Latest "Communication" Posts

Hi There! The Etiquette of Salutations in Business Communications

August 12, 2017


Envelope & Pen
A friend of mine recently commented that a large number of emails she has received over the past few months seem to begin with “Hi!” or “Hi Jane!” While that’s an appropriate salutation if you are sending a note to a friend, it is not appropriate if you’re reaching out to a business contact—or someone you don’t know personally. An email is a letter, and should be treated as such—from beginning to end.

With our ability to fire off quick emails and send texts that include short-forms of words (LOL) and fun emoticons, when writing a business letter, here are salutation tips to remember…that never go out of style.

Most of the time, in the business arena you will start your e-mail or letter with “Dear Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. or Dr. Hyde or even Dear Margaret –whichever is the appropriate way to address the recipient depending on your relationship with them. Also consider the industry norm and even the culture you are communicating with.

However you begin, the salutation ends with a colon. You know the punctuation mark that’s used in happy faces :0). (Although most people incorrectly use the semi-colon; in salutations.)

It is important to note that traditionally, “Mrs.” Was used for married women and “Miss” was used to address unmarried women. Because this distinction was made only for women—with men always being referred to as “Mr.” regardless of marital status –we now use “Ms.” in salutations to address women unless you know they are married. Most of the time, you will start your letter with “Dear Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. or Dr. ______–whichever is the appropriate way to address the recipient—followed by a colon.

Unless you know that the person you’re sending the e-mail or letter prefers “Miss” or “Mrs.,” always use “Ms.” when addressing her in a formal manner.

If your business letter or email is not being addressed to one particular person at a company, the best practice is to address the company, the department or the specific role. The more specific you are, the more likely your letter will make it to the hands of the appropriate person. If, for example,you’re sending a cover letter with your resume—and you don’t have the name of the human resources director (although it might be better to do some digging as that will probably get your letter to the top of the pile), address the letter with “Dear Human Resources Director.”

As busy as we are today, it’s highly likely that your business correspondence is being sent via Internet rather than through the post office. It’s important to note that even though it’s so easy to send a quick note to a client or business contact by email, the salutation sets the tone for the remainder of the email message.

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Posted by Margaret in Communication, Etiquette Tips, Everyday Etiquette and tagged

10 Ways Women Sabotage Their Own Presentations (And How to Fix Them)

May 11, 2017

Speaker at conference and presentation. Audience at the conference hall

Presenting before a group is a golden opportunity to make your voice and your opinions heard, to change minds and hearts, and to woo people to your business.

So why is it that we women are so prone to sabotaging these valuable moments?

I’ve watched thousands of speakers and have presented innumerable times myself, and over the years I’ve noticed a pattern: Women are prone to several habits and tics that undermine their message.

I’m not saying that men don’t make similar mistakes — they do — but let’s face facts. Woman make less money on the dollar. We face the tug-of-war between home and the office in a different way than men do. We risk being called too shrill, too bossy, too opinionated.

Combine that with the following speaking faux pas and you risk undermining your own hard work. You can gain the upper hand, though, with a bit of practice. Here are the most common mistakes we women make — and how to fix them.

No point of view. Women are wonderful at one-on-one discussions and small groups because we’re naturals at collaborating and building consensus. Unfortunately, that also means that many women avoid the stage. We have fewer female speaking role models that we can emulate, and we can tend toward general sharing of information rather than specific viewpoints. A presentation without a point of view can come off as a lecture, or the presenter can appear wishy-washy. The fix: Create and cultivate your own unique perspective. Think about TED Talks: They’re informative, yet they always have a point of view that makes you think. By drilling down, reflecting and asking good questions about your information you can develop an opinion that stands out.

Pacing the stage. This is a bad habit that’s common among both men and women presenting on small to medium stages. Pacing the stage makes you seem unsure and it also robs your audience of a steady viewing point. Think about what audiences have become accustomed to: Broadcasters stay in one spot. At large events, you don’t see speakers dashing all over the stage — it would be magnified on the Jumbotron! Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move during your presentation. But pacing doesn’t indicate confidence or wisdom; it telegraphs nervousness to the crowd. The fix: Try the Fripp method of stage movement: move when you want to demonstrate action such as walking or running, when you demonstrate the passing of time, and when you transition from point to point. Remember that your goal is to connect with your message and to connect with your audience. Before speaking, release nervous energy with jumping jacks and move on to deep, diaphragmatic breathing to center yourself and clear your mind. You can even hold your hand over your heart to remind you of how you want to present yourself to your audience: With a passion that clearly comes from within.

High voice and upspeak. Everyone’s voice tends to rise when nervous — it’s human nature — but on the stage it’s a clear sign that you have a bit of stage fright. Upspeak, on the other hand, is when your voice rises at the end of a sentence so that it sounds like a question. Women are more prone to upspeak thanks to our collaborative nature; we want to invite opinions. It’s common for speakers to draw the audience in with rhetorical and literal questions, but those questions need to be planned and deliberate. The fix: Practice modulating your voice. Slow down. Be present. Focus more on connecting with your audience rather than being overwhelmed by the prospect of having one. Remember, all speaking is public speaking and you’ve been speaking to others your entire life.

Too much smiling. Women are taught from an early age to smile, but smiling too much can seem as if you’re insincere. I’ve watched women smile through presentations even when they’re delivering pain points and bad or sad news, which throws the audience off. You want your facial movements to reflect your inner feelings and emotions; otherwise, it’s just a mask! An audience can always sense a speaker’s lack of authenticity. The fix: Practice with your presentation so that you’re not just reading words, you’re delivering a message. You would be thrown off if a person told you about a death in the family while smiling; the same rules apply to your presentation. Both you and your audience will have a better time if you take the journey together. A word of caution: If you’re still acutely grieving over a loss or difficult event you’re not yet ready to share what you’ve learned from the platform.

Clothing that doesn’t match the occasion. There’s a time and place for your favorite short skirt or deep-V shirt, but it’s not on a stage or in a boardroom where it can detract from your credibility. The fix: Stick to skirts or dresses that are knee-length or just above the knee and avoid cleavage.

The wrong set of heels. As with short skirts and low-cut tops, there’s a place for those sky-high stilettos. (Hint: It’s not at work or on the stage.) Keep in mind, too, that certain high heels — no matter the heel size — can make a distracting clack-clack-clack as you walk across a stage. The fix: Stash the stilettos and test your heels on a hard surface before making your presentation. If they make noise when you walk, ditch them in favor of a less noisy pair. If the problem persists, buy some felt-bottomed ballroom dance shoes. This will allow your words to be heard rather than your heels.

Clothing patterns. Men, in their suits and ties, normally have an advantage here: We haven’t seen too many heavily patterned clothes for men since the 1970s. We women, on the other hand, have a wide variety of styles and patterns to choose from when dressing. Unfortunately, too-busy patterns can put the focus on our clothes rather than on what we’re saying. The fix: Reserve patterns for off-work hours and stick to solids.

Imploding body language. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy has a term for women who cross their legs, pull their shoulders in, or cross their arms: “imploding.” All three of these body stances make you physically smaller, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re before an audience. To connect, you must be open. For your message to land, you need to deliver it confidently. Creating the smallest version of yourself doesn’t indicate confidence, it indicates defensiveness. The fix: Stand with your shoulders back and your spine straight. If you’re sitting, keep your legs together and uncrossed or crossed at the ankle.

Using eyeglasses as props. Eyeglasses are essential for so many of us, but they belong in one place during presentations: Balanced on the bridge of your nose. If your glasses slide down your nose and you peer over them, it gives the actual effect of looking down your nose at someone. Not the best if you’re trying to create a real connection. Another faux pas is removing the glasses and then holding them while speaking. Drama teachers will tell you that props are powerful because they command attention. Do you want to command attention to your reading glasses? The fix: Adjust your glasses immediately if they slide down your nose. At the next opportunity, have them adjusted at an eyeglass store. If you need to remove your glasses during a presentation, make sure you have a place to stash them out of sight.

Preening. This is another unconscious action that’s particular to women: We touch our faces and push around our hair while speaking, which is just as distracting as using eyeglasses as props. The fix: If necessary, pull your hair back so you’re not tempted to touch it. Ask your hairstylist to teach you two or three stage-ready styles that you can easily create yourself. Touching your face can be a difficult habit to break, but I’ve found great success by remembering that touching your face can spread germs and make myself more vulnerable to illnesses like the flu.

With a little preparation, practice, and awareness, you can dial back distractions and turn your next speaking engagement into a chance to make a difference for your audience.

 

 

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Posted by Margaret Page in A Page of Insight, Communication and tagged ,

The Art of Receiving a Compliment

May 7, 2016

I love compliments

 

Women, tell me if you’re familiar with this scenario: You tell a colleague that her work on a presentation was stellar — clear, concise, funny, thoughtful. You walked away with amazing insights and tell her you appreciate her hard work.

And then she brushes it off.

“Oh, it wasn’t that good,” she says.

Or, “I had a lot of help.”

Or maybe even: “I could have done better if I had done more to prepare.”

Sound familiar? You might be cringing right now because you’ve been that woman throwing away a compliment as if it were a hot potato. Can you imagine a man doing such a thing? Why is it that we have such a difficult time just saying, “Thank you! I worked hard.” Or, even better, taking that compliment to heart and really savouring it?

The urge to throw away compliments is real. According to a study by Robert Herbert, a sociolinguist, compliments given from one man to another were accepted 40 percent of the time. Yet women accept only a dismal 22 percent of compliments from other women. (Interestingly, woman accept compliments 68 percent of the time when given by men.)

What makes us throw up our compliment armor? There are several reasons why.

  • We don’t want to stand out. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true: Women who stand out from the crowd can be perceived as overly ambitious or social climbers. Rejecting a compliment keeps you on a level playing field.
  • We don’t want to seem stuck up. Accepting a compliment can make it seem like you’re acknowledging something good about yourself — and in a woman’s world, even the simple act of saying “thank you” can be perceived as self-aggrandizement.
  • We think we’re being tricked. Laura Brannon of Kansas State University says that if we think the complimenter wants something out of us, we’re less likely to believe the compliment.

So what would the world look like if women started accepting more compliments? Personally, I think more women would be empowered in their day-to-day lives and more courageous in business. When someone gives me a compliment, I take it. If you want to take the time to tell me something nice, I want to take the time to enjoy it. After all, I’ve earned it!

Here are my three tips for accepting any compliment:

  • Don’t deflect. Accept the compliment. Say thank you. Not “thank you, but …” Just “thank you.” There’s no need to deflect well-earned praise.
  • Don’t insult yourself. Not only does insulting yourself lower your self-esteem, it puts the complimenter in the uncomfortable situation of not only offering you a compliment but also acting as your psychotherapist. Take your praise!
  • Avoid a compliment battle. There’s no need to one-up your compliment with another compliment. Not only can the situation turn awkward fast, but you don’t want your compliment to come across as insincere. Save your compliments for when you can be thoughtful and authentic.

What are you going to do the next time someone gives you a compliment? Tell me in the comments below! If you’d like tips on how to give praise, check out this blog post on how to craft the perfect compliment.

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Posted by Margaret Page in Communication, Etiquette Edge, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

When Tragedy Strikes: The Social Media Etiquette Guide

November 6, 2014

Social media etiquette The deadly shooting that took place in Ottawa has highlighted, once again, the ethical quandaries around the use of social media during a tragedy.

Just as reports from local Canadian news outlets were coming out, the hashtags #OttawaShooting, #StaySafeOttawa and #PrayForOttawa jumped into action–serving as both a spread the news of the tragedy, as well as offer support.

Social media has given us the ability to stay on top of every important, and tragic, event that’s happening in the world, in real time.  And that’s amazing! We live in a time where we have the unique ability to spread the news to a worldwide audience with just a click. But with this “power” to share our opinions with the world, we often forget to be sensitive. These are REAL tragedies happening to REAL people, and a little sensitivity to that will go a long way.   

Think before you tweet

Sports Illustrated model Chrissy Teigen experienced a barrage of angry tweets in response to this tweet she posted shortly after news of the shooting broke out: “Active shooting in Canada, or as we call it in America, Wednesday”

Teigen’s attempt at a witty comment on gun control issues in the US fell flat. Her followers immediately took to Twitter to berate her for the controversial tweet. And it got out of hand very quickly, with tweets like “Don’t let the door hit you in your undernourished butt on your way out of the United States” and “I hope someone murders someone you love…” |

Really? I can’t believe that so many people chimed in with such hateful responses. Remember the old adage “Two wrongs don’t make it right”? The supermodel posted soon after that she was quitting Twitter after receiving dozens of death threats.

Obviously the tweet Teigen sent out was ill timed and I’m sure she regrets it, but the backlash was incredibly inappropriate. Just because we have the ability to share all of our thoughts in an instant, doesn’t mean we should!

Newsjacking the tragedy

In the aftermath of the Newton tragedy in 2012, a big box store tweeted their condolences using the hashtag #Fab15Toys. While it IS appropriate for businesses to stop and acknowledge the event, share condolences with those affected – using a self-promoting hashtag in the tweet is completely inappropriate and insensitive.

The retailer later apologized for the tweet, explaining that they used the hashtag to garner exposure to the tragic event. Whatever the reason, the use of the hashtag was in poor taste and viewed as such by followers, who chimed in with their distaste.

Bottom line for business owners: Using a tragic event to gain followers and draw attention to your social media is just plain unethical.

Showing consideration (and common sense)

To save you some embarrassment, and help you keep it classy, I’ve put together a few tips on how to manage your social media when a tragedy strikes.

  • Acknowledge the tragedy and extend your condolences to those who have been affected. Keep it simple with something like “Our thoughts are with Ottawa today.”
  • If you’re using a social media schedule tool, such as Hootsuite, for example, take a quick review of the posts and tweets that are in the queue. Remove those that are promoting your company. Marketing your company during a tragedy will make your company appear at though they lack empathy. I would also recommend rescheduling tweets or Facebook posts that are lighthearted or humorous, especially those scheduled for the day of the tragedy.
  • If you’re running paid ads on social media, give some thought to how they would appear in light of the tragedy and if needed, hit the pause on your ad campaign for a few days.
  • Let the “real” reporters report on the details of the event, the victims—and anyone else involved. Even though we have streams of content coming in live, as events unfold, we aren’t “there.” Especially for company accounts, make sure your brand is seen an objective third party—your message should only convey support and offer help where you can help.
  • Share information on your social networks about how others can help with recovery efforts, if there is something set up (such as funds that might be set up to help those affected by tragedy)

During a time of crisis, such as the one that we experienced in Ottawa, the clock stops for a while. It’s impossible to approach such a day as “business as usual.” Use common sense when sharing content on social media the day of the tragedy, and in the days that follow.

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Posted by Margaret Page in Communication and tagged

Tips for Introducing Yourself – And Others

August 7, 2014

Introduction etiquette tips Often, people avoid introducing themselves or others, because they are uncomfortable doing so and perhaps afraid they might not follow proper protocol. In truth, it’s fairly simple: always state the name of the most honored person first. An example would be, “Melinda Gates, I would like to introduce to you my roommate, Jane Drake.”

Then, add a snippet of information on a common interest to help them connect and begin a conversation.  Add information about their career, education, place of origin, hobbies, interests, family or a host of other areas.  Here is an example “Jane is in my Spanish class. She’s just returned from a trip to Cancun.  Aren’t you planning a trip there this winter?”

When presenting one person to another, look at the most honored person first, then turn to the other person. Remember to distinctly pronounce the names to provide respect for those you are introducing.

If you are in a more formal setting, or when there is an obvious age difference, it’s best to use titles and last names, such as: “Mrs. Jameson, I’d like introduce to you Mr. Robertson.”

When you are introducing yourself to others, always include both your first and last name and say your name slowing so people can catch it. Then add something about yourself to help move the conversation forward. Then, ask for the other person’s name. Repeat the name of that person, such as, “It’s great to meet you, Joan.”

Always maintain eye contact with the person you’re being introduced to. Eye contact demonstrates that you are paying attention and the introduction is important to you.

Email Introductions

When introducing two people through email, here are some tips to follow:

  • Like any other email, the subject line should the topic. Something like: “E-Introduction: Jane Smith and Larry Vance,” ensures that both recipients are alerted to the content.
  • Most of the time, there is a specific reason for the introduction –Person One (Jane Smith) asked you to provide an introduction to Person Two (Larry Vance), for example. Open the email with something that indicates you’re making an introduction on their behalf. Then, continue with the introduction: “Larry Vance, allow me to introduce Jane Smith. Jane is a freelance designer and I think she could be of great assistance to you on your new web design project.”
  • Close the email with a line that takes you out of the conversation. Something like: “I’ll let you two take it from here. All the best, Margaret Page.”

Want to learn how to keep up with etiquette challenges in our modern society? That’s where I come in! Be more confident when making introductions—and maximize your personal impact today! Find out more about business etiquette training.

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Getting the Hang of Google Hangout – An Etiquette Guide

July 31, 2014

Google Hangout Etiquette The great thing about where we are with technology today is that there is always something new and exciting just around the corner. Google Hangouts is one of the newest ways to communicate online in group discussions. Developed by search engine giant, Google, Google Hangouts is an instant messaging and video chat platform that launched last year.

With Hangouts you can bring conversations to life through photos, emoji, and group video calls across computers and mobile devices – for free!

As with any new technology, it’s natural to be a little apprehensive (nervous even!) to try it out, and Hangouts is no exceptions. To ensure that you have a pleasant experience—whether as a host or a participant—I’ve put together a few Google Hangout etiquette tips to keep in mind.

Participant Etiquette

  • RSVP. Respond with a yes or no when invited to a Hangout. There are only 10 participants allowed on a Hangout at one time.
  • Be prepared. If it’s your first or your twenty-first Hangout, log in 10 minutes before the online meeting to make sure you have all the technical requirements set up.
  • Invest in a headset. If you’re participating in an audio conference of any kind, use a headset. This is not only important if there are others working near you, but it prevents feedback from your computer.
  • Be on time. No matter what kind of meeting you’re attending—virtual or in-person, the “on time” rules apply. You can log into the Hangout and leave the window open while you wait for others to join.
  • Speak clearly and wait your turn. You can use the chat feature to post your comments to the group, as well.
  • Mute your microphone when you’re not speaking.
  • If you aren’t “camera-ready,” you can turn off your camera (top right of screen) and your profile image will show up.
  • Save your snacking for after the chat.
  • Pay attention to the speaker.

Host Etiquette

  • Invite up to 10 people to a Hangout (that’s Google’s limit for calls)
  • Send out clear instructions for the Hangout well before the scheduled meeting time. There may be plugins to install or other technical details to follow so that the participant is able to join.
  • Test your own equipment setup in advance of the meeting. This includes your microphone and camera! Attendees will want to see you!
  • Have an agenda. Establish a timeframe for the Hangout – as well as an agenda. Like any other meeting, it’s easy to get derailed if you don’t have a plan.
  • Begin and end on time.
  • Ask participants to mute their microphones unless they are contributing to the conversation. This keeps the keyboard clicking distractions to a minimum.
  • Share presentations and engage with the group. With online meetings, you can be as interactive as you are during offline gatherings. Share presentations. Ask questions. Poll the group. Have fun with it!

Google Hangouts are proving to be a great new way to communicate and collaborate with people across the globe – in real time.  Have you participated or hosted a Hangout? I would love to hear about your experience!

 

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Are Thank You Notes a Thing of the Past?

July 8, 2014 Thank You Notes

In a world where we are communicating more and more through email, text and social media, the value of a physical thank you note is being lost. Yes, it is amazing how easy it is to stay in touch nowadays – a quick text to see how someone’s day is going– but with something as important as a thank you note, I still believe sending a physical card is far more valuable.

After all, you can’t display an email on your desk or hang a text on your bulletin board!

Physical cards still have a longer shelf life—and greater impact. Because we get so many emails and text messages throughout the day, it’s such a thrill to open our mailbox (our REAL mailbox) and find a physical card inside.

But who has time for that, right? We have the best intentions – we really do want to send out more cards, but time gets away from us and it becomes just one more thing to add to our to-do list. Did you know that people intend to send out an average 70 cards a year for various occasions, but in the end only send out 10 because of the inconvenience? Unless you really plan ahead, when you think about sending out a card, you’re scrambling to find a stamp!

Well, that’s why I am such a huge fan of Send Out Cards. I love them.

SendOutCards, founded by CEO Kody Bateman in 2003 – has sent out over 100 million cards since its launch. The online service makes it so easy to send a personalized, printed greeting card to anyone. You choose a custom card, add your own personal photo and message – and then you just click SEND. They take care of all the rest – printing, stuffing, stamping and mailing the physical card for you.

My personal goal is to send out one card each day. And although I think email thank-yous are convenient and necessary, the arrival of a personal card is far more memorable. If you’re trying to stand out from the crowd, separate yourself from your competitors, sending a physical card will help you do that.

If you’re interested in learning more about Send Out cards, send me a note. I’d love to send you a Splash Code that’s worth about 50 free cards!

 

 

 

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Email Etiquette – 12 Ways to Keep Your Reputation Intact

June 30, 2014 email etiquette tips

Did you know that the average person spends nearly 30% of their workweek on email? According to a recent report from McKinsey Global Institute, we’re spending about 13 hours a week writing, reading, sorting, deleting and sending email. That’s a lot of time!

Email messaging now exceeds telephone use as the primary form of business communication. And that’s not surprising. Whether you’re in front of your computer or using a tablet or smartphone, it’s quick and easy to send someone an email. So simple, in fact, that many people forget that by clicking “reply,” and typing up a quick response without giving it a second thought, your message can backfire.

As with any other type of communication, missteps have the potential to sabotage your reputation—especially in the business world. We’ve all heard the horror stories of emails intended for a colleague (with gossip about the boss) showing up in the inbox of the CEO. Side note here: Gossip is a no-no. Especially in business. And especially about the boss. And in writing? Ugh. Bad idea.

To help ensure that you keep your stellar reputation in place – and don’t end up with egg on your face—here are some email etiquette tips to keep in mind.

  1. Stick to business. As noted above, before sending out an email to a colleague or client, ask yourself if the content is something you’d put on your company’s letterhead or post in the lunchroom for everyone to see.
  2. One email; one topic. Write the topic of the email in the subject line. One topic. Every email should address one specific topic so that it’s easy for recipients to reference.
  3. To whom it may concern. Always begin your email with a salutation, just as you would with written communication.
  4. Introduce yourself. If you’re sending an email to a new business contact, briefly introduce yourself. Don’t assume the recipient will recognize who you are through your email address.
  5. Use good grammar. Email can be a little less formal, but don’t forget to follow standard writing protocol. Spelling, grammar and punctuation matter anytime you’re drafting a communication.
  6. Keep it short. Just as your subject line should be clear, your content needs to be succinct. Get to the point. And make sure that the topic fits the subject line.
  7. Keep it down. Writing in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS makes it appear as though you are shouting. Always use sentence case.
  8. Watch your tone. Or rather, lack thereof. Where you can pull off being clever or “joking around” when communicating in person, those “jokes” won’t fly in an email. Be direct and clear in your message so that your email is interpreted as you intended.
  9. No shortcuts. While it’s important to “keep it short,” business emails are not the place to showcase all of the texting shortcuts you’ve learned. Using “Gr8” and “TY” in work emails is unacceptable.
  10. Watch the “reply all.” Only reply to those who are of continued relevance to the communication.
  11. Sign your name. Close your email with “Sincerely,” or “Regards” or ‘All the best” – any of these are acceptable. Follow the closing with a signature has your full name and contact information.
  12. Pick up the phone. If the topic of the email communication goes astray—and questions and confusions are flying back and forth – best to pick up the phone and get back on the same page.

Do you have any email etiquette tips to share?

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5 Tips for Being a Leader at a Conference

April 22, 2014

Delighted to share a guest blog post today by Luvania Pathmanathan

Leadercast Vancouver What does being a “leader” truly mean? While everyone has a different connotation of what a leader means, I have noticed that it narrows down to a few key factors – encouragement, influence, and most importantly, trust. How are these soft skills built? Having just completed an undergraduate degree, I have instantly realized that these are not taught within the four walls of a classroom. Associating myself with individuals I consider my mentors, whom embody these skills, I recognized that they commonly associate themselves with attending impactful events, such as conferences. Most recently, being involved with Leadercast Vancouver, I have identified the value of partnering oneself with like-minded individuals, as it allows one to grow both professionally and personally.

Leadercast’s 2014 theme, Beyond You, highlights honing our leadership skills that stem beyond our routinized daily tasks. It asks, “what can we do to make a stronger impact for those around us, such as our colleagues and neighbours and also with the larger community?” This avenue of leadership has to originate from a genuine place – that place being you. Conferences motivate and inspire you to build your personal leadership skills, therefore allowing you to successfully enhance yourself as a leader in positions and skills that are beyond you.

Life often presents us with opportunities to be in leadership positions. Sometimes they fall in naturally and sometimes we need to recognize to take that extra step. Attending Leadercast Vancouver is that leap to take the extra step. We realize that it may involve stepping out of comfort zones, which is why we’ve outlined our Top 5 tips and etiquette protocols:

  • Dress appropriately. This ties in with taking the time to read about the organization hosting the conference, the conference itself, speakers, etc. Once you know the nature of the conference, it will allow you to gauge your attire accordingly. As your choice of dress will be the first to be noticed, it is especially important to spend time orientating yourself with the details of the conference. A general rule of thumb is to always ‘dress up’ rather than ‘dress down.’
  • Electronic era. Despite how aware the conference MC will make note of it, do double and triple check that the volume on all your mobile and electronic devices are turned to silent. No one likes to be that person whose alarm goes off in the middle of a keynote speaker’s presentation. In a similar fashion, as WiFi at conferences is known to be slow due to the volume of attendees, be courteous by holding off on downloading large files such as videos. Also, if you are sitting next to a wall, try to avoid using the power outlets to charge your devices as someone could easily trip over them. Instead, opt to bring a (fully-charged) battery pack.
  • Ask questions. While asking questions after a speaker’s presentation is encouraged, it is courteous to limit yourself to the number and length of questions you ask. There are likely other attendees eager to ask questions. We need to respect the speaker’s time and conference schedule, especially if the question you pose may not be answerable in a short amount of time. If possible, this is a great opportunity to meet the speaker in-person after the session and perhaps even carry the conversation outside of the conference agenda.
  • Be network ready. Remember (and practice) your 30-second elevator pitch, as it may be the only opportunity you have to present yourself to a particular individual. A great way to maximize your seconds is by presenting the benefits you provide, as opposed to a ‘sales pitch.’ For elevator pitch masters, attempt to put a personal spin relating to the individual you’re speaking with. Business cards are a must-have ‘tool’ for conferences, as they are judged almost as fast as your appearance. Now that you have successfully pitched yourself and exchanged business cards, follow up with the individuals you spoke with within a week’s time to ensure the connection does not go ‘cold.’
  • General do’s and don’ts. Be mindful of seating arrangements by being considerate of taking up more than one chair. Help a fellow attendee looking for a seat by raising your hand to let them know that there’s a seat available next to you. As it is likely the first time that you will be meeting many of your fellow attendees, it is a good idea to present yourself professionally on your body language and gestures. During sessions, be attentive and alert so that speakers know you are engaged and while networking, keep physical contact to a minimum by only offering handshakes.

Attending conferences, such as Leadercast Vancouver 2014, has tremendous potential opportunities for us to effectively challenge our leadership skills. Most importantly, listen to what the speakers have to say as they will more than likely leave a few golden nuggets that serve as motivational reminders throughout our everyday lives.

To find out more about Leadercast Vancouver 2014, please visit: www.leadercastvancouver.ca

 

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A Great Model for Networking: Honey Bees

March 27, 2014

Today’s article is written by Dr. Loren Ekroth

are you networking or pollinating In today’s article I draw upon nature, mainly biology, to find a new paradigm for relating to others. In short, it is this: When we do more than connect, when we add something that gives more vitality to those we connect with, everybody gains.

Definition of pollinate: To transfer pollen from a stamen to a pistil; fertilization in flowering plants.

Without bees and butterflies, no pollination. Without pollination, no flowering, no honey or corn. Pollination helps both to co-evolve.

Definition of networking: To meet people who might be useful to know, especially in your job, but also in social life.

Many business and professional meetings set aside a time for “networking” during which attendees chat and exchange business cards. But often that time is too short for people to make meaningful connections. Then it becomes a “meet and greet” that resembles “hit and run.”

I’ve come to believe that effective networking requires pollination, which adds something of value to both participants. The pollinator gets a reward such as nectar for pollinating the plant.

Here is a description by George Bernard Shaw of humans pollinating.

“If I give you an apple and you give me an apple, we both have one apple. But if I give you an idea and you give me an idea, we both have two ideas.”  (Both prosper by gaining a new idea.)

Of course, for human pollination to work, both persons must be receptive to the transaction. (We all know people who resist ideas different from what they already believe.) People who interact only with like-minded others do not grow very much.

Four ways to pollinate are to:

  1. share your useful ideas and new perspectives
  2. validate people with your respect and enthusiasm
  3. be curious and learn about others
  4. help people connect with those they don’t know.

My late friend Anne Boe, author of “Is Your Net Working?” was clear that participants should “give without an expectation that doing so will reap an immediate reward.” Instead, she recommended that you give because it’s the right thing to do. Often a “go-giver” will eventually reap a benefit.

As psychologist Robert Cialdini describes in his book, “Influence,” the principle of reciprocity is powerful. When we give a gift, compliment a person, or do them a favor, the receiver usually feels a need to reciprocate, if not immediately, then later on.

When those interacting have different experiences or ideas, both can gain new perspectives. For example, when an an artist interacts with an engineer, a realtor with a teacher, a young adult with a senior, or a man with a woman.

Such “cross-fertilization” is more likely to occur when it’s planned. That’s what regularly happens in small Mastermind groups with a mixture of people and in “Knowledge Cafes” where participants take what they’ve learned at one table, then share that with new people at other tables.

The principle is this: Pollination is more likely to occur when an event like a business mixer event has a variety of people. Not birds of a feather gathering together, but birds of different feathers.

The most satisfying experiences of my professional life as a university professor of communication came from interacting with colleagues of different disciplines such as philosophy, religion, anthropology, psychology, linguistics, music, and art. I did not want to remain only in my own “silo” of thought, and I was greatly enriched by interacting with a variety of others.

So I ask you: How and where can you apply the methods described above?

Used with permission of Dr. Loren Ekroth, publisher of “Better Conversations” newsletter. Complimentary subscriptions at www.conversationmatters.com

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