Getting what you want out of life isn’t always easy. You can spend weeks, months or even years working on your goals. That’s a lot of effort and planning just to get from point A to point B. Worse still are the people who do nothing but wait around hoping that what they want will just appear in front of them.
There’s a better way to get what you want, just ask for it. The old adage that the fastest route between two points is a straight line applies here. Asking for what you want is easier and works faster than any plan you could come up with.
My Story of Asking for What I Want
Sometimes asking for what you want can really surprise you. After I graduated college, I got a full time job and began my career. About a year into the job I had an opportunity to travel through Southeast Asia. This travel was not for work, it would have been a personal trip for 30 days! I was in a bind. Traveling through Asia had always been a dream of mine. However, I knew I couldn’t just quit the job I tried so hard to obtain.
I tried to think through my situation. I realize that most jobs in America only allow two weeks of vacation per year. In fact, I don’t think I had seen anyone where I worked take any time off whatsoever. But I wanted both a job and travel so I racked my brain figuring out a plan to make it work. I realized I had only one option: to ask for what I want.
I had no doubt in my mind that I would get a “no”. No one expects their employer to allow that much time off just to travel. But to my surprise, I got the OK. The only stipulation was that I would be put into a different position when I got back. I was completely satisfied with the arrangement. A few months later, I was in a plane half way over the Pacific on my way to Thailand. And the best part was, I felt reassured that I had a position when I got back.
The biggest reason most people don’t try asking for what they want is fear. They fear rejection or they fear that they’ll ask in the wrong way or say something stupid. Asking someone for something you want can be a scary thing to do, but it’s a lot better than waiting for it to just happen. And with a few tips, you can make your experience a lot better.
Here are a handful of things I did to help get the response I was looking for.
There’s something about combining confidence with control that gets attention. People really respond positively to it. You’re probably going to be nervous asking, but that’s normal. Relax as best as you can and be confident. If you ask in an assertive, polite way, you’re more likely to get what you want.
Know what you want
The more specific a request you make, the easier it will be for both you and the person you’re asking. If you appear indecisive and unsure in what you want, your request will come off as weak. Part of success in asking for what you want is showing the person how much you really want it. Show this by being specific in what you want. Plus, being specific is just polite to the person you’re asking in case they have to work around your request.
Being specific in what you want is important, but so is being flexible. When I asked for my time off to travel, I had to accept the different position when I came back. If I had been rigid in my demands, I wouldn’t have succeeded. It wasn’t ideal for me, but it was acceptable in order to get what I wanted. If you’re prepared to compromise, you’ll succeed too.
Be prepared for a “no”
Asking for what you want isn’t a silver bullet for success. Oftentimes, you’ll receive a “no” and you have to be prepared for that. Years after my travels through Southeast Asia, I thought I would ask for similar time off from a new employer. I asked for a month off to travel and got a “no”. However, they did spend several days in consideration so I think it was pretty close to being accepted. I had to settle for a regular two week trip instead. I didn’t get what I wanted, but nothing bad happened to me by asking.
People want to help youRemember, if you don’t ask you won’t receive.
Before you ask for what you want, realize that people want to help you. It is rare for someone to respond negatively to a well-thought out polite request. Most people get a good feeling by helping another person out. Plus, they’ll probably remember a time when they were in a similar position. If you keep this in mind, you’ll be more confident. And that will get you one step closer to getting that “yes”.
Written on 1/13/2011 by Steve Bloom. Photo Credit: danielle_blue
Note: This is a guest post from Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology
Quitting has gotten a really bad rap. The Internet (and life in general) are filled with rhetoric about how bad it is to give up on something. Truth is, giving up on the wrong things is just as important as committing to the right ones. Being able to see the difference and cutting those bad pieces out of your life can help you recover a significant amount of time and energy to pour into the good parts.
The best part? Deciphering between the two is actually really easy. If something you’ve committed to is making you unhappy and you can’t objectively see it making you happy in the future, then it’s toxic for you and you ought to quit. Your gut feeling is more valuable than most think.
Actually quitting, though, is hard and awkward. Luckily, when you decide to quit something that’s wrong for you, there are a few things you can do to be sure you actually go through with it and even get something valuable out of the process.
Here’s a four-step guide to being an awesome quitter:
1. Commit to quitting
This is the first and most important part of the whole process. We all know the danger of “half-assing it” when we’ve committed to something, but it’s an even bigger problem when you’re trying to quit something.
This usually happens because you feel bad about giving up on something you think is important to you, but only half-quitting will drag you even further down.
Make the decision to quit and stick to it. Do your thinking ahead of time and commit to it. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in a self-made purgatory where something that was taking up your time and not getting you anywhere is still not getting you anywhere and still taking up your time.
The idea is to completely free yourself so that you can focus all your attention on starting something new.
2. Tie up loose ends
Of course, in order to be completely free of commitments, you’ll probably have to do a little bit of extra work to be rid of them. Don’t be afraid of that; you’ve made your decision and hopefully based it on sound reasoning. Now, you want to quickly take care of any loose ends that need to be addressed before shelving the whole project.
Look for the things that could come back to bite you if you set them aside half finished. This doesn’t mean you have to finish them. Instead, get creative about how to find an early ending point.
Remember, you’re performing triage here. If it’s not vital, stop doing it immediately. If it is vital and needs to be addressed, take care of it as quickly and efficiently as possible. No need to go for perfect anymore as done will do.
This is the stage where it’s easy to get sucked back into the project. Tread lightly and remember why you’re quitting.
3. Inform all affected parties
This is where things get a little uncomfortable and a little bit messy at times, but doing it right can be the difference between success and failure on the next thing.
Take the time to get in touch with everyone that’s impacted by your decision to quit. Be gracious and talk to people honestly and authentically. This could be team members, superiors, customers, outside stakeholders, and anyone else that has to change something they’re doing as a result.
Be firm with your decision and don’t allow yourself to be sucked back in. Guilt can play a prime role in this stage, but remember that you’re making the best decision for yourself and everyone else.
If you do this right, you can actually build your reputation by showing your good judgment and ensure plenty of support the next time you commit to something.
4. Evaluate and reflect
Once you’ve finally broken free from a toxic commitment, the last thing you want to do is tie yourself to another one with the same fatal flaws.
Take enough time to really look at all the factors that went into your decision to quit and turn them into concrete warning signs that you can use in the future to evaluate new projects and commitments.
Before you jump into the next big thing, go down your list and look for those warning signs in all the nooks and crannies. Don’t be surprised if you find some. Anything you do that’s important will come with some unknowns, but make sure that you can address them objectively.
The point is to be able to say to yourself, “I saw this problem, and here’s the plan I have to deal with it.”
No matter what it is, quitting is never easy, but it’s a lot more important than it gets credit for. Everyone gets trapped by something they shouldn’t be doing once in awhile. If you stay levelheaded and quit strategically, you can quickly be on your way to doing things that really matter to you.
Photo by movitz
It’s December again and the year is coming to an end! How do you feel? Excited? Eager to see what’s in store for the new year?
For myself personally, I love Decembers because it’s the time when I take a breather, look back and see how the year has been. I just did my year end review yesterday, and I’m extremely excited to get started on year 2011. In this article, I’ll share with you 7 powerful questions to ask yourself as you close off your year. I recommend you to allocate at least 30 minutes with yourself and use that time to earnestly answer these questions. This will be one of the most important exercises you’ve ever done. Here they are:
On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with 2010?
This gives you a quick snapshot of how satisfied you are with this year. 10 is the highest, and 0 is the lowest. Interestingly, this number can give you a lot of insights.
Why did you score that way?
For the score you gave yourself in Q1, why did you assign that? I believe it’s more important to understand the underlying drivers of the situation, rather than harp on the assessment itself. For example, if you gave yourself a score of 3/10, why did you give a 3? Is it because you feel that you neglected your relationships and health in pursuit of your work? Is it because you didn’t go all the way in achieving your goals? Write them down.
What are your biggest accomplishments this year?
Accomplishments here refer to any results you are proud of. It can include business achievements, career, relationships, health & fitness, and more.
For some people this question can be confronting, especially if they have been living on auto-pilot. Yet it’s extremely important because it makes us take a cold, hard look at how we’ve been spending our time. Did we put it to good use? Have we been working on our Quadrant 2 tasks? It helps us sieve out the unimportant and zoom down to what matters.
When I first asked myself this question years ago, I had trouble coming up with meaningful answers. It made me realize that the bulk of my achievements that year were for my employer, whereas I had done nothing for myself. It gave me a wake up call, and from there I became a person on a mission. I became in tune with my personal dreams in life, and I was singly focused on bringing them to life. I knew in my heart of hearts that I want to help others grow and be their best selves, so I worked in that direction. In less than a year I had shed away my previous job and was pursuing my dream. By the next year, I had already turned it into a real, full time career. This year is my 2nd year and it’s my best performing year yet. This happened because this question made me conscious of what I wanted to achieve in my life.
What are the biggest lessons you learned this year?
Out of all the things that happened this year, what are the biggest things you’ve learned?
In life, we have countless experiences, and there are things to be learned in every experience. We can either let these incidences pass us by, or we can stop to understand, internalize them, and draw lessons from these experiences. When we do that, we literally become wiser than we were before. We can then use these important lessons and apply them to new situations we face.
Since 2006, I took to the habit of writing annual reflections. Writing them down helps us to stack our lessons through time, so we can build upon our wisdom, rather than relearn the same things. This way, we can advance our growth much faster.
What are your biggest goals that you want to achieve next year?
* “How can you make next year your best year ever?”
* “If it’s now Dec 31 of next year, what do you want to see in your life?” Then, set these as your goals.
What does it take to make you feel a 10/10 satisfaction level at the end of next year? What goals do you want to have achieved? What dreams do you want to see fulfilled? Write these goals down and set them as your key goals for the next year.
What new habits do you want to cultivate?
Successful goal achievement come from having the right habits. What new habits do you want to cultivate? The most popular ones for me every new year include meditating, exercising, waking early, sleeping early, drinking plenty of water a day and more. When you practice positive habits, you naturally become a better person.
What are your immediate next steps to achieve them?Here’s an important tip - get started right away. Get a head start even and do them before the new year comes! You’ll feel ahead of everyone. I’m now already planning out my February-March plans for my blog and it feels great knowing what’s ahead! Do that for your life and you’ll immediately see the positive difference it brings.
It’s not just about writing, but about doing. Now that you have written your intentions for the new year, what are the immediate next steps you’ve to take to achieve them? What do you have to do to get the ball rolling? Write down specific dates to the actions.
Share Your Reflections!
How are your year end reflections? How do you feel about this year? Why? What have you learned? What are your biggest goals for the next year? Share with everyone here in the comments.
Meetings are one of the #1 time wasters in the workplace.
Too often employees are locked in meeting rooms instead of allowed to get their job done.
They take up too much time. Cost too much money. Kill too much of employees’ morale. And result in too much loss of productivity.
Most companies would be better off with less meetings.
In fact, less meetings. Less time for meetings. Less people in meetings. And so on…
Does your workplace need “less of” meetings?
The Cost of Meetings
In today’s workplace, meetings are often used instead of doing work.
In fact, when dealing with ineffective teams, I often see them calling meetings instead of doing their work.
However, the cost of meetings goes beyond impacting simple workplace productivity.
Meetings cost your company is many areas:
- Money – Think meetings are free? Locking those 10 senior managers in a room for 3 hours just cost thousands of dollars. Was the work accomplished worth that price?
- Time – Managers think they are only calling a 1 hour meeting. But with 10 people in the room, it just cost 10 hours of work productivity. Probably more when you consider the interruption to the workday.
- Morale – Nothing sucks the life out of workers quicker than long, agenda less, expanding-to-fit-the-scheduled-time meetings. If you want to kill your team’s morale, long meetings are a good place to start.
Put Your Meetings on a Diet
The first thing that I recommend to companies that are suffering from too many meetings is to put their meetings on a diet.
They need “Less Of” Meetings. Cutting back can show immediate, tangible increases in team productivity.
Get your meetings out of your team’s way and they will often surprise you.
Here are “10 Ways to Put Your Meetings on a Diet”
- Less Meetings – Simply, hold fewer meetings. Cancel them. Let your people work instead of locking them in a room. Go through your calendar and eliminate any unnecessary or duplicate meetings. A good sign that meeting is not necessary is that it repeats every week no matter what is happening in your business.
- Less Lateness – Most meetings in the workplace start late. This means that they last longer than they need to. Start on time. End early or at least on time. Make it a hard a fast rule. Exclude those who are late.
- Less Required – If you must have meetings, do not make them required. Give your employees the “Right to Decline.” You will quickly find out which meetings are important and which employees should be there.
- Less Time – Keep meetings short. Try 30 minute meetings. No meetings over an hour. In fact, try cutting your meetings in half.
- Less People – Bring the minimum number of people to the meeting. Do not allow squatters or extra invitees. Not only do meetings with more people cost more money, they take more time.
- Less Room – Don’t go for big conference rooms, where people hide out at the far end of the table and surf or do email. If there are 4 people in a meeting, get a small round table with 4 chairs.
- Less Interruptions – Defend your meetings against interruptions. Do not start them over when someone arrives late. Do not allow cell phone calls in the meeting.
- Less Work – No working on other items during meeting. If someone is busy working on something else on their laptop, then they should be excused. They obviously should be elsewhere working.
- Less Topics – No open ended “get-together meetings.” Ensure that each meeting has specific decisions to be made. No agenda? No meeting.
- Less Tech – No cell phones, laptops, etc. You are better off with a whiteboard and taking notes on paper. Does wonders for meeting productivity.
Try Less Meetings for More
Try cutting back on your meetings. Meetings are best in moderation.
Give you employees their time back. And they will give you back their productivity.
Put your meetings on a diet and watch your team’s productivity soar.
Does your workplace suffer from too many meetings? Do your meetings need a diet?
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15 Cool Ways To Boost Your Creativity
Feeling burnt out or lacking creative ideas?
This article is especially for all you writers, artists, business owners or anyone looking for some new ways to get their creativity flowing.
Here are 15 ways to give your creativity a jump start:
Write Your Ideas Down
Get into the habit of writing your ideas down as soon as you get them. This way you train your brain to keep coming up with ideas, and as soon as you get them you write them down.
When they are written down you don’t have to worry about remembering them and this allows more room for new ideas to form in your mind.
Good ideas and creativity usually do not appear under stress. When you are relaxed and rejuvenated, creative ideas usually come rather naturally.
Take a walk on the beach, take a nap, go and play some sport or do whatever it is that relaxes you so that your brain can be more creative when you get back to work.
Have No Expectations
Similar to living with no stress, but specifically no stress from the outcome.
When you create with love and passion and no expectation of the outcome, the chances are much greater that you will create something remarkable!
Be Easy On Yourself
Stop criticizing yourself and stop being so harsh for yourself. Accept yourself the way you are and do things to the best of your ability.
You are enough and you are creative. Don’t let self-limiting beliefs block out your creativity! Remove the barriers and the ideas will begin to flow.
Reading stimulates the mind. The more you read, the more you open your mind up to new ways of thinking and thus the more creative you will become.
I know that reading can be a bore, especially if you have to force yourself to do it. Just start small.
Choose a book on a topic that you like (it can even be about your favorite sport or artist) and spend 30 minutes before you go to bed reading that book. This way you can read 1-2 new books every month without it being a lot of effort, and it will definitely contribute to you being more creative.
Listen to Mozart
Albert Einstein said he owes his creativity to listening to Mozart pieces. Certain songs and compositions allow the brain to be more creative and function better.
Albert Einstein did not know why this was the case, but he found Mozart compositions to help his thinking.
In the present age the concept of music enhancing your thinking has been scientifically researched and proven. Certain frequencies have a positive effect on increasing your brain’s performance and creativity. Today they are known as Binaural Beats and Isochronic Tones.
Basically, scientists have engineered sound-files (I canít really call them songs) with researched frequencies that have proven to increase brain performance. Simply buy purchasing some of these tracks and listening to them with stereo headphones, you can already notice an effect on your thinking and creativity.
There are certain techniques that allow your mind to find peace and that allow you to silence all the hundreds of thoughts that constantly run through your mind all day.
When you achieve this inner calm, it has all sorts of benefits like being more creative and having better ideas.
The effects of exercise and physical movement on the mind and creativity have been studied for centuries.
There is no doubt that you feel much better after exercise. This is because after you exercise, endorphins (feel-good hormones) are released into your bloodstream.
Ask For Help
Don’t be scared to ask someone for help or for their opinion. The input from a friend or stranger could be enough to jump-start a whole series of ideas and new creativity.
Expand Your Horizons
Do something you have never ever done before in your life. Go sky-diving or bungee-jumping. Sign up for hip-hop classes.
The experience of it may be enough to boost your creativity tenfold and give you many new ideas.
Blueberries are said to be the richest in anti-oxidants and good for your brain an thinking abilities. Eat a handful a day, and even if you donít get extra creativity, enjoy the taste and the health benefits.
Stop Doing Drugs
I’m talking about sugars, processed foods, alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes.
(I shouldn’t have to tell you not to do hard drugs!)
Not only will your health benefit, but you will feel much more energetic. The chances are huge that you will find all sorts of new inspiration that comes with your new energy levels once you start eating healthy and stop consuming junk.
Puzzles stimulate your brain to look at a problem from different angles. The easier you are able to open up your mind to new ideas and new approaches, the more likely it will be that you become more creative.
I personally like playing piano. It is relaxing and it allows me to experiment with new tones, melodies and ideas. Often while playing an instrument and making music I get very creative ideas for my own projects.
If you’ve never played an instrument, why not start with something simple like piano, guitar or the drums?
Practice makes perfect.
Yeah it’s cliche, but it’s true. Do you want to be a great writer? Then write ever single day, even if it’s just about your dog.
Do you want to be a good designer? Then design something new every day, even if it’s just a logo for your favorite food.
Type your ideas in Producteev, it’s just as effective as #1: writing things down ;)
Simple Steps to Make Speaking in Public a Cinch
We’ve all been there…that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’re about to give a big presentation, fearful that you may blow it. The hesitation that grips your chest when you step into a party and you don’t know a soul, dreading the moment you have to introduce yourself. Most of the time, when we’re out of our comfort zone…it’s uncomfortable!
For some people, those same situations seem effortless…enjoyable, in fact.
Ah…yes, the gift of the gab. Some people are born with it, others come to it by practice. But the gift is not the ABILITY to gab, it is the ACTION of communicating. Every person on this planet has a gift to give and when we learn to communicate effectively, we are able to share our gift with the world.
So, how can it be easier to stand up and start talking?
1. Give yourself permission to be fabulous.
That’s right, you are the star of your own life and the sooner you start regarding yourself that way, the better. Forget peering at limp People magazines lying around your dentist’s office. The fascination with stardom has left our society crippled. Judging yourself against a photo-shopped lay-out of famous people walking their dogs, simply drains your personal energy. YOU are fabulous, in your own unique way. When you embrace that notion, you create a magnetic presence. TIP: Write down ten things you love and admire about yourself. Read that list everyday. When you focus on your fabulousness, others will too!
2. “I am an incredible public speaker.”
This is your new mantra. If you change your story, you change your life. When you think about a public speaking opportunity, this needs to be the first thought popping into your mind. Write this statement on post-its and place it all over your house, your car, anywhere you can see it, as many times a day as possible. You are creating a new imprint in your mind and even if you don’t believe it at first, you will in time. TIP: If you have a negative thought arise, stop yourself and repeat “I am an incredible public speaker.” You are training your mind, and it will take at least two weeks to make the switch. Practice pays off, so stick to it!
3. Tune In.
There are opportunities to speak up all the time. When you remove your hesitation about public speaking, you can begin to look for chances to speak at every turn. Why? Because who knows what will come of it?! A new job, a promotion, a new contact…perhaps a new love interest? The possibilities are endless, but you need to regard the effort with JOY, not FEAR. Now that you have trained your mind to think positively about public speaking, you can begin searching for your chance to seize the limelight. TIP: Find at least one opportunity a week (unplanned) to speak your mind. Start with a no pressure situation, like chatting with a stranger, and gradually raise the stakes…a work meeting, an important toast. Make it a game. Trust me, you are already the winner.
4. Open yourself up to the world.
Head up, shoulders back, and eyes forward. Simple directions that create wonderful results. When your body is open, you silently communicate that you are READY to tackle life’s challenges. You are available to take people in. If your arms are crossed, shoulders slouched over, eyes withdrawn, you are cut off from the world, hiding behind your own uncertainty. Now is the time to check in with yourself and choose to change. TIP: Notice how you hold your body in different situations. If you find that you are closing yourself off physically, subtly change your posture. Feel the difference. How does the world respond?
5. Now, settle down and listen.
Yes, you will taste the thrill of speaking soon enough and when you do, you will likely want to go on and on in front on everyone you meet, but remember, the art of effective communication involves LISTENING. People love it when you pay attention to them. Take in your surroundings and give someone the gift of your UNDIVIDED ATTENTION. This one act alone will make people love and appreciate your presence. TIP: Go to a meeting and purposely do not take your cell phone. Focus your attention entirely on the conversation, removing any possibility of personal distraction. You may think you do that already, but c’mon… aren’t you in the car next to mine making the phone call?
You already have the gift of the gab, so go and give your gift to everyone on your list!
Alexa Fischer is the creator of Lessons for the Limelight. Inspired by her work as a professional film and television actress, Alexa translates advanced performance skills into step-by-step guidelines for anyone desiring to maximize their personal presence. She teaches how to command the attention of a room, how to deliver powerful, engaging messages and how to look effortless doing so! Alexa believes that when you stay connected to your true passion and project your message effectively, your light illuminates and inspires everyone around you.
A frequent question from people in all career phases is what a person can do to better sell a new idea, whether to a customer or inside an organization. As much as it would be nice to have a standard formula that always works, success really depends on the particulars of your situation.
There are, however, a number of common strategies you can consider. Your best course of action is to be adept at using a variety of approaches to make your ideas more powerful and compelling. These nine strategies are a strong start to include in your idea-selling toolkit:
1. Get the Facts in Place behind Your Idea
Make sure you build fact-based, logical support as the underpinning for your idea. If the facts aren’t readily available, look for new or nontraditional information sources. Assemble the information you need to develop a fact-based case for why your idea will deliver results the organization needs.
2. Link Emotions to the Facts Supporting Your Idea
Think about the world’s great stories. Very few are made up solely of facts. They all are strongly rooted in characters and emotions. Develop the most compelling storyline which makes sense with your idea and creates emotional connections to it among potential supporters.
3. Depict Your Idea
Based on whatever is appropriate, create an early mock up of what you’re trying to accomplish. It could be a picture, a storyboard, a video, or an actual prototype, among other things. Help others buy-in to your idea by making it easy to interact with an early version of the end result you’re attempting to deliver.
4. Create a Clear Implementation Roadmap
If there aren’t obvious steps for how an idea can become reality, it may be dead on arrival in an organization. Break down the “how-to’s” behind your idea so key stakeholders can clearly see the effort and investment necessary to bring an idea to fruition.
5. Make Your Idea Easier to Support
Do the groundwork to make choosing your idea easy for decision makers by removing as many obstacles as possible. Think about whether it makes sense to break your idea up into easier to digest (i.e., support, fund, implement) pieces. Maybe you can better sell your idea by going the Goldilocks route, with “too much” and “too little” versions surrounding the option you want. Push for the BIG idea, but be happy to settle for the “just right” option in between.
6. Quietly Build Your Support One-by-One
Rather than waiting for a big meeting to introduce your idea and see how things go, build your support person-by-person ahead of time. Talk to individuals in advance, share where you’re headed, and solicit both input and support. If someone is supportive individually but becomes antagonistic or noncommittal in a later “big meeting,” you can always tactfully refresh their memory about an earlier favorable position.
7. Be Ready for the Right Moment
Some ideas will be ahead of their time when you’re working on them. Keep going. Perform all the preparation, get your assumptions and ideas challenged by others, and make refinements. Then read the organizational or market tea leaves as best you can so you’re ready to introduce the idea when it’s really the right time.
8. Secure Visible Third-Party Validation for Your Idea
It always helps to have an influential spokesperson backing your idea. Inside an organization, your third-party validation may not be from a TV star; it’s likely to come from senior leaders willing to expend their political capital to support good things for the organization. Identify who the key influencers are and start building their interest and support for your idea.
9. Pick a Different Salesperson
It could be someone else can run with your idea more effectively than you. If you think that’s the case, consider recruiting THAT person to be the salesperson. Or maybe even give the idea away to someone who can nurture and develop it better than you can. If you’re really interested in bettering the organization first and foremost, seeing the idea pushed forward and implemented by someone else should be more important than retaining ownership of a great idea which never sees the light of day.
These strategies are a starting point. Adapt, combine, or pull them apart so they’ll work most effectively in your organization to take full advantage of successful new ideas.
The purpose of professional networking is to gain information, increase your visibility in your field, and establish personal connections that will help you advance in your career. No matter how much you love your job, you should always be looking for ways to expand your networks because, ideally, your contacts will follow you from position to position. A strong network allows you to get advice from trusted sources, to keep your professional knowledge current, to find career opportunities, and to support the careers of others.
Look for Contacts Everywhere
Your network should have lots of variety; individuals from different companies, career levels, and professions can add a range of perspectives. Keeping in touch with your college friends who might be in different companies and industries is a great way to populate your network. Joining a professional association in your field and regularly attending its events is also a smart idea. Finally, investigate your company’s sponsored programs; many organizations provide opportunities for individuals to network within the company. Training events, visits from management, guest speakers, or various types of interest-based events can yield the same type of contacts as an external event.
Take One Step at a Time
Know that it takes time to authentically populate your network. But also know that each new contact is a step in the right direction. When I first got into educating people on twentysomething workplace issues, it was startling how helpful I found just one meeting of the Chicago chapter of the American Society for Training and Development. I walked out of the event with business cards for several potential clients and mentors. My network increased after only one event.
Before going to such an event, think about what you hope to get out of attending. Is it general knowledge? Is it a new contact in your field? Or perhaps you are looking for someone to provide input on one of your projects? Understand who the speakers will be at the event and how you might contact them or access their materials in advance of or after the event. Also, learn what other companies and individuals might be at the event. Prepare a few questions that you want to explore, and set a goal to answer them at the event. For example, if you want to do an informational interview—a thirty-minute conversation with an expert on a new development in your field—your goal may be to find someone at the event with that type of expertise.
Many experts are willing to speak and share their knowledge, but some may not be as willing. Don’t become discouraged. It may take a few attempts at building your network to make a personal connection. Once you have received an initial response and are moving forward with an interaction—whether it’s in person or via e-mail or phone—be friendly, respectful, and conscious of the contact’s time constraints. Confirm your contact’s available time and the topic you want to cover. If you have the opportunity to sit down with a contact in person, remember to make eye contact, smile, shake hands firmly, and exchange business cards. Ask thoughtful questions and listen carefully to the answers.
Follow Up and Return the Favor
If you are meeting over coffee or a meal, when the check comes, simply say to your contact, “I invited you here today, so this is my treat.” This, combined with a handwritten thank-you note, will make the best possible impression and leave the door open for future follow-up—which you should do, of course! If your contact gave you any advice or suggested a course of action, touch base every few months with an update on your progress. And since effective networking always involves give and take, think about ways you can help your contact in return.
by Alexandra Levit
…. Can you believe it?
2010 is almost over. It’s the home stretch.
Only 2 months left until 2011.
For many businesses, the year is already over. (Of course, for retail it’s just getting started.)
What do you have left to get done this year? Are you still on track to reach your goals?
It’s too late for a negative split. It’s time for an all out sprint to the finish.
Where Are You Going to Finish?
Progress check: Are you where you wanted to be on your goals?
The year is 83.3% done. Are your goals?
Even if you are not on track, the last two months of the year can be a great time to get ahead. Often, November and December are lost to holidays, travel, and more.
However, it can also be a great time to dedicate (or re-dedicate) yourself to reaching your goals.
Sprinting to the Finish
With 2 months left in the year, you are not going to make up ground that you did not cover in the first 10. However, there are many ways that you can still make significant progress.
Here are just a few ways to sprint towards your goals in the final months of the year:
- Work When Others Are Not – Many people, (and even businesses), slack off during the final two months of the year. Some essentially shutdown. Use this to your advantage. When others are slacking, increase your output. I find that I get more done during this time, when others are not working.
- Do a Power Surge – The final two months of the year are a great time to do a productivity surge. No reason to coast to the finish. Set an aggressive goal to be completed in this short time frame. I am actually starting a new (secret) project today that is to be completed by January 1st. The short time window helps drive my productivity.
- Sprint to the Finish – No matter what the status of your current goals, do not let up during the home stretch. Sprint to the finish even if you are falling short of where you wanted to be. You will still be that much closer to your goals.
- Ask For Help – Many times when we are not reaching our goals, we let up. We give up our progress and momentum. This is the time to tell your pride to “suck it up” and ask for help. You are probably closer than you think to success and maybe you need some assistance to push across that finish line.
- Do Not Wait to Set New Goals – Start goals now. You don’t have to wait to start new goals. New Year’s is an artificial date. You can start goals anytime. If you are not where you want to be, now is the time to set a path. Start today!
The year is not over yet. But, 2011 will be here before you blink.
There are two full months left. Where will your goals be when the year ends?
Dedicate yourself do driving hard in the final two months.
Let’s finish strong in the home stretch.
What do you want to finish this year? Where do your goals stand?
Image credit by BotheredByBees
Help your kids have a great Halloween with these smart strategies.
- Jane Farrell, BettyConfidential.comThese days, Halloween’s a huge holiday: Drive down any suburban street, and chances are that most of the houses will be festooned with glowing pumpkins, tiny hanging ghosts and flying witches. But with all that preparation comes some real hazards for kids, both before the holiday and during it. Here, some expert tips on how to handle the really scary parts of Halloween:
The perils of the pumpkin
If you really want a hand-carved pumpkin, do it yourself. It’s not a project for kids. And it’s best to use a knife designed especially for pumpkin carving, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Carve with small controlled strokes on a steady, smooth surface. Illuminate the pumpkin with a glow stick or small flashlight; that’s much less hazardous than candles. Of course, you can take the easy way out and just paint a face on the pumpkin!
Safe costumes, safe streets
Kids trick-or-treating on Halloween night are four times likelier to be hit by cars than on any other night, according to the National Fire Protection Association. And sometimes their costumes have more to do with that than you might think. Of course, experts advise making sure your kids don’t suddenly run across the street. But it’s also a good idea to choose a brightly colored, highly visible costume and to stick a noticeable piece of reflective tape on it, as well as on the child’s treat bag. The costume should be loose enough so your little princess can turn her head to see any oncoming traffic, but not so big that she’s tripping over her hem. Kids are also more easily visible to drivers when they’re trick-or-treating in groups. If you’re in the driver’s seat, make sure to travel very, very slowly down streets where kids are out in force.
Emergency prep for older kids
Experts generally recommend that parents accompany kids up to age 12 so you can make sure they follow safety principles like not going to any dark houses and refusing to accept candy from anyone on the street. But once kids are past 12 and want to go on their own, there are a few safety measures parents should take: Give them a curfew. Make sure they take a flashlight, wear a watch and have a cell phone, or money to call you. They should also go only in groups and only on routes you know about.
Make sure treats aren’t tricks
The good news: Incidents of kids getting poisoned candy or razor blades in apples are few and very far between. The bad news: It does happen. Safety experts, from police to pediatricians, uniformly advise parents to take a look at their child’s haul, before he starts wolfing it down, and to throw away any unwrapped treats. You should carefully inspect even wrapped treats (a Minneapolis man was arrested in 2000 after he put needles in the bottom of wrapped candy bars).
Don’t forget about your pets!
When choosing a costume for your dog (99% of cats just won’t put up with that), use the same safety precautions you would in picking an outfit for your kids or yourself. Make sure it’s loose enough so that your pet can move freely and see what’s going on around him. With an animal, a costume is enough – paint or makeup can be toxic. If your dog is walking with you or your kids, keep him on a leash: He may become frightened enough by unfamiliar sounds to run away. If your cat is an outdoor cat, keep her inside on Halloween night. And as for pets of either species who just want to stay in the house, give them a “safe” area where they don’t have to hear the doorbell ring repeatedly. When the trick-or-treating’s over, give them a few pet treats as a reward (no actual candy, though; chocolate, especially, can even be fatal).