best friend.  It’s true, I am a bit like a beagle, as soon as I meet you I consider you my friend.

As a new sales professional, I am leaning on every tool and trick to connect with decision-makers.  I am so very thankful for my newest friends who I’ve met through networking.

The routine nature of networking events and coffee meetings is perfect for making new friends.  (Given my judicious use of the word ‘friend’ you can call them contacts.)  Even though you may never invite these people to your home, a good network contact will help you ….. and you’d be surprised how you can help them.  So let’s go for it!

Your first function might feel like a blind date.  But don’t worry, everyone is there for the same reason.  There is no need to be embarrassed.  And there will be times where you will run into the same people and that’s okay, too.  You are building a relationship with that person as well.

After the function, send a follow-up note to those you met.  Make your note sound personal and not a form letter.  Trust me, the reader knows if you are sending mass e-mails.  Your message can be simple but sincere.  No one is annoyed with a simple “Thank you for visiting with me at ______, I enjoyed meeting you.”

Give it a try and let me know how it works.

Elevator Speech

Hey friends and followers!  I am sharing with you an article I just read about crafting (and practicing) a good elevator speech.

I completely agree with the writer and encourage you to not use a bunch of 10-cent words to sound impressive.  Plain-speak is always the way to go.  And I am a big fan of analogies.  Why not try finding an analogy that defines your work style?

So, my elevator speech might sound like this:

“I am a connector, a human extension cord.   I find ways to bring together people, organizations and businesses together to solve a problem.  I use marketing, communication, relationship and humor to do my work.”

https://www.fastcompany.com/90205053/how-to-create-an-elevator-pitch-that-doesnt-sound-cheesy

Listening versus Hearing

In the Quentin Tartantino film “Pulp Fiction” there is a piece of dialogue that has always resonated for me.

Jules (Samuel L. Jackson):  “In conversation, do you listen or wait to talk?”

Vincent (John Travolta) : “I have to admit that I wait to talk, but I’m trying harder to listen.”

As a communicator, I am certain 80% of my messages are heard but not absorbed.  The recipient needs to be engaged, ready to listen for the message to stick.  Sometimes, people are ready to receive your message.

I’ve been spending more time learning about listening.  We need several senses working together to really listen.  Body language, tone of voice or inflection, readiness/timing and the kind of words being used are all part of communication.

I am not a hater of technology.  You won’t hear me say ‘we’ve lost our ability to effectively communicate’ due to email, texting and social media.  In fact, I think we are communicating more than ever.  However, since so much more information is passed directionally and not face-to-face, we need to work harder to listen.

I’m trying harder to pause before replying to some messages, pause before selecting like or commenting on a post.  In that moment, I am thinking about the context and timing.  I try to use clues like noticing when the message was sent and whether it was created by the individual or just shared.

As someone who always has something to say, I know I will be a better connector if I listen more.

How do you listen?  Please send me your story of a time you waited to talk and heard something important!

 

“Tell me your story…”

When I had joined a new organization, a colleague asked me  “So, Sarah, tell me your story.”

I have shamelessly used this line when I am meeting new people to engage them to talk.  It is phrased as a command but the person asking the question is showing interest in you.  Most everyone enjoys sincere attention.

It was one of the kindest ‘questions’ ever.

What if the person replies with “I don’t have a story” or “I don’t know what you mean”?  Then, it’s time to use a prompting question.  But ask something that is pretty common and something you might be able to have in common.  How about:

  • “Where did you go to elementary school and what was your favorite lunch food?”  Yeah.  This is information never listed on a resume.
  • Or even “what was your favorite cartoon as a child” can start quite a dialogue.

Everyone’s story starts somewhere, when trying to meet someone new, why not ask about their’s?

lunch box

Dedicated to Jessica Barboline for asking for my story!