Employment Situation

Prepare Your Phone Screen Playbook to Get to the Next Level

Phone screens are like open book tests. You have to have the right playbook for it to help you. Otherwise it’s like copying off the person who never scores higher than a D. You could have gotten a D all on your own without even trying. What’s the point of that?

Firstly, understand that there’s probably more research to do than you think. Don’t try cramming all in one night. You’ll want to have all of your notes together and organized prior to the night before.

Even if you can refer to your notes, you still want to know them well enough to know which parts to reference based on the questions. You won’t have a lot of control over what questions are asked and in what order. So if you’re fumbling while trying to find the right response to a question, your heart will start ticking like a clock with each second that passes. That’s not the state of mind that performs best. You’ll have to manage the interview a bit like a dance you’re not leading, so stay agile.

As soon as you know you’ll have an interview, start researching. Cross reference what you find out about a company with what you want in your next opportunity. Anywhere there is a gap between what you want and what you can find out online, make a note of that item. This will be your agenda for pre-interview calls with your interviewer. Start a company report, and then copy and paste information on key people, values, initiatives, industry challenges, etc. Go way deeper than just looking at the company’s website. I recommend creating a Google alert on the company and key people, especially the person who would be your direct supervisor and/or your interviewer.

Try to find these key people on social media, especially Twitter where it seems people reveal more about their opinions and values. Note if they are married/single, have kids, love to travel certain places, have an obvious political inclination, have hobbies, enjoy certain artists or shows, etc. Even though you won’t necessarily use this information to build a personal report, it will certainly help you to keep this personal information in the back of your mind. If they’ve shared any of this information on LinkedIn or in their Twitter handle, then it’s pretty public and could be free game. The data points you find when digging deeper should be kept to yourself otherwise it could come off as too private and creepy.

Even if you don’t discuss your findings directly, having an idea of a person’s interests and personality can still help you build trust. Are they private, conservative, do they have a sense of adventure, what are their values? What qualities do they admire? What companies and influencers do they follow (consider quoting one)? All of this considered, just remember – don’t try to be something that you’re not! That never works out well in the end. However, if you genuinely have something in common with the interviewer, you may see an opportunity to take advantage of that. It may sound dirty, but people prefer to work with people they like and trust, and having things in common can be a trust signal.

Next, have at least one achievement story for each top quality, experience, method, or talent that distinguishes you from the competition. Connect the dots between your distinctive value, the problems, challenges and initiatives of the target company/hiring manager, and what you have been able to achieve in your employment history. If you’re asked to walk through your experience, make sure you highlight the themes of what makes you the best candidate. For instance, if you’ve always been great at identifying market trends, walk your interviewer through a highlight reel describing the specific times you succeeded at doing just that. These themes should be related to what will make a candidate successful in the role. If you can validate your aptitude early on in the phone screen, do that.

Have answers and stories prepared, but don’t write them out like an article. Make an outline, cutting out as many extra words as possible. This should look more like bulleted talking points, like a politician uses before a debate or media appearance. Boldface key phrases and points that you definitely want to relay.

Another tip is to determine which questions make you most nervous and figure out why! Are you scared of revealing something? Chances are that fear will be picked up by your interviewer, even over the phone. If they sense there’s a potential risk in your fear, they’ll either dig deeper, or let it go but this uncertainty won’t really be gone. It will be lingering in their mind as an unknown variable that leaves a gaping hole for another candidate to surpass you in the process.

Practice the KISS principal when it comes to these questions (keep it simple, stupid.) Don’t go into an elaborate story – there is a time and a place for elaborating, but this isn’t the time to risk the interviewer getting caught up in details. Understand what the risk is from the employer’s perspective. If discussing a time you made a mistake, the most reassuring way to approach the situation is to own your mistake and the impact that it had. Then, move on to demonstrating how you’ve worked on never making that mistake again. It may seem risk to admit an error, but you’ll come across as genuine, which is much easier to trust than someone who never admits to making mistakes.

Finally, if the interview question has to do with conflicts between yourself and coworkers, vendors, clients or your boss, stick to facts that all objective parties would agree upon. Don’t chronicle all events, but rather share only the relevant ones that help you make a case for your character, skills, and/or problem solving abilities. If you have to recount a specific conversation, be sure to recall the exact words that were said. Again, if you misread the situation, point out your revelation and how you would handle it now that you have more wisdom. If the situation repeated itself but with your new awareness you handled it better, take the opportunity to briefly share that story.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you ace your phone screening as well as your subsequent interviews. Remember there are steps you can take to prepare yourself for questions that will likely be asked of you. Additionally, take the time to research and get a feel for the work culture of the company you’re applying to and get familiar with the personality style of your interviewer. If you employ these tips on your next phone screening, please feel free to share how they helped you in the comments section.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012) – Music Video: Alabama Shakes “Always Alright”

Pre-listen: Soundtrack Snippets of Danny Elfman’s “Silver Linings Playbook” @ http://www.chongweikk.com/2012/11/soundtrack-snippets-of-danny-elfmans.html ******* Lyrics: Well you come up stairs in the night to talk Stay a little while then you do a little walk on home I hear you downstairs smoking cigerettes, I hear your talking shit Cuz you aint got

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

When A New Guy Gets Your Promotion

I have not counted how many times over the past 13 years someone has come to me to help them move up or out after their company hired a new guy for the position that they felt was their next move upward. If I had to guess, I’d say about 100.

Of them, some have only wished that their supervisor would have thought about them and recommended them for the job, but never actually verbalized their desire or made attempts to understand if there were knowledge gaps they needed to fill.

Then there are a portion of them who had made their ambitions quite clear, but felt it was a natural progression, not as if there were gaps in knowledge or experience that they needed to fill in order to be qualified for the next level up.

In both of these scenarios, a short and long-term solution is to coach the individuals to be appropriately assertive and proactive in seeking understanding about what is really needed in order to be ready for the next step up.

The first stage is always qualifying that it is, in fact, the right next step. Too many people become managers because that seems like, or is presented as, the only way to move up. This leads to a large number of managers who have neither the desire nor the training to know how to motivate and inspire engagement and performance. They then usually resort to being taskmasters, micromanagers and even tyrants. They are responsible for a team of people to meet numbers and use fear as a tool because their tool kit is limited. This becomes a vicious cycle, as one manager trains the next and on up they go, unconsciously creating a toxic culture.

Please, if you aspire to be a corporate leader, learn how to use inspiration, trust, recognition, self-awareness, accountability and mobility as tools. Then practice them under the guidance of a coach to influence from wherever you are now, and brand yourself internally and externally as a leader.

In yet a third scenario, the professional has been as proactive and assertive as possible to procure performance feedback and identify and fill knowledge gaps. However due to any number of reasons – politics, nepotism, vendettas, a complete failure on a leader’s part to thoroughly prepare team members for promotion, or failure on the professional’s part to make accomplishments visible – promotions still go to someone else.

In all three scenarios, branding would be a smart next step. However, only in the third scenario would I suggest an all-out strategic campaign to change companies.

In the meantime, operate under the assumption that this new person might be better at something than you, and find out what it is. You will most certainly know better than them the inner workings of your company. Befriend the new guy, ask for opportunities to show him or her the ropes, and show everyone that you do have what it takes to take on more.

Think back to when you were a new person and think about the things that you learned in your first 90 days that made a difference in your results, and I’m not talking about what you learned about the other people you work with.

Don’t be that guy that warns the new guy about office gossip, or the hardhead, or the ego maniac. These are opinions, even if multiple people share them. All the new guy will think is that you are judgmental and they will be wary to trust you. Stick with the facts and note when something you pass on is a subjective observation, like “The boss prefers that all KPIs are blue in the weekly report.”

I don’t think I have to tell people to not be a saboteur to the new guy, but it does happen. It can be tempting to want the boss to see they made a mistake by not giving you the promotion, but that’s not the outcome that is usually produced by being a saboteur. In fact, more often than not, it just confirms that you were not the right person for the promotion.

Start becoming more aware of when your ego is kicking in and make it a habit to start switching into your higher self – your higher self is the one that gets promotions, not your ego.

Sometimes it happens that a promotion was not granted due to timing. In an ideal world, open communication and accurate foresight would enable an employee and supervisor to have a frank, two-way conversation about the real expectations of a promotion – the hours, the responsibility, the travel, and the pressures. The employee would be able to discuss the changes with any personal stakeholders, like family members, who would be impacted by any changes in lifestyle and make the decision that is best for everyone, even if that means giving up a significant raise.

This is not an ideal world. With about half of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, extreme increases in the cost of living (when you include the technology needed to get by today, not to mention keeping up with the Jones’), increasing healthcare costs, higher education debt, and the perception of shortages of opportunity even though it is a job seeker’s market, whether it’s the right next step or not, few people would turn down a promotion. If an employee has personal things going on that a manager feels may interfere with being able to meet the expectations, that frank conversation may never happen. I do not condone this – this is just a far too common reality.

External candidates are sometimes chosen over internal candidates because managers know too much about the internal candidate’s life.

Have you endured or are you about to face a big life change? Have you missed days to deal with something personal? Has it become a trend?

It can feel unfair. It can feel like neglect, abandonment, or misfortune. It can also sometimes be a blessing. In a few of the cases I have mentioned above with prospective clients, the professional wound up needing that time to adequately deal with a major life change. While, of course, I am all about supporting people in moving up, over, or out, sometimes staying put is what works best at the time. Not aspiring to achieve more in your career in order to manage life is totally okay and it doesn’t have to be permanent. However, you will need to make it known if and when your aspirations change and you want to get back on a growth trajectory.

In most cases, getting passed up for a promotion was the impetus of change that led my clients to far greater happiness and fulfillment – the kick in the pants they needed to start taking control of their career direction.

If you want to know more about how to:

• Assess what the best next step in your career is
• Develop greater self-awareness to become more promotable
• Gain additional tools that will expand your influence and leadership
• Communicate assertively and confidently with your supervisor
• Be the person that gets thought of first for a promotion, even if you previously needed to stay still for a while
• Brand or rebrand yourself for what’s next in your career and what’s after that

Scheduling a free consultation is your next step.

Survivor – The Search Is Over (Official Music Video)

Survivor’s official music video for ‘The Search Is Over’. Click to listen to Survivor on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/SurvSpot?IQid=SurvTSIO As featured on Ultimate Survivor.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Epic CEO LinkedIn Profiles: Poised to Attract Today’s Top Talent

It might be tempting to believe that the best practices being touted by LinkedIn and LinkedIn experts don’t apply to the C-suite if you look at many C-suite profiles.

It might appear as though the standard bio goes where the summary is, and that 3rd person is the best point-of-view.

It might seem as though it’s not advisable to alter the headline from the default “Position at Company” format to utilize the 120 characters and say more.

You might infer that it’s excessive to write summaries for each past position, or at least the more recent ones.

It might seem scary to divert from what seems to be the norm.

I really had a hard time finding a CEO profile that abided by all of the current LinkedIn profile optimization best practices, so I can understand how my clients flinch a bit when they see their profiles in all their branded glory. Do they dare to shine too brightly? To be so bold?

I work with them to meet them in the middle. They are the ones who have to speak to their content, though at the same time I coach them to expand their comfort zone and adopt more current practices. Best practices are based on what is being learned about how humans make decisions. It is based on eye tests, split tests, neuroscience, and crowd-sourcing.

I’ve been considered a LinkedIn expert as long as there have been LinkedIn experts, but my niche is hiring and careering using free features (not that I haven’t also used premium services). Personal, executive, and employment branding are my specialties.

Much like in 2003 when I had to do a fair amount of educating recruiters and human resources professionals on the merits of using LinkedIn, I now have to make sure that I explain to my clients that what I produce may not resemble the majority of what they see, because most profiles on the platform are still not optimized according to the best practices of LinkedIn experts and LinkedIn itself.

There are some “best practices” that are solely subjective, like whether or not to use the first person. It’s a bit jarring for my clients to see content written by me in their voice. In most cases, it will sound a lot more boastful than they are used to speaking. I always err on the bold side, and then work with them to get it to a level they feel confident backing up, while at the same time expanding their comfort zone so that they can convert profile visitors into connections who have a sense of urgency to get acquainted.

Since it’s become a job seeker’s market, and following corporate headlines of executive leaders who went down in flames for feeling as though they were “above the law” or “untouchable,” job seekers demand to know who their leaders are – authentically. And, justifiably. When most professionals you speak to have been laid off at some point or another, and that is usually traceable back to executive decisions and strategy, or lack thereof, it makes a lot of sense to hedge your bets and make sure that the company you devote your talents and time to will be around, able to employ you, and able to provide benefits and salary increases for years to come.

The market is back-lashing against “ivory tower” leaders. Stats around CEO to front-line employee salary disparities are being fed to conscious capitalists who want to see the money they spend go more to the people struggling to make ends meet, in spite of working hard, and less to executives with large estates, bonuses, and retirement funds. Modern-day employment branding is aimed to make executives appear and be more accessible to talent. An optimized profile written in the first person along with regular, personalized status updates demonstrates a willingness to be vulnerable, approachable, and relatable, depending on what you are sharing. Of course, if what you share reveals biases, greed, ego and a superiority complex, it can also have the opposite effect. You will be challenged allowing any shred of personality to come through if you write in the 3rd person.

Many profiles switch from 1st or 3rd person, using pronouns, to “résumé speak,” in which pronouns are removed. There is no clear benefit to doing this. It is a missed opportunity to tell stories in your own voice about the past experiences that have shaped who you are as a professional, how you do things, and how this enables you to do things better and differently than other professionals who may also be seeking out the kind of support you or your company provides. It’s a missed opportunity to let your passion come through and show how much you have learned, grown and developed. It may make you seem less relatable.

Whatever point-of-view you choose to write your profile in, just make sure you use a consistent voice in your summary and your experience details. It helps keep the focus on the content and your value and experience.

As for using your bio as your summary, most biographies are written to chronicle your previous education, companies, roles, volunteer experience, publications, etc. This would be redundant to the information that is already in your profile, assuming you have entered your work history, education, honors, and volunteer experience. Redundancy is great for keywords, and it will help you rise up to the top of search results, though repeating keywords without context around them is not an effective way to compel your audience to take the next step.

Speaking of showing up in search results, if you are the CEO of a prestigious company, people may be compelled to click on your profile for that reason alone. But to presume that because you are a CEO at a company people will feel compelled to click on your name and check out your profile is a bit presumptuous. Remember, there are more jobs available than there are candidates. Even if you do little hiring in your role as CEO, you are a primary employment brand representative. Give people a little more. Identify a primary value or outcome you and your company produce. What is your mission? What drives you? Who do you love to help?

You don’t have to share anything too personal to be interesting.

The basis for how I have evolved my branding and profile-writing process has solely to do with cause and effect. Will your profile content have the same effect on each person visiting your profile? No. We aren’t looking for 100% conversion here. It doesn’t exist.

Even when the audience is a company, there is still a human decision maker at the other end of the screen. What is the benefit of having a profile that is just like everyone else’s? Effective marketing requires interrupting people’s attention, and then once you have it, saying something that resonates on an emotional, visceral level, and then backing that up with data, aka measurable outcomes. You can be both credible and likable.

I literally searched LinkedIn for 3 hours looking for a good C-level profile that leveraged all of the above best practices, and this is not by any means an exhaustive list. I did find a few profiles that had bits and pieces. If you believe you’ve hit all the marks with your LinkedIn profile, comment below so we can check you out.

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The following CEO profiles have strong summaries, but lack previous experience details that tell us a story about how and why they got to where they are now:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/viktorohnjec/

linkedin.com/in/sarablakely27

Melinda Gates is breaking down barriers in her summary, too, by presenting herself as a human being. She also has the kind of activity and experience details that humanize her – one of the wealthiest women on the planet.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/melindagates/

Leave it to a CEO who is also a marketing expert to complete and optimize their LinkedIn profile using best practices:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshdetweiler/

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Don’t follow the herd of executives under-leveraging LinkedIn and failing to complete and/or optimize their profiles according to current best practices. Lead the rest to the promise land, where people get back to inspiring each other to collaborate, engage, partner and innovate.

I’m also welcoming to other opinions on best practices, as long as the debate remains respectful and civil. Make your case.

Sly & The Family Stone – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

No copyright infringement intended. All copyrights belong to their original owners. Musical Videos and accompanying photos posted on this Channel are for entertainment purposes only. Reproduced solely for the listening pleasure of true music lovers. Sly and the Family Stone was formed in 1967, in San Francisco.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

5 Ways to Reclaim Your Power in Your Job Search or Career

Humans have a primal need to be heard, acknowledged, and appreciated.  The job search process, even working, can give people quite the opposite experience. Putting yourself out there, crossing your fingers, and hoping that someone likes you enough to talk to is degrading.

The default mode of job seeking is reactive; you see a job opening posted, then you follow the instructions on the platform or in the job description to apply. You then get funneled in with all the other applications and hope that it is received and that your value is appealing enough to get an invitation to take next steps. The ball is in the other court this whole time.

But statistics show that we are in a very strong job-seekers market. There have been more job openings in the US than unemployed workers for a good year now.

How can that be? Wouldn’t that mean that all applicants would get a fair chance? No. Of course, you need a strong résumé, rich with keywords used in context to demonstrate your qualifications. However, using your résumé purely as a tool for job applications is a disempowered strategy.

There are things that you can do to make things happen in your job search, and you may not believe that it’s true until it happens to you. This means that you should experiment. Give a few, or all of these tactics a try and allow yourself 3 weeks of dedicated effort in job searching. During this time, stop spending your time on reactive activities such as scouring job boards and applying online. If something pays off with an introduction, interview, or offer, keep doing it and abandon what hasn’t been successful.

I’ll bet you’ll like how it feels to know that you can not only generate leads that you would never have found on Indeed, but that you can also get others to generate leads for you and multiply your results without multiplying your time. Generate leads, generate momentum, and then have your choice of position rather than only being able to consider those jobs that you found on job boards when everyone else is vying for the same jobs.

I’ll bet one of the methods below will lead you to have an interview for an opportunity that outside job seekers don’t even know about yet. All of the methods below have worked for my clients, so they have already been proven to succeed.

In order to make this work optimally, you will need*:

  • A branded résumé that not only qualifies you, but makes your unique value evident.
  • A complete, branded LinkedIn profile written in 1st person that supplements and compliments your résumé (not replicates it) and shows that you are a dynamic, interesting person outside of your work as well.
  • A target list of at least 25 companies that have cultures that will enable you to thrive – this activity will lead to positive momentum, and an acceptable job offer if you’re not wasting time making progress with companies where you ultimately would not want to work. THIS LIST IS NOT BASED ON JOB POSTINGS YOU’VE SEEN. This might sound counter-intuitive, but the point of these proactive efforts is to pursue organizations based on their fit to you, not whether they have an opening for you!

* If you don’t have all three of the following, schedule a free consultation with me.

1. Volunteer

It’s not always easy finding opportunities to volunteer, as strange as that sounds. I was new in business when I first started volunteering and I pursued well-known organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross, but opportunities seemed to be targeted at organized groups, not individuals. I spoke with a client who was also involved in local government and asked about opportunities in the community. Because of that, I wound up being a race marshal and handing out water to runners at a couple of 5Ks. These were great opportunities, and they got me started, but I didn’t meet anyone, and it wasn’t always clear when I showed up of how I was going to help. Sometimes I took it upon myself to help out in the best way I could, and then found out I was doing it wrong. This was still good experience for me, and you need to remember that some organizations are better at volunteer training than others.

But, it doesn’t matter how you start. Just start. If you’ve been undervalued at your job or you have been transitioning for a while, it is easy to forget why you are so valuable. Being helpful in any way can remind you of your value. It doesn’t always create a direct line to opportunity, but it can potentially. It’s led to many opportunities for me and my clients. Check out opportunities at volunteermatch.org. See what non-profits leaders in your target companies support. Ask avid networkers you know where movers and shakers they know volunteer their time and talents.

In past articles, I encouraged you to volunteer at professional organization events, like volunteering to speak on a topic within your expertise that can help other professionals be more successful, or you can pick a cause for which you have passion. If you spend your free time worrying about a problem, you’ll gain power by doing something about it.

Volunteering is something you’ll want to add to your LinkedIn profile and it something that can look favorable to companies that value and promote community and social impact. Also, it’s much harder to validate that you are passionate about something if you aren’t spending time in it or doing it. You know you are passionate when you would spend your time doing something whether you are paid or not. Everyone says they’re passionate, volunteering proves it.

2. Approach letters

If you have a cover letter template, scrap it. I’m not talking about a cover letter that you attach to your online application, which can be a way to find out if you have strong written communication skills. I’m talking about a letter of interest that you send directly to your would-be direct supervisor in your target company. The qualification for who receives it is NOT based on the recipient having a posted job opening, but if the company has a need, challenge, or initiative that you can bolster by being part of the team. This is not a request for a job, but rather a request to talk further about the company’s future plans and how you can support them. It’s more like you are a consultant who is trying to identify whether you offer a skill or service that this company needs, but you do your homework ahead of time and drop some bread crumbs that entice the recipient to know what the recipe is.

The letter must explicitly lay out what you know about the company, and how that implicates your added value. Connect the dots between the problem and how you have added value to such endeavors in the past. The call to action is to invite the recipient to a 20-minute discovery call, just to see if what you offer is a match for what they need.

Even if you are committed to a full-time permanent opportunity, position yourself as someone flexible about terms. This also communicates that you are confident that you can add value in the short term.  While you are there adding short-term value, you can gain insights that enable you to pitch a long-term value proposition.  Make yourself indispensable, and you will have the leverage to ask for all the perks and benefits of a full-time employee, plus a signing bonus. This will require you to do some market research on an hourly rate that will help you cover costs an employer would normally cover, plus self-employment tax for working as a sole proprietor.

This approach requires being bold. Fortune favors the bold, in case you hadn’t heard. If your confidence isn’t quite there yet, volunteer your skills to a non-profit and add value until you feel confident moving forward. Again, this is an experiment, so try this with about 5 companies.

3. Take on a leadership role in a professional or community organization

60% of recruiters are specifically looking for this kind of engagement through your social media. It takes a village to run successful events and programs.

There are steps that lead to engaging as a leader in an organization. You don’t just jump right into it.

Step 1 – Observe. Check out several organizations to determine which one has the kind of people, programs, and mission statement that resonate with your career mission.

Step 2 – Join. Attend regular meetings where you will naturally become more acquainted with other members and the breadth of what is offered.

Step 3 – Volunteer. Many organizations crave doing more, but they need the manpower to do it. Look for the board names on the organization’s website. Ask them what initiatives they have tabled because of lack of manpower, or what additional help they could use to make their events and programs even better. If that doesn’t fit what you do, make a referral and keep looking for opportunities. Remember to follow up frequently. Many of these organizations are full of people who have other full-time obligations and won’t easily remember who offered what help.

Step 4 – Lead. Once you get to see events and programs from the inside you’ll better understand the undertaking of running them. It’s a natural progression to lead one event or get involved in the organization’s operations and strategy or do both. It comes with visibility, but is not without its conflicts – even the best organizations. It’s how conflicts are handled that will influence how long you remain involved in the organization, I have found.

4. LinkedIn outreach

Just to be clear, outreach is not the same as clicking on “send invite” for all of the people LinkedIn suggests or who appear in a search. That’s as good as spam; your low success rates will deceive you into thinking that people are not looking to connect on LinkedIn when that is exactly why they are on LinkedIn. People only make progress through REAL connections, not superficial ones. This means having shorter, well-vetted lists and custom invitations. You can increase your chances of having your invitation accepted if 1) the person you’re inviting to connect to is actually active on LinkedIn and 2) you engage with that person’s content.  The first step is to follow this person. This will be an option if they are active. (If they aren’t, see the next item on the list.)

Once you follow someone, you are notified when they engage on other people’s content as well as when they create and share their own. It matters little which you engage with, but if it is other’s people content, respond directly to their comment on it. If it is their original content, share it, tag them, and take care to write something insightful that will inspire others to give their content some love and attention. Then send them a customized invitation to connect, making mention of how much you appreciated their content.

Just like the approach letter, the goal is to take that initial connection to the next step, and connect offline via phone call, video chat, or in-person meeting.  Initially, just ask for 20 minutes. The point is to determine if there is enough synergy to invest more time. Make sure you have 5 good, specific questions based on their background that can help you understand who they are, where they’ve been and how they got “here.” Also, make sure you ask the #1 most important question – what introductions, resources, or support would help move your most important projects forward faster? Don’t just ask generally, “How can I help you?” This is a burdensome question. How could they know what you can do to help? Find out first what they want most, and then tell them how you can help. Also, deliver your call to action, which will help them self-identify that they are someone you are qualified to help.

This works! First, target people in your focus company, but do it also with other professionals in your field, fellow alumni, thought leaders, authors, and influencers.

5. Try a brand new platform

Recruiters are taught to go where the talent is. So, whenever a platform gains popularity, recruiters are tasked to evaluate how it can be leveraged to get in front of talent where other recruiters are not. It might surprise you to know that because of this, 63% of recruiters in tech companies are using Instagram.  That’s just recruiters, though. If they’re looking for talent here, could your future supervisor be also?

Marketers are always looking at ways that they can catch consumers in the flow of their day and interrupt their attention with messages that resonate. Where is your future supervisor hanging out? This may take a bit of research, and the findings may be very different from target to target.

I have had clients say “Twitter is stupid,” but they suspended their skepticism and tried it because a simple search showed that their targets were active with personal and company handles. If you are involved with an organization that uses Slack, try it out. There’s a learning curve to any new platform, but a good three weeks will get you comfortable enough to leverage it. Just like organizations, observe first, then engage. Try a few different things.

Other platforms are meetup.org, Reddit, Quora, Snapchat, Musical.ly, AngelList, f6s, and I’m sure you’ll find some Listservs and Yahoo groups that are still being used. There are abundantly more platforms and there will continue to be more. You don’t have to learn them all, but if you find out that people you know, respect, and would want to work for are on them, get familiar.

Companies have needs well before they have formally posted job openings. This is the “hidden job market” you may have heard about but weren’t sure existed. It exists, and it’s a gold mine of opportunity for those who can unlock it. The best part is that the hidden job market is where you are the driver of opportunity. Once you know how to access it, there’s no unknowing it, but you might fall back into reactive job searching if you don’t make it a habit.

Once you find one or two methods that work for you and your target employer audience, dedicate most of your job search time to it. Abandon what disempowers you and fails to generate opportunity.

Then the challenge shifts to keeping track of all of that momentum. You’ll spend more time in meetings, interviews, and negotiations, and there will be little time for job boards and online applications, anyway.

Because of that, you’ll want to be very selective from that point forward on what companies and leaders you invest time getting to know better.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to spend more time doing the things you love.

The success will be a natural motivator, so you won’t have to push yourself every day to make efforts.

You may even start to enjoy creating career opportunity so much that you form habits that you maintain during your employment and you’ll never have to be out of work ever again.

That’s power!

Snap – I ve Got The power

“The Power” is an electronic pop hit song by the German music group Snap! from their album World Power. It was released in January 1990 and reached number-one in the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, as well as the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Rap charts.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Networking 401 for the Network-Disabled: Following Up 

If you have experienced moments as I described in posts from previous weeks (Networking 101, Networking 201, Networking 301), such as fears of being imposing, too aggressive, not interesting enough, etc., then following up will potentially, if not certainly, trigger more thoughts of the same.

Even if you felt as though there was a strong rapport and that the person seemed genuinely interested in connecting again, analysis paralysis can strike and cause procrastination, which may present in full-blown failure to follow up. This stage is where you determine the return on your investment of time, energy, and occasionally money, in your networking endeavors.

I’ve been prone to overthinking when needing to follow up, even though I’m consciously aware that the best practice is to follow up the next day while people’s memories are still fresh. If someone you met was wildly popular, I’d wait a couple of days for the eager beavers to filter through.

If you find yourself unable to follow up promptly, don’t abandon hope that you’ll be able to generate opportunity because you are late. Like being serendipitously late to an event, sometimes delays can benefit you. 

Firstly, if when you first met you mentioned a resource, introduction, or information that you thought would be immediately helpful, deliver it. Then ask the person to schedule a follow-up call or meeting. If you’re not able to deliver, then at least update them. Perhaps a follow-up conversation would help you deliver better.

The objective, once you have met someone digitally or in real life, is to allocate more time to get better acquainted. This can look like a lot of things, some of which you may even enjoy!  We are all time-starved. Rather than resorting to an email, where most people I know are over-flooded with incoming communications, see if there is a medium that is already a part of the person’s daily, weekly, or monthly flow – someplace they’ll already be, but where their attention isn’t diverted to too many other demands. 

WHERE TO FOLLOW UP:

In real life

If you both mentioned a love of hiking or some other activity, tie that into your next plans. Perhaps there is a group hike you can both attend where you can not only get to know each other better, but can also help each other meet other people.  

When one person I was introduced to told me that she couldn’t talk on a Tuesday because she was attending a flower show that I also had considered attending, I suggested we meet there. And we did. And we wound up spending a whole day together appreciating flowers and flower artisans. We were also able to write that flower show off as work expenses, along with the expenses of getting there. 

If this person works or lives somewhere near you or somewhere you want to go, you can double leverage your time and schedule other activities or errands, let them know and offer to go when they have time to meet. 

On social media

Perhaps personal interests didn’t come up. Do a bit of personal research. See what you can discern from social media. If you met someone and only talked business, invite them to connect on LinkedIn, but not Facebook or Instagram (unless their business is on Instagram.) You may not be on Twitter, but I have found that people who tweet regularly tend to divulge personal opinions you may not see them sharing on other social media.  If you think your audience isn’t using Twitter – think again. It takes but a minute to check. If they are on Twitter and tweet daily, this is the best way to catch them in the flow of their day.  

If you send a LinkedIn invitation to someone, you only have 300 characters. Not everyone is active on LinkedIn. If you see that your contact has only a few connections, little content in their profile, and no recent activity, they may not see your invitation for a while, if at all.  If this is the case, use a backup method. 

Phone/Texting

How many times do you answer your phone when you don’t know the number calling? Rarely, I’d bet, unless you are a busy salesperson. The art of calling people has really become the art of leaving a message. The rules are simple: don’t be a telemarketer. 

Often when I leave a message, I let the other person know that they can respond via text to let me know their availability to speak. I may also let them know that I will follow up with an email or LinkedIn message (if I know they use it daily). This gives them options to respond in a way that is most convenient for them. 

Video Conference

Though I don’t prefer it because when I don’t have meetings scheduled I like to save time by staying in leisure clothes (okay, pajamas), I accommodate requests to video chat because there is something deeper about looking at someone when you talk. It can be a bit awkward, however, with delays, cameras that don’t line up with your eyesight (so you look like you’re looking elsewhere), and technical difficulties.  It’s still the next best thing to meeting in person, and you don’t have to take time to travel anywhere (just to get camera-ready.)

All of the above

Ideally, somehow you are tracking all of your networking outreach efforts. (We have a toolkit for that). I suggest trying a variety of social media outlets. You may find success with one method where others have failed.  

HOW TO FOLLOW UP:

KISS

Write or say a sentence that reminds the person how and where you met, and why you decided to follow up, specifically how you think you can help each other. 

The logistics of making time to network are challenging for most people. You can make this easy and minimize the time needed to exchange communications just to schedule by sharing a scheduling link. Calend.ly offers free accounts where you can sync with your other calendars and provide people with a link that lets them book right on your schedule. Networking meetings by phone require 20 minutes. You may upgrade your account to also offer happy hour or coffee/lunch meetings that would be longer. You may also give them a choice between the two, but that’s not quite as simple. 

Yes, everyone has to eat. You can make that point. We all know, however, that eating takes much longer when you combine it with talking, so you turn a 30-minute lunch easily into a 90-minute lunch.

Add value

Send an article, information, event registration link, RFP link, LinkedIn profile link, or something else you suspect will be of value based on your brief meeting. 

HOW OFTEN/LONG TO FOLLOW UP:

12-call rule

I have had sales training that taught me that, statistically, it can take a salesperson 12 calls before securing a sale. Thinking about it, I believe I have worked with vendors who were patiently persistent, special emphasis on the “patiently.” If you have someone who has explicitly expressed an interest in what you offer, give them every chance you can to follow through. 

5-touch rule

Even for general networking, I would say that five attempts to contact someone are sufficient and that often four falls short. As explained by all of the above methods, don’t make touch-base using the same media every time. Maximize your chances of interrupting someone’s attention by using first what you think they use most often, but where you aren’t competing with many others for their attention. At least one of these methods should be a call. 

On the last attempt, just as a courtesy to them and out of consideration of their time, let them know it’s the last attempt. You probably wouldn’t believe how often I have seen this work. In fact, to quote contacts that I have reached out to on the 5th contact, as well as many other clients who I recommended follow through with one last (5th) attempt, the contacts said that they “appreciated the persistence.” Truly – people want to help. Everyone’s time and energy is being pulled by different priorities. Making that 5th attempt is a way to acknowledge that someone genuinely wants to connect/help/be helped, but has other priorities which you can empathize with. 

MISCELLANEOUS TIPS:

Target Company Sponsors and Informants

When one of your contacts has inside knowledge or influence to increase your chances of getting an interview (based on need, not necessarily a formal job posting,) do your homework before you take their time. Come up with five to seven questions, each of which your contact can answer in a minute or less. I suggest comparing what you learn about a company, opportunity, and boss with a set list of 25-50 criterions, including some must-haves and some ideal (jackpot) criteria.  Whatever you can’t determine through online research is potentially something you can learn from your contact. 

Someone willing to help you by giving you insight may or may not be willing to help you by getting your résumé to the hiring manager. Be direct in your request – “Would you be willing to make an introduction to the Director of Technology?” OR “I’ve tried applying already. Would you be willing to send my résumé directly to the hiring manager?” OR “Do you know who the hiring manager is on this?” I recommend you also ask if their company has a referral bonus program and if you can use their name as the person who referred you. 

Some may say “no” based their perceived influence, or lack thereof, their lack of relationship, or lack of access to the hiring manager. Some companies have policies that prevent this. It’s not always about their willingness to help. Again, be empathetic here. If they can’t help you by sponsoring you (being the source of your referral into the company or introducing you to the hiring manager), ask them how most of the people who are hired make their way in, NOT the best way to apply. Applying always implies a website these days; that’s the answer you’ll get. 

Respect people’s time/schedule

If you say you are only asking for XX minutes, make sure that you only take XX minutes. Keep your eye on the time and let them know when you only have a couple of minutes left. If by the end of that time you feel that you have only scratched the surface, suggest that you pick a new time right then and there to continue the conversation, and suggest that you allocate more time next time, and perhaps combine it with a meal or activity. 

Tickler

The same way I hope you are tracking your outreach activities and contacts, I hope that you have a way to remind yourself to follow up with people every so often. Within the month of your follow up meeting, then every three months is a good best practice, but not always possible. Some people you may not follow up with for another 6 months. Make a note of when their busy season is and try to avoid following up then.  

This is the last article in the Networking for the Networking-Disabled series. If you have not read those, click on the following links: Networking 101, Networking 201, Networking 301.

I hope that you are inspired and feel better prepared to start expanding your sphere of influence and fulfillment.  It does get more comfortable the more you do it, and you’ll definitely feel more motivated once you have some great outcomes resulting from your efforts. Imagine those outcomes now. What kind of magic do you want networking to make possible in your life?

Blondie – Call Me (Official Video)

Official video of Blondie performing Call Me from the soundtrack of the movie American Gigolo. #Blondie #CallMe #Vevo

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Networking 301 for the Network-Disabled: Creating Magic in the Moment

Allow me to recap some important lessons from Networking 101 and Networking 201 on networking for the network-disabled:

#1. Networking, at its best, is not a means to an end; it’s a life-enriching exercise that allows you to find and build relationships with people you like, care to know better, want to see more often, want to support, and who want to support you too. It’s about quality, not quantity.

#2. Networking beginners can ease their way into networking and get great results by finding groups whose purpose is in creating connections, or social or special-interest related groups where there is a shared vision, mission, or hobby. 

#3. In order to optimally leverage your network to create opportunity, inform them on how your uniqueness creates hard business value and emotional benefits, AND demonstrate your value by creating an opportunity for them. [A formula and question script was provided last week.]

#4. Making new connections does not mean you have to ditch your old ones.

#5. Go to events with an idea of who you want to talk to, what you might ask/say, and what outcome you want most, but stay open to unexpected experiences and people, too.

Now let’s start with a new lesson:

Being magnetic in a moment is a reflection of how well you have cared for and valued yourself. 

No matter how comfortable you try to make networking as a beginner, it still requires you to be vulnerable, open, and brave.  With practice and reinforcement of positive results, you will build confidence, naturally be open to trying more new things, and become more immune to people who are not receptive. Until then, self-doubts you have are most likely going to emerge, and you will have to consciously overcome them. 

They show up in the following ways:

  • Beforehand when you look through who are attending, speaking, and sponsoring, and you question if/why any of these people would really want to speak with you. 
  • As you are mentally rehearsing it going exactly as you want it to, but remember previous awkward moments and wonder if you’ll be able to pull off being cool or if they’ll see right through you.
  • When logistics of going or arriving on time get complicated or screwed up and you wonder if the universe is trying to tell you to stay home so you can save yourself from some disastrous experience.
  • As you arrive and realize you forgot the names of the people you want to meet and what you prepared to say. 
  • When you spot the person you want to meet, but they are surrounded by other people vying for his or her attention and you wonder, again, why you would be of any interest among all those other people and what you could possibly say to make yourself memorable among them.
  • As you leave, even though you might feel proud and happy with new connections you made, you start to review your conversations over again in your head, wondering if you said something offensive, if you used the wrong word, said the wrong name, or if they’ll find out you really don’t know as much about something as you tried to make it seem. 
  • When a conversation leans toward opinions on potentially divisive or controversial topics or other people, and you wonder if you’ll put your foot in your mouth.
  • When you go to follow up and you realize that, if this person doesn’t respond, you’ll be wondering what you might have done to turn them off, if you’re likable, or if you came off as negative, uninteresting, needy, nerdy, etc. 

If it sounds like I’ve been there from the level of detail I gave, the answer is, “Oh yes”. And, even though I have a thriving network and have been teaching others how to network now for 13 years, these thoughts still pop up. I have just become better at recognizing them and shutting them down. I also realized that I don’t want to shut them down all the way since I could do quite a bit with self-hypnosis to replace these thoughts with more self-affirming thoughts. Self-affirming thoughts are good, and I believe we could all use more of them. However, my personal growth goal is to become even more emotionally intelligent and self-aware. So, I’d rather be better at distinguishing what I say and do from who I am, and be more conscious of having conversations that enhance rapport and add value.  I also have to know when to leave the past in the past and move on, or I could analyze myself into anxiety. 

I certainly don’t mean to scare you. Knowing ahead of time when lapses in self-confidence can occur enables you to apply some of the following tools to quickly recover and put yourself back in action to make good things happen. 

Tool #1: Breathing

You’ve probably heard this one before, but you could probably benefit from being reminded. It’s simple, but not always easy to remember in the moment. Stress and anxiety are contagious. Taking in deep, slow breaths is the fastest way to calm your thoughts and your nervous system, and to lower your blood pressure. The increase in oxygen to your brain will also enable you to exercise better judgment, minimizing those cringe-worthy moments. Take a little trip to the bathroom or a mini-walk outside, if possible, and notice how much better you feel, which will make people feel better around you.

Tool #2: Affirmations/Mantras

If talking to yourself sounds stupid, remember that you do it anyway. Sometimes what you say to yourself is worse than what you would ever say out loud to anyone else. When you notice those thoughts of self-doubt, replace them with affirmation. For example, if you start to wonder why anyone would want to take time out to return your phone call, literally ask yourself this question, then answer as though you were your biggest fan. “I have great ideas and genuinely care about helping others achieve their goals.” Over time you may notice some thoughts of self-doubt are more frequent than others. Journaling really helps increase your self-awareness of this. Adopt an empowering mantra that you can repeat several times a day every day. 

Tool #3: Your Biofield

There is still so much to learn about the biofield, which is an energetic emittance around our physical body. It has been proven to exist and can be detected and measured by machines, but can’t be seen with the human eye, much like the earth’s atmosphere. Our biofield reacts and responds to other people’s biofields, as observed at a cellular level. Much in the same way anxiety and stress are contagious, so are other emotions. If we want to inspire affection of others, we can heighten our own affection for and connection with others by tuning into those emotions. Take a moment to imagine that pure love is emanating from your heart and reaching out to each and every person in the room. Imagine yourself accepting them with all of their imperfections and qualities, and that they have the capacity to accept you, too. It doesn’t hurt to send out a mental wish as you do this, that the people who want and need you will reveal themselves and make a connection with you.

Tool #4: Humility

Competitive people may find that they get more immediate results by putting themselves in a competitive mindset, but aggressive tactics can backfire in the long run.  I had advised you to create a goal and turn it into a game, but that’s only to infuse fun into the activity. If you put too serious of a game face on, you may muscle some people into taking the next step, but find a lag in follow-through. 

Too much confidence is a known rapport blocker.  Overcompensating for a lack of confidence can be perceived as overconfidence. People will genuinely relate to you more if you don’t pretend to be anything you’re not.  You’re likely to elicit more support and help by admitting that you’re nervous, not sure what to say, or that you’re new to networking.  

If something comes out of your mouth that you wish you hadn’t said, call yourself out on it.  Get yourself back into a high intention. Ask for a re-do. Most people find that people who take accountability for their mistakes are more trustworthy than those who defend themselves.

If it’s too late, learn from it, and leave it in the past. The Hawaiian practice of ho’oponopono has really helped me to stop driving myself crazy with regret and remorse, especially when there’s no opportunity to apologize and make things right. It’s also very simple. Repeat:

I love you 

I’m sorry

I forgive you

Thank you 

Tool #5: Trust 

Trust that the perfect moment will present itself, but in the case it doesn’t, decide on a make or break play. I can hear other coaches now, “No, no, no. They have to make it happen.” Well, let’s call this an experiment. I have found that when I intend to go to something to meet someone and find that many others are vying for their attention, if I force something to happen it feels forced – not genuine or memorable in a good way, and not a great start to deepening a connection. However, if I instead reassure myself that the perfect moment will unfold and decide to enjoy conversations with other people in the meantime, synchronicity is in my favor and, not only do I get to have an interaction with the person, but there is a more welcoming space and context, a more natural flow of conversation, and more enthusiastic and specific follow up that leads to mutual synergy. I’m also calmer and tend to attract better-unexpected connections. 

I tested this at the MindValley Reunion in 2017.  Instead of pushing my way to the front so that I could find a good seat first when they opened the doors to let us in for speakers, I trusted that wherever I was in line, I would find a good seat. I got a front-row seat twice and within the first five rows all except for one time out of six. I also got to meet five of the speakers in serendipitous encounters where no one else was competing for their attention. Vishen even stopped to ask me a question (after he whiffed on my high five – yes – I tried to high five Vishen, and I forgave myself.)

You don’t have to be suave, a world-class conversationalist, or the most interesting person in the world to expand your network. You don’t have to have the noblest of goals to inspire people’s help. You don’t have to be any particular way, any status, or be at any particular stage in your career. You can just be you. Of course, take the steps to be your best you, but everyone has off moments, and they don’t define you. However, the people that you meet have the potential to help you create a life that you do define. If you never take the chance of meeting them, you automatically eliminate that potential. 

Next week, we’ll cover how following up best practices convert momentary magic into long-lasting opportunity. 

Pete Townshend – Let My Love Open The Door (Original)

Pete Townshend – Let My Love Open The Door (Original Video 1980)

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Networking 201 for the Network-Challenged

Last week we talked about how to find great events to begin and expand your comfort zone with networking. 

This week let’s explore what you can do prior to an event that will help you make the most of it.

Let’s assume you were able to identify 5 or 6 great events in the next two weeks that you can attend, and 3 or 4 of them feasibly work with your schedule. 

You have a decision to make right now for some of them with limited attendance and registration cut-off dates.

If they require tickets and you cannot afford to go, as advised last week, contact the organizer(s) to see if they could use an extra volunteer. Once you commit to being a volunteer, show up 15 minutes earlier than you committed to. Follow through, but remember that emergencies happen. Take care of an emergency, but if you say you’ll volunteer and don’t show up, you’ll be lumped into a category of past volunteers who flaked.  In essence, you’re flaky. That’s the opposite impression you want to make.

Not all events require you to commit to going, and I wouldn’t always advise you to be early. Sometimes, it’s best to talk to people when they’re fresh, and sometimes you’ll find that people need some time to warm up and get in the groove. I’ve even showed up to networking events late, which is better than never, and found that the exact person who I wanted to meet was still there and heading to grab a bite to eat, so we did together and accomplished so much.  If you’re just a guest, know that it may not be of consequence to anyone else when you show up. When you show up can be based on what you hope to achieve.

Set your intention. What is the best thing that could happen from you attending this event? Take a moment to visualize it – statistically, this leads to increased chances of synchronicity, or luck.

Check the attendee, speaker, and sponsor lists ahead of time.  If there is someone you want to meet, don’t wait until you’re at the event to approach him or her. You’ll risk competing with many people. Touch base ahead of time via LinkedIn, e-mail, or twitter.  A sample message would be:

“Hi, Rachel.  I’m looking forward to the XGAMA Conference coming up.  I see you’re speaking and wondered if you could meet up for coffee beforehand so that I can help you get what you hope to out of the event. Please let me know if you can show up 20 minutes early.”

You could also invite them to call ahead, but be sure to make it a point to introduce yourself at the event. By then you probably will have established rapport and deepened it by associating your face with your name. 

With whatever they share with you about what they hope to get out of networking, be proactive in delivering it. If you get motivated my missions or games, make it one.  For example, give yourself 5 points for every lead you send another person’s way. Set a goal of 30 points. If you reach 30 points, treat yourself to a milkshake. 

 Do some homework on people. It can help to give you an idea of something you have in common and can use to build rapport. However, even though some of us keep our profile’s mostly public, there is such a thing as knowing too much. What’s fair game? Not kids! Nothing sets alerts off like people who know too much about my kids. Not neighborhoods, either, which is a bit too specific. Avoid scandals, as well. Politics and religion are usually considered taboo, but there is a context for them.

Big trips, public company initiatives, non-profit activities, industry trends, local developments, hobbies, and pop culture are usually safe enough to generate a good conversation that leads to deepening your understanding of another.  

Let’s remember that that is what this is about. You don’t have to mingle with everyone or hobnob with people you have nothing in common with, especially values. On the contrary, you’re there to find the few people who will become strategic partners with you in creating a better future. You’re looking for resonance. Much like a funnel, you might need to meet with 20 people to find 10 who are willing to talk further and then 4 or 5 with whom you will develop deep rapport and synergy. If you’re lucky, at least one of those will become a lifelong friend. 

Generate some questions and practice them.

Develop a powerful call to action. A 2016 blog shared a great formula and example for this. Since then I have enhanced it and created a builder for my clients and students. The enhanced formula is below:

I  am looking for introductions to [who],  who are experiencing [pain/challenge/initiative 1] and [pain/challenge/initiative 2]  so that I can  [solution/skill #1], [solution/skill #2], and [solution/skill #3] so that they can be/do/have [ultimate business outcome #1], [ultimate client/customer outcome #2], and [ultimate emotional outcome #3].

It’s ideal if instead of memorizing, you can hone one statement and become comfortable delivering it naturally. Then as you get comfortable, expand your database for each component for a different audience or to promote a different skill or outcome. It’s like doing Madlibs on the fly. The key to inspiring people to help you are the associated outcomes. The thing that makes your mission and value crystal clear and memorable is the emotional outcome. As logical as we think we are, most of our decisions are driven by emotions. Also, when someone confides in another about their work pain, the tendency is to share the emotional context of a story. This is what clicks for people the most, leading to a moment where you can say, “I know someone who complains about technology breaking” or “I know someone who would love to triumph in their finances!”  This is where the magic happens. 

Before you walk into an event, take a moment to ground and calm yourself. There is a meditation I teach my students and clients that enables you to slow your heart rate and embody your highest self, which makes you more confident and magnetic. There are a lot of meditations out there, any number of which will be beneficial. It matters less with what kind of meditation you do and matters more that you do it. Take some deep breaths. Remind yourself that no matter what, you are loved and whole. You are deserving of your ideal outcome. Then visualize what you intended yet again. 

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll cover more about how to ace networking in the moment, and how to carry the energy forward to make magic happen. 

Please share with us your stories of applying these tips.

 

Bruce Springsteen – I’m Ready (1974-06-03)

Uploaded by Johnny OnTheTop on 2014-06-01.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

 

Networking 101 for the Network-Disabled: 9 Places to Find Networking Events for Beginners

Last week I shared that I was painfully friend-disabled in grade school and explained how I expanded my horizons and developed greater self-awareness and self-confidence.  These were lessons I carried with me to college, where I continued to be involved in various kinds of on and off-campus communities.

However, upon graduating I moved to the Jersey shore for a guy and my social circle was essentially his social circle.  I was working as a temp full-time, which created challenges in deepening my relationships with co-workers, and then also worked part-time several nights a week and weekends at a radio station. Time to expand my horizons into new communities was limited and I fell out of the habit. When the relationship started to deteriorate I tried living more independently. I moved into an apartment with a few strangers who were in very different stages of life than me when I was 21 years old. The woman who sublet to me, Denise, was 35-years old, one of my roommates, Frank, was 38-years old, and another, Jimmy, was 47 years old.  I imagine most readers would relate more to my roommates than me. Imagine living with the millennial at work. Now imagine that millennial was in an high-drama relationship.  The more my roommates tried to impart wisdom, the more I resisted. In the end, making new friends like the ones I had, failed. After a year in New Jersey, I made zero long-term friends. When the 6-month temp assignment ended I decided it was time to move back home, change careers, and end the relationship.

When I got back home I landed a job where they provided excellent sales and management training, but required you to work long days and cut people out of your life who were “neggin you out,” or being negative about the prospects of success in that job, which was commission-only. It was cultish. I reconnected with my old friend groups and fell out of the habit, and even awareness, of expanding my horizons and integrating with new groups…until years later when I was a junior IT recruiter and was advised to start networking.

It was like I forgot how to do this. I started by asking my co-workers where to network. They pointed me to some professional tech groups. One focused on individuals in tech and the other was a corporate membership base.   At the first meeting, I was asked to stand and give a 30-second commercial.  I spent the first half-hour terrified, trying to think of the perfect thing to say only to stumble and shake through it. People were friendly and forgiving though. I realized after a few events that people who go to these events WANT to meet other people, for the most part, and will either approach you or be approachable.

It’s okay to not jump in headfirst, instead dip your toes in the water and gradually expand your comfort zone. You’ll be less likely to procrastinate or put off networking if you do this.

There are several different events that you can participate in, including industry events, role-based events, geographically-based events, mission-oriented events, special interest events, culture-specific events, gender-specific events, and general events.

Source 1: Brainstorm

Have you ever used a brainstorming map? There are multiple tools available that will help you do this (we included one used to identify networking communities with our Dream Job Breakthrough System.)

Remember the song: Who are the people in your neighborhood? The people that you meet each day? With a piece of paper or the computer in front of you (using one of the many brainstorming tools available as an option) record the various communities of which you are a member.

Some of these people could include, your family, a group of friends, people you know through school, jobs, activities/hobbies, friends of other friends, your neighborhood, your town, civic groups, your kids’ or parents’ connections, etc. Highlight groups that have their own events, then highlight in a different color communities that don’t have organized gatherings, but that you would attend events if there were events.

Then make another list of interests, hobbies, causes, and topics close to your heart, whether you actively engage in them currently or not. Highlight the items in this list as you did before. You may need to do some research to determine if they do, indeed, have events. Future steps will help you with that.

Level-up tip:

Keep networking options open to include activities and topics that you enjoy. Statistics show most leads come from networking with contacts who are not necessarily in the same industry or profession, but rather who are people you connect with on a personal level. The key is knowing how to leverage the opportunity to share your professional goals and values. This is a naturally evolving subject once rapport is established. Future blogs will go into more detail.

 Source 2: Ask your co-workers, former co-workers, and friends in your industry/profession where they network

If you attend an event with someone, don’t stay attached to them, instead, work in partnership. Tell each other who you are there to meet and work as a partnership to find each other referrals. In fact, asking questions is not just easier than talking about yourself when you’re new to networking, but it’s a superior way to add value to your network.

Level-up tip:

Ask everyone you meet who they are there to meet, and proactively try to make connections for those you meet as well. After you spend a short amount of time learning from each other what you’re up to professionally, telling them you will send people their way if you find someone is a great, polite way to punctuate a networking conversation – I have found that to be the most awkward networking moment.

Source 3: Google it

This seems so obvious, but clients and students have been unclear with what keywords to use to find events. There are different types of events you can choose to attend, but it’s good to start with the one that feels less intimidating.

This is where the brainstorming map and the lists of events can be of assistance. The first criteria is location, meaning where you want to generate opportunities. If you plan on relocating, you’ll want to compile a list of events and discover when the best ones overlap in a time span so that you can plan your travel.  Traveling close to home is preferred for most people, but if your mission is to expand your horizons and you live in a small town, you may need to expand your geographic search to your county or several surrounding counties. Then add keywords related to your current or desired industry, profession/role, hobbies, causes, interests, topics, etc.

Level-up tip:

Boolean searches can help you search by multiple zip codes, but you may just find it easier to look for sites that aggregate events. EventUpon is such a site. EventUpon aggregates from other event posting sites, such as MeetUp and EventBrite, and from organizations, which I’ll talk about next.

 Source 4: EventUpon

If you have a free day and are looking to fill up your calendar space with an event, EventUpon is a great tool. You can also integrate with various calendar and scheduling apps you may already use.  If you have a favorite event venue, you may also be able to set up an alert for their events. I have found a few bugs with the geographic filters on Safari, which don’t appear right now to let you set a certain mile radius around a zip code, though it looks as though this feature was intended.

Level-up tip:

Like a job board, you can set up agents that will alert you to ongoing networking opportunities fitting your criteria.

Source 5: MeetUp

MeetUp has become a very popular site for many professional organizations with various chapters and subgroups that meet in-person, though it does support virtual events, such as webinars, as well. It’s also great for people with eclectic interests and hobbies. You might think you have alternative tastes until you search for groups related to them and find other people are organizing around the same topic.

Again, this is not just for professional interests. I am in groups related to mindset, books, animals, adventure, sports, side hustles, health, etc.  You usually have to join a group to see their event calendar, and many groups ask you to fill out some bio information, however, this is based on group admin preferences. Joining a group doesn’t necessarily obligate you to attend a meeting, but I have found some group admins are strict about their members attending or engaging and they may drop you if you fail to attend an event or if you RSVP to events with attendee limits and do not show up, for obvious reasons.

Some events are free, but the groups are not free to run and neither are events, so some will have paid events or promote donating to subsidize costs.

Level-up tip:

If you search for something and find that there is no actively running group right now, but it may tell you how many other people in your area have searched for the same thing. If you feel strongly about the subject, you might decide to set up a group yourself. LinkedIn’s group feature is a good option for this, however, there is a fee to running a LinkedIn group, which is currently $15/month. If you can afford this, try organizing your own group. You would have to think about where to meet, what kind of people you want to attract and the content that would attract those people, and the format of your meetings. You’ll also have to think about how to manage and maintain quality engagement in your community and how to deal with people who violate the safety and respect of your community.

Source 6: LinkedIn

Unlike Facebook, which has an event feature (and is another way to look for events), finding events on LinkedIn is trickier. You have to first search for organizations and event organizers, follow them, and stay on top of your home feed and notifications. You can crowdsource information there by using your status update to ask your network for advice on worthwhile events to attend.

Groups are one of the most powerful LinkedIn features, but not all groups enjoy high engagement and value. Look at profiles of people who have achieved what you aspire to achieve and see what groups they are in. Do this by scrolling all the way to the bottom where it shows interests and click “See All.” Links to groups will be found in a tab at the top of the window.

Level-up tip:

Help them help you by letting them know what you hope to get out of these events – the kinds of opportunities you want to generate, the kinds of people you want to meet, and the kinds of things you want to learn. It’s more haphazard, but doing this will also help you stay top of your connections and may generate additional engagement, leading to greater rapport and synergy.

Source 7: FaceBook Groups and Events

If you are on Facebook, you may only think about personal connections. You may even want to keep your personal and professional circles separate. That’s a personal choice you are free to make, however, it does limit your potential to generate opportunities. Assuming you want to cross-pollenate your spheres of influence, maximize opportunities, and find events that will be more comfortable, maybe even fun, you will search three places: Groups, Pages, and Events.

Groups may be closed, private, or open. Closed means an admin has to approve you. Private means it won’t show up in a search – you have to be invited. Open means anyone can join by clicking a button. Due to the nature of social media exchanges these days, most groups I engage in are closed or private. Here you can also look for professional, geographic, or special interest topics.

You can search for events, which I recommend if you happen to have a particular open spot on your calendar and you want to see what is happening at that particular time.

It’s difficult to hear people at certain kinds of events, particularly listening-room type music or movies. Go, but don’t expect to get much networking done. Find events where there are more interactive activities, such as art shows and community fairs.

Level-up tip:

See which of your friend have either said they were going to an event or are interested in going. Touch base and let them know that you’re hoping to meet new people and generate opportunities, but would like a buddy to network with.

Source 8: EventBrite

Many organizations use EventBrite for the ease of ticketing, payment integration, and social media sharing.  It automates confirmations and has other features, but it also has good searching capabilities, as it has a full list of events by categories which you can search through. Try searching through all categories that align with your interests, not just the professional ones.

You can also search for events that are free versus paid, in case you have a low budget for networking.

Level-up tip:

Still search for paid events, even if you have a low or no budget. You can contact the organizer and offer to volunteer in lieu of the attendance fee. You may not be able to get all the content of that event as a volunteer, but you have an elevated position of visibility to the attendees and the organizers. It gives you the chance to demonstrate how you add value, rather than just telling people how you add value, which can generate better opportunity

Source 9: Business Journals

Business Journals have directories and lists of companies, organizations, etc that hold and promote events. There are a lot of great ways to get value from a subscription to your closest city’s business journal.  However, you don’t have to have a paid subscription, you can just sign up for a daily or weekly digest and get notifications about events.  Some of these events can be pricey, so you may want to find out who in your network works for a company that is investing in a table, and then see if the company has an open seat, or tell them that you’d like to go in case someone can’t go at the last minute. These events will put you right in the middle of people who are game-changers or movers and shakers in business. Unless you go and talk to no one, it would be hard to not gain value from attending.

 Level-up tip:

When Business Journals announce award winners, grants, or fundraiser winners, use LinkedIn to send the person a congratulatory message and invitation to connect. Let them know that you’d like to learn how you can help them get the most traction from the publicity and invite them to a brief call or coffee. If someone is being honored at an event, contact them ahead of time and ask them if they’d like to meet before or after. You may also check out the corporate sponsors and speakers to do the same.

Once you get the hang of navigating networking events, you may also want to look into industry conferences at your local Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, Toastmasters International chapters, or Business Networking International chapters (for business owners or sales representatives), and more.

Next week we’ll talk about how to best prepare for a networking event so that you can show up as your best self and leverage it optimally.

The Chi-lites “Have you seen her”

Donate BTC: 16HVaDadQCvXM1wchMBWrTTgbWJ6HjUjdr ETH: 0xee47136d1178D26a198D5f80425bD946aCEA99e4

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Why Using a Flip Phone Could Be Bad For Your Career

Last week we talked about a few of the top soft skills in demand by employers, a few them related to being able to succeed and thrive in spite of conditions like constant change.

Looking ahead, all companies have to prepare and plan for a future where workforces and cultures are built to be agile, but where does this leave the workforce demographics that find change hard?

Before I go further, are you attributing this quality to a particular demographic – one based on socio-economic status, race, gender or age?

That’s a bias, and one that should be easily refutable. Millennials and Gen Zers are thought to be more technically savvy and adaptable, however, it’s hard to go a week in my world without someone complaining about them, who by the way are NOT entry level anymore; many are already managers themselves. The complaints essentially have to do with their inability to be open to criticism, coaching, and wisdom, which are all reflections of resistance to change. Other complaints have to do with a lack of accountability and self-management, attributed to a “participation trophy” upbringing. This, too, is still a reflection of resistance to change.

Bias is the reason for this article. Humans do it. Companies do it. I’m not saying it’s right, but it is natural.

The truth is that all human beings are hard-wired to find change hard; it’s a defense mechanism built into our primitive brain to help us be wary and hyper-alert to potential danger in new situations. We also have more evolved parts of our brains that help us adapt and assimilate to new environments, but not without being uncomfortable, or even downright stressed.

Not all stress is bad, but our culture and media isn’t reinforcing this, and certainly human beings are not built to stay in stress response for sustained and chronic periods of time. People aren’t dying of old age; they’re dying from disease, many of which are traced back to stress.  This can impact any age, race, creed, etc. However it’s the aged population who are the most at risk for serious health impacts; they’ve been responding to stress for more years, and not all are getting better at managing it. In fact, the pace of change, especially in the workplace, can be understandably overwhelming.

The recruiter’s objective in simple terms is to identify value and assess risks of qualified candidates. This is, by law, NOT supposed to take into consideration health, age, race, or creed. However, they can and need to be able to assess how well an employee will perform, collaborate, and develop in accordance with the company’s business operations and plans. Adaptability, as reported in last week’s blog, is fast becoming one of the top soft qualities in-demand.

The challenge is, as with any soft quality, it’s nearly impossible to narrow down a candidate pool based on soft qualities, and unless the candidate has effectively branded themselves as adaptable and provided hard evidence, a résumé and LinkedIn profile will not make adaptability obvious. Recruiters have to look for “signs” of adaptability. This could look like working in diverse technology environments, getting promoted at a rapid pace, evolving with a fast-growing company, working for companies known for being on the bleeding edge, or assimilating to different cultures.

On the other hand, recruiters in their attempt to assess risk may perceive certain things as signs of a lack of adaptability, which may or may not be an accurate way of assessing adaptability and future-readiness, but it’s just another thing that makes hiring and recruiting ripe for disruption.

I remember hearing last decade that “anyone wearing a watch was definitely 40+.” At the time I wanted to be perceived as more mature, so I bought and started wearing a watch. It seems superficial and trivial to me now, and an even more dangerous indication of harmful bias that leaves room for discrimination.  Now I’m hearing, “If someone still has a flip phone they are stuck in the past.” This is also a sign of bias. Someone might use a flip phone because they won’t be distracted by it, and have other means, like a tablet or iPad, of getting other things done.

Back then I would have given candidates concerned about age discrimination to make themselves appear more youthful by accommodating such statements.  Now, with 13 years of success with my clients and unflappable confidence that you can put yourself in a position where YOU have the power of choice over where you land, my advice is to demonstrate adaptability using authentic means. Don’t buy into the bias. You’ll just end up fighting it regularly on the job, and that will diminish your job and perhaps your effectiveness.

Show off the diversity of technologies you have learned and applied

  • Work in internationally immersive experiences to your branded content
  • Tell stories about changes you have championed (mention the business cases and results)
  • Comment on or write articles or LinkedIn posts about emerging trends and technologies
  • Attend conferences and interface with people on the front end of industry disruption
  • Adopt new habits and learn a new skill; it doesn’t even have to be work-related, but will demonstrate your hunger for growth
  • Get out of your comfort zone at least once a week; you may fail at something new, but you’ll have new stories to tell and insights to share

So, using a flip phone can be detrimental in that you may not be considered by a company who perceives it as a sign of resistance to change and progress. However, that company has some progress to make of their own raising awareness about biases, and that’s not your burden to bear.

Aimee Mann – Stuck In The Past (Live on KEXP)

http://KEXP.ORG presents Aimee Mann performing “Stuck In The Past” live in the KEXP studio. Recorded July 17, 2017. Host: Stevie Zoom Audio Engineer: Chris Bailey & Kevin Suggs Cameras: Scott Holpainen, Jeff Wenzel & Justin Wilmore Editor: Justin Wilmore http://kexp.org http://aimeemann.com

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Are You Getting the Optimal ROI on Your Wellness Plan? Checklist For You (Part 1)

 

85% of companies with 1000+ employees have wellness programs, mostly driven by an effort to contain healthcare costs and costs associated with lost productivity, absenteeism, and disengagement. However, a noted shortcoming, even of the most successful wellness programs, is adoption and consistent, long-term participation.

The average ROI for these programs is 6:1

3.27 ROI for medical costs and 2.73 on reduced absenteeism.

Doesn’t even take into account productivity and engagement that can be a tertiary benefit of wellness, nor further impacts on workplace safety, talent acquisition and retention, morale and community, also known as value on investment (VOI).

This is increasing all the time with better data and additional breakthroughs in

Below are components of successful wellness programs. Check how many you have:

  • Strong awareness and education, which usually requires heavily utilized internal communication channels
  • Cultures, policies, and environments that are consistent with wellness behaviors
  • Baseline evaluations tracking system, and regular progress assessments
  • Amenities on site, not just for fitness, but also meditation and hygiene
  • Group accountability and support without social pressure to engage
  • Reward-based vs. punitive incentivization, possibly even gamification
  • They have a dedicated administrator
  • Offer a variety of fitness and nutrition management options
  • Bottom line benefits are a byproduct, not the intention; the wellbeing of its people is the intention
  • It addresses the true keys to behavior change (habits and beliefs) and addresses the real reasons why people fall out, which can be a multitude of things, like life events, shame, and lack of desired or expected results
  • Holistic and integrative wellness that addresses all facets of wellbeing (Get our report, How Mindfulness Training Quickly Transforms Organizations here.)
    • Social
    • Emotional
    • Physical
    • Financial
    • Mental

Common reasons why wellness plans fall short of projected and/or optimal ROI include:

Lack of Awareness

On average, only 60% of employees are aware that their company has a wellness program.  It takes a concentrated and dedicated campaign to ensure that all employees are aware. It means that employees have to be reminded ongoingly. Managers also need to be trained and, often, policies adjusted.

This also aligns with the point that wellness programs need a dedicated leader and team, depending on the size of the organization, which adds expenses yet improves ROI, like any good investment. Many companies have appointed someone to lead wellness programs who still have to deliver on their primary role duties that are not wellness-related, like a Benefits Manager.

The effort has to be rolled out in collaboration with legal, marketing, human resources, finance, training and development, and potentially (ideally) vendors, coaches, and consultants. A wellness program leader needs ample time to communicate thoughtfully, as well as to assess status and progress thoroughly.  This leader also needs to be trusted and influential to coordinate all of the cultural, logistical and policy-based adjustments that may have to be made, as you’ll read below.

Also, if your employees have to report progress to someone who is a stakeholder in their performance, they may not feel safe being candid when a personal issue is interfering with wellness goals (and work.)

Low Participation

On average, 24% of employees participate and the ones most likely to participate already have active, healthy lifestyles. As organizations often find, inspiring people to voluntarily make hard changes is quite the challenge. Humans have a built-in survival-based resistance to change. Also, there’s no one silver bullet way to get a large population of people to want to change because we all have different drivers.

Few wellness programs include personalized coaching equipped not just to educate participants on the pragmatic steps of becoming healthier, but also to help each individual prospective participant identify what will inspire them to make and sustain changes in their behavior and lifestyle. Take into account all of the different REAL reasons why people veer off of wellness journeys and the real things that have been proven to augment physical health efforts.

Many learning and fitness programs have incorporated community due to the observation and a 2007 Harvard study that found that obesity is “contagious.” There is a belief, which seems to be supported by science, that people tend to be a product of the people with whom they surround themselves.

However, there are a lot of complex social intricacies that happen when one person tries to effectuate change in his or her own life. It can cause emotional, sometimes subconscious, negative reactions among a person’s social circle, including the social circle at work. Even when an individual makes a completely independent decision to change there can be social repercussions. Even when encouragement and peer pressure are absent, there can be adverse emotions. Encouragement is often perceived as pressure or shaming, even when the intention is pure, and cause even worse social backlash.

While participants can be coached in how to navigate these relationship complexities, the non-participants often remain unaware of their own resistance to change that can be spurred by someone close to them changing.  If there was a minimal coaching option, these employees could have someone there to help them recognize their resistance and emotion and make a more conscious decision versus letting resistance and emotion make the decisions for them.

The differences in how people come to change are frequently unacknowledged. Some people need data to buy into change. Some people need a compelling emotional outcome. Some will reject any idea that they feel is being imposed upon them. Some people will do something just because it’s the right thing to do and some tend to say yes to everyone else but themselves.  Each of these tendencies needs a different approach to encouraging new habits, and yet still people will change on their own time and terms.

Many companies institute smart policies on security that trains employees to protect corporate data, which promote this sense of distrust. Then employees are asked to share personal health, including mental health data, with a corporate or 3rd party resource.  The need to measure ROI is then communicated as more paramount than wellness. Some programs are all or nothing, and whether a person decides to commit or resist making lifestyle changes that could positively impact. Programs, therefore, need some flex to accommodate what a person is comfortable sharing and changing with the support that can help the person continue to build upon small changes.

The risk assessments and biometric screenings that employers offer can be perceived as an attempt to use fear to scare employees into change, but there are still a lot of people who would not act with that knowledge. In fact, it can make real change seem so unobtainable it can inspire resignation, denial and additional stress. They don’t have to be the only starting point. Already healthy employees are the ones more likely to participate.  Make it easy to start at 0 without having to confront an ugly starting point.

Encouraging employees to start with mindfulness and mini-meditations for stress relief, educating them with information on the scientific basis for it, can help employees start with something that requires little time and change, but lead to greater self-awareness. It is like a gateway drug for change. (Epic Careering is a specialist in Mindfulness, Mediation and Emotional Intelligence Training. Get our full report, How Mindfulness Training Quickly Transforms Organizations, here.)

More companies will find participation increase when obstacles of time and sacrifice are removed when there are flexible participation journeys offered, and when the stigma and relationship complexities of changing within social circles are alleviated from both sides with coaching.

Inherent Inhibitors

Some companies have programs that can’t be followed because actual work policies or facilities inhibit it. Whether it be the work hours, lack of showering facilities, lack of secure bike racks, or a cultural expectation that employees will work or meet during lunch. For example, employees can’t participate in walking Wednesdays if on Wednesdays their boss requires a report due after lunch. Some policies, like accrued sick time, will have more of your workforce in the office when they should be home.  It can keep them sick longer and spread the sickness to more of the workforce.

Some companies offer snacks as perks (or for cost) to employees, but they don’t necessarily qualify as healthy snacks. It may sound like a simple swap from unhealthy snacks to healthy snacks, but when you dig into how much is actually altered, it’s a bit easier to understand why such a simple change can cause resentment. Managers need the training to understand how to help employees vocalize and process even small changes, to reinforce leadership’s commitment to wellness without making employees feel dismissed.

Musculoskeletal issues are a primary reason for absenteeism and a real reason why many people veer off of physical fitness plans. Ergonomic workstations, standing desks, and FSAs (flex spending accounts) that employees can opt to allocate for proactive health efforts, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, supplements, massage, will serve to augment efforts and reinforce the message that workforce wellness is a priority for the company’s leaders.

Don’t expect employees will be able to form work-based habits and regiments without accommodations to do so. Often companies don’t evaluate the logistical, procedural, and actual lifestyle challenges that keep so many people from making changes, whether a company sponsors and supports that change or not.  Creating lasting changes is already challenging enough; if companies really want their employees to enjoy significant improvements to their health, all policies and facilities need to be evaluated with the intention of eliminating any and all potential logistical, policy, or facility shortcomings. If the ROI of your wellness program is falling short of expectations, look here first.  When you want to level up your ROI, look here first. There is a lot that technology can do to help, and most of the capabilities that can help your company already has.

Next week I will be sharing Part 2 of the rest of this segment. Stay tuned!

 

The Pirates – “Mind Over Matter” (Temptations covering Nolan Strong)

Released in Sept. of 1962 This is The Pirates (aka THE TEMPTATIONS!) covering the Nolan Strong & the Diablos classic Detroit hit, “Mind Over Matter (I’m Gonna Make You Mine). Eddie Kendricks on lead vocals…

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.