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Archive for July, 2010

10 Ways to Manage Bad Bosses – according to CNN.com

Do you ever think your boss behaves like a child going through the “terrible twos,” throwing tantrums or reverting to a little lost lamb when in over his or her head?

I call this regression “Terrible Office Tyrant” (TOT) behavior. TOTs can act like schoolyard bullies afraid to reveal the slightest incompetence, or like helpless children. They can be fickle, stubborn or needy or have irrational fears. And they can consume your workday, not to mention wreak havoc on productivity and profits.

A bad economy, workplace pressures and stress can trigger the many striking similarities between bad bosses and terrible tykes. We’re all human, and behind a boss’s professional facade is often a grown kid who can’t handle his or her power.

When your boss slips into any of the 10 classic TOT behaviors, including the “bratty” type (overly demanding, stubborn, self-centered or tantrum-throwing) or the “little lost lamb” variety (fickle or overly fearful), you can use proven parental techniques and actually thrive in your job. By seeing the childlike motives behind a boss’s (or co-worker’s) actions, you can better manage even the most difficult situations.

Use C.A.L.M.
The top four tips to keeping your office from being a corporate playpen are best described by the acronym C.A.L.M.: communicate, anticipate, laugh and manage up:

1. Communicate
Communicate frequently, openly and honestly. Savvy TOT-tamers take the initiative to establish an open dialogue. At work, stay aligned with your boss’s objectives rather than focusing on your pet projects, so that your work remains consistent with what’s most critical to management.

By bravely opening the dialogue, you’ll also avoid misunderstandings with co-workers; other factors may be contributing to an ignored e-mail or seemingly unfriendly response, such as a tight deadline or pressure from the boss.

2. Anticipate
Be alert for problems and prepared with solutions. Offer answers to emerging issues; don’t add to the pile of problems if you want to avoid triggering bad behavior. Your boss wants to delegate as much as possible — as long as you make the process worry-free. Know when to stay away if you expect a tantrum is coming down the hall.

3. Laugh
Use humor, or what I call “the great diffuser” of tension, to break down interpersonal logjams. Laughter helps create bonds and reminds us of our larger purpose: to work together with upbeat, constructive energy. We can and should be able to accomplish great things as a team at work, while having some fun. Take the initiative to do this and watch the seething subside.

4. Manage up
Let yourself shine by being a problem-solver and collaborator. You can be a beacon of positive energy for your boss, co-workers and team. Part of managing up also means setting limits to bad behavior. Oftentimes TOTs are unaware of the effect of their actions. You can influence these actions, and your skills will be transferable to any job.

Advanced TOT-taming tips
Here are some specifics on how to tame your TOT and humanize your workplace. Try these time-honored “parenting” techniques:

5. Don’t fight fire with fire
If your TOT is tantrum- or bully-prone, mirroring his childish behavior is a downward spiral. Avoid the temptation to win the battle and lose the war. Instead, calmly and concisely tell your boss how his or her actions affected you. Keep a matter-of-fact tone and be factual. Use “I” statements rather than “you” to avoid an accusatory demeanor.

6. Use positive and negative reinforcement
When bosses set aside their worst TOT traits, respond with gratitude and comment on how it inspires you to do your best. Praising positive actions is a powerful way to foster better behavior. Over time, your boss will link the better management style with positive employee morale and results. Remember, if there’s something in it for your boss, you can effect change.

7. Know your timing
Timing can be everything, with a child or an office tyrant. Learn the best times of day to approach your boss. Study his or her patterns, mood swings and hot buttons and plan your interactions accordingly. It can make the difference between a pleasant “yes” and an irrevocable “no!” If you anticipate problems with solutions, you become indispensable.

8. Be a role model
Project the highest ethical standards and radiate positive energy. Maintain a balanced demeanor and approach each crisis (real or imagined) with a rational style. Your boss often needs a sounding board and you can be a valued voice of reason and calm when issues emerge.

9. Package your information well
Some TOTs can be frustrating when they’re inattentive or unavailable. It can seem like a form of corporate ADD, or as I call it, BADD (boss attention deficit disorder). BADD bosses can’t focus on important tasks and allow e-mails, text messages, phones and people to interrupt their (and your) flow.

Make sure you understand your boss’s ideal communication method, package your work in an appealing way and make your presentations engaging and interactive. Make it irresistible for your boss to find out about your projects.

10. Set boundaries
Let bosses know privately when they’ve gone over the line, but do so diplomatically. Keep the conversation focused on your work product. If your manager is intentionally malicious, that’s another matter that requires more serious action. If, after repeated efforts for cooperation (such as with a bully boss and unsupportive management), you may be best off looking elsewhere. You have to determine how much strife you can handle.
———————
By Lynn Taylor

———————————————————-
If you are serious about your professional career and want to pass your IT Certification exam in first attempt and don’t want to waste your precious time and money then visit http://www.ComputerTipsnTricks.com/ITcert.htm for Free Practice Exams, Free Study Material / Books etc.

10 Ways to Manage Bad Bosses – according to CNN.com

Do you ever think your boss behaves like a child going through the “terrible twos,” throwing tantrums or reverting to a little lost lamb when in over his or her head?

I call this regression “Terrible Office Tyrant” (TOT) behavior. TOTs can act like schoolyard bullies afraid to reveal the slightest incompetence, or like helpless children. They can be fickle, stubborn or needy or have irrational fears. And they can consume your workday, not to mention wreak havoc on productivity and profits.

A bad economy, workplace pressures and stress can trigger the many striking similarities between bad bosses and terrible tykes. We’re all human, and behind a boss’s professional facade is often a grown kid who can’t handle his or her power.

When your boss slips into any of the 10 classic TOT behaviors, including the “bratty” type (overly demanding, stubborn, self-centered or tantrum-throwing) or the “little lost lamb” variety (fickle or overly fearful), you can use proven parental techniques and actually thrive in your job. By seeing the childlike motives behind a boss’s (or co-worker’s) actions, you can better manage even the most difficult situations.

Use C.A.L.M.
The top four tips to keeping your office from being a corporate playpen are best described by the acronym C.A.L.M.: communicate, anticipate, laugh and manage up:

1. Communicate
Communicate frequently, openly and honestly. Savvy TOT-tamers take the initiative to establish an open dialogue. At work, stay aligned with your boss’s objectives rather than focusing on your pet projects, so that your work remains consistent with what’s most critical to management.

By bravely opening the dialogue, you’ll also avoid misunderstandings with co-workers; other factors may be contributing to an ignored e-mail or seemingly unfriendly response, such as a tight deadline or pressure from the boss.

2. Anticipate
Be alert for problems and prepared with solutions. Offer answers to emerging issues; don’t add to the pile of problems if you want to avoid triggering bad behavior. Your boss wants to delegate as much as possible — as long as you make the process worry-free. Know when to stay away if you expect a tantrum is coming down the hall.

3. Laugh
Use humor, or what I call “the great diffuser” of tension, to break down interpersonal logjams. Laughter helps create bonds and reminds us of our larger purpose: to work together with upbeat, constructive energy. We can and should be able to accomplish great things as a team at work, while having some fun. Take the initiative to do this and watch the seething subside.

4. Manage up
Let yourself shine by being a problem-solver and collaborator. You can be a beacon of positive energy for your boss, co-workers and team. Part of managing up also means setting limits to bad behavior. Oftentimes TOTs are unaware of the effect of their actions. You can influence these actions, and your skills will be transferable to any job.

Advanced TOT-taming tips
Here are some specifics on how to tame your TOT and humanize your workplace. Try these time-honored “parenting” techniques:

5. Don’t fight fire with fire
If your TOT is tantrum- or bully-prone, mirroring his childish behavior is a downward spiral. Avoid the temptation to win the battle and lose the war. Instead, calmly and concisely tell your boss how his or her actions affected you. Keep a matter-of-fact tone and be factual. Use “I” statements rather than “you” to avoid an accusatory demeanor.

6. Use positive and negative reinforcement
When bosses set aside their worst TOT traits, respond with gratitude and comment on how it inspires you to do your best. Praising positive actions is a powerful way to foster better behavior. Over time, your boss will link the better management style with positive employee morale and results. Remember, if there’s something in it for your boss, you can effect change.

7. Know your timing
Timing can be everything, with a child or an office tyrant. Learn the best times of day to approach your boss. Study his or her patterns, mood swings and hot buttons and plan your interactions accordingly. It can make the difference between a pleasant “yes” and an irrevocable “no!” If you anticipate problems with solutions, you become indispensable.

8. Be a role model
Project the highest ethical standards and radiate positive energy. Maintain a balanced demeanor and approach each crisis (real or imagined) with a rational style. Your boss often needs a sounding board and you can be a valued voice of reason and calm when issues emerge.

9. Package your information well
Some TOTs can be frustrating when they’re inattentive or unavailable. It can seem like a form of corporate ADD, or as I call it, BADD (boss attention deficit disorder). BADD bosses can’t focus on important tasks and allow e-mails, text messages, phones and people to interrupt their (and your) flow.

Make sure you understand your boss’s ideal communication method, package your work in an appealing way and make your presentations engaging and interactive. Make it irresistible for your boss to find out about your projects.

10. Set boundaries
Let bosses know privately when they’ve gone over the line, but do so diplomatically. Keep the conversation focused on your work product. If your manager is intentionally malicious, that’s another matter that requires more serious action. If, after repeated efforts for cooperation (such as with a bully boss and unsupportive management), you may be best off looking elsewhere. You have to determine how much strife you can handle.
———————
By Lynn Taylor

———————————————————-
If you are serious about your professional career and want to pass your IT Certification exam in first attempt and don’t want to waste your precious time and money then visit http://www.ComputerTipsnTricks.com/ITcert.htm for Free Practice Exams, Free Study Material / Books etc.

Rate your Office/Work Etiuette – Practicing good manners at work may be important to your job

In theory, etiquette is a way for everyone to express mutual respect for one another. In practice, it’s a confusing set of arbitrary guidelines not everyone follows.

For instance, the next time you’re eating at a restaurant or even at home, notice how many people put their elbows on the table.

For some diners, an all-arms-on-deck approach to eating is an unforgivable transgression. To others, you’d look stuffy if you didn’t lean in to engage in conversation because you were more concerned with your posture.

Once you leave the comfort of your home, whether or not other people will conform to your expectations on various types of etiquette is out of your control. You might think “Sir” and “ma’am” are passé ways to address people, while others might think you’re rude if you don’t. And who knows if anyone still cares about where your elbows are when you eat?

Etiquette and manners still matter at work, but it’s not as cut and dry as not licking your knife while enjoying a steak dinner. The workplace etiquette you need to think about is more about consideration than it is about tradition. Sometimes we don’t notice little things that irk other people.

Here are some times throughout the day when you might want to stop and think about whether or not you’re being a good co-worker:

Waiting for the elevator
Don’t push the Up button when elevator doors are about to close just so you can make everyone wait while you squeeze in.

Do hold the elevator doors open if someone’s only a few seconds behind you.

In the elevator
Don’t stand uncomfortably close to someone, especially if there is plenty of space. Forcing yourself onto a packed elevator, thereby smooshing yourself up against someone, is just as bad.

Do cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. (Not just in elevators, but anywhere, really.) You might think this one is obvious, but no … it’s not.

In the lunch area
Don’t forget about the apple you left in the fridge two months ago. Sure, lunchroom nitpicking is the epitome of workplace banality, but the breakroom is one of the few places everyone shares.

In the mail room
Don’t forget that the mail staff is part of the company, too. If you walk in, get your mail, and leave as if it magically appeared and those people working in the room had nothing to do with it, you’re being rude.

Do say “thank you” to workers throughout your building. From the maintenance staff to the security guards and cafeteria workers, several people are making your daily grind easier. Whether it’s a quick “thanks” or small talk in the elevator, talk to the people outside of your work bubble.

On the phone
Don’t call someone, call back an hour later, call a third time in the afternoon to leave a voicemail, then send an e-mail, then call again to see if they got the e-mail. Not everyone is available when you need them to be, so give them some time to respond to you. Give people a day or a week (depending on the urgency of the issue) before following up.

In the hallway
Don’t ambush someone with a question. If you’ve been waiting for your boss to answer a question you had and you run into her as she’s walking rushing off to a meeting, don’t corner her to get an answer. For one thing, you don’t know if she has a pressing engagement.

Also, her answer might be more complicated than a simple yes or no, and she doesn’t want to give you a Cliff’s Notes version while heading to the elevator.

In a meeting
Do keep the snarky comments to a minimum. Sure, meetings can be boring and some people are way too excited about them, but snickering with your co-workers is rude to whomever’s talking and to the people trying to pay attention. Plus, your negativity won’t go unnoticed by the boss.

In the restroom
Do wash your hands. If you leave the restroom without washing your hands and someone sees, you will be the germy person of the office. Frankly, it grosses people out and makes them not want to ever get near your desk or you.

At your desk
Don’t complain about the weather, your workload, the boss, your pay and everything else that you encounter. Sure, blowing off steam is what people do, but a constant flow of negativity gets bothersome for those around you. Pretty soon everyone around you will be listening to their headphones to avoid listening to you. (Keep this in mind when you’re in the elevator, too. No one wants to ride down 10 floors with a crabby colleague.)
—————————————
By Anthony Balderrama
CareerBuilder.com writer

————————————————————–
If you are serious about your professional career and want to pass your IT Certification exam in first attempt and don’t want to waste your precious time and money then visit http://www.ComputerTipsnTricks.com/ITcert.htm for Free Practice Exams, Free Study Material / Books etc.

Rate your Office/Work Etiuette – Practicing good manners at work may be important to your job

In theory, etiquette is a way for everyone to express mutual respect for one another. In practice, it’s a confusing set of arbitrary guidelines not everyone follows.

For instance, the next time you’re eating at a restaurant or even at home, notice how many people put their elbows on the table.

For some diners, an all-arms-on-deck approach to eating is an unforgivable transgression. To others, you’d look stuffy if you didn’t lean in to engage in conversation because you were more concerned with your posture.

Once you leave the comfort of your home, whether or not other people will conform to your expectations on various types of etiquette is out of your control. You might think “Sir” and “ma’am” are passé ways to address people, while others might think you’re rude if you don’t. And who knows if anyone still cares about where your elbows are when you eat?

Etiquette and manners still matter at work, but it’s not as cut and dry as not licking your knife while enjoying a steak dinner. The workplace etiquette you need to think about is more about consideration than it is about tradition. Sometimes we don’t notice little things that irk other people.

Here are some times throughout the day when you might want to stop and think about whether or not you’re being a good co-worker:

Waiting for the elevator
Don’t push the Up button when elevator doors are about to close just so you can make everyone wait while you squeeze in.

Do hold the elevator doors open if someone’s only a few seconds behind you.

In the elevator
Don’t stand uncomfortably close to someone, especially if there is plenty of space. Forcing yourself onto a packed elevator, thereby smooshing yourself up against someone, is just as bad.

Do cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. (Not just in elevators, but anywhere, really.) You might think this one is obvious, but no … it’s not.

In the lunch area
Don’t forget about the apple you left in the fridge two months ago. Sure, lunchroom nitpicking is the epitome of workplace banality, but the breakroom is one of the few places everyone shares.

In the mail room
Don’t forget that the mail staff is part of the company, too. If you walk in, get your mail, and leave as if it magically appeared and those people working in the room had nothing to do with it, you’re being rude.

Do say “thank you” to workers throughout your building. From the maintenance staff to the security guards and cafeteria workers, several people are making your daily grind easier. Whether it’s a quick “thanks” or small talk in the elevator, talk to the people outside of your work bubble.

On the phone
Don’t call someone, call back an hour later, call a third time in the afternoon to leave a voicemail, then send an e-mail, then call again to see if they got the e-mail. Not everyone is available when you need them to be, so give them some time to respond to you. Give people a day or a week (depending on the urgency of the issue) before following up.

In the hallway
Don’t ambush someone with a question. If you’ve been waiting for your boss to answer a question you had and you run into her as she’s walking rushing off to a meeting, don’t corner her to get an answer. For one thing, you don’t know if she has a pressing engagement.

Also, her answer might be more complicated than a simple yes or no, and she doesn’t want to give you a Cliff’s Notes version while heading to the elevator.

In a meeting
Do keep the snarky comments to a minimum. Sure, meetings can be boring and some people are way too excited about them, but snickering with your co-workers is rude to whomever’s talking and to the people trying to pay attention. Plus, your negativity won’t go unnoticed by the boss.

In the restroom
Do wash your hands. If you leave the restroom without washing your hands and someone sees, you will be the germy person of the office. Frankly, it grosses people out and makes them not want to ever get near your desk or you.

At your desk
Don’t complain about the weather, your workload, the boss, your pay and everything else that you encounter. Sure, blowing off steam is what people do, but a constant flow of negativity gets bothersome for those around you. Pretty soon everyone around you will be listening to their headphones to avoid listening to you. (Keep this in mind when you’re in the elevator, too. No one wants to ride down 10 floors with a crabby colleague.)
—————————————
By Anthony Balderrama
CareerBuilder.com writer

————————————————————–
If you are serious about your professional career and want to pass your IT Certification exam in first attempt and don’t want to waste your precious time and money then visit http://www.ComputerTipsnTricks.com/ITcert.htm for Free Practice Exams, Free Study Material / Books etc.

Slime-free Career Networking

Networking got a bad name because too many people saw it as transactional: I’m going to use you/you’re going to use me/let’s hope I can get a better deal on this trade than you do. That approach can have kind of a “meat” market, last-call-at-a-singles-bar flavor, and fear of getting caught in that flavor is one reason many women work late at their computers instead of going to an event where they might actually meet someone who would be good to know. On the other hand, if you meet someone you might want to do business with and don’t acknowledge that’s what you want, even to yourself, you close off any possibility that something good could happen.

What to do? When you meet someone at a business function, whether it be an industry group or women’s conference, that person is a prospect, and it’s okay to think of him or her that way . . . it’s even expected. If you meet the person somewhere else and you’re not sure if he or she would like to be seen as a prospect, you can do a quick qualifier and see how the response. If you say, for example, “Oh, I sell beauty products” to someone who owns a beauty salon, and she says, “What do you think of these appetizers?” you know that she might want to be your friend but not on your call list.

Be purposeful with your best prospects
At the other end of the spectrum are great prospects with whom it is clear from the start that you have something in mind. You have to be clear with them about what you want, too.

Just after I moved from Texas to Washington, D.C., I had lunch at the Jockey Club with a man named True Davis, a former U.S. ambassador to Sweden and high-level pharmaceutical industry executive. True was a mover and a shaker, and it was a real coup that he was meeting with me. I didn’t have a job, needed one desperately, and my mother, who had gone to high school with True, had suggested I call him for help. I did, and he graciously said yes. So I ended up going to lunch at the ritziest place at which I’d ever eaten, with True, who at the time was by far the richest and most powerful man I’d ever met, a man with tons of connections. I hadn’t done any homework on True, so all I really knew was that he was an important friend of Mommy’s. And I hadn’t thought through what I wanted, so I didn’t ask him for anything.

What I got from this encounter was an excellent lunch.

What else could I have gotten? At the very least, I could have procured a few introductions and interviews that would have greatly advanced my job search. I could have said to True, “I’m interested in working on the Hill for Congressman So-and-So, whom I know you know. Would you be willing to give his office a call on my behalf?” Or, “I’d love to get an administrative position in one of those prestigious Dupont Circle associations that I know you belong to. How do you think I should approach them?” At the very most, who knows what more a specific request might have yielded? But I blew it because I hadn’t done my homework, thought through what I wanted, and developed a powerful pitch around it. Which, by the way, he would have expected me to do and respected me for trying.

Even as recently as a few years ago, I still hadn’t completely learned my lesson. Flying back to New York from a speaking engagement in Detroit, I noticed Ram Charan, legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors and business writer extraordinaire, sitting in the plane’s first-class cabin. I was very familiar with his work, which I find amazing; to be perfectly frank, I had a big business crush on Ram, he was, at the time, my idea of who I wanted to be professionally when I grew up.

Since I believed then, as I do now, that you should try to meet people who do things you admire, I worked up my courage and seized the moment when I saw him standing alone by the luggage carousel after the plane landed. I forced myself to make an introduction, gushed like a schoolgirl over his work, and asked for a meeting. Tomy amazement, he agreed.

So when I got back to my office, I called his assistant, Cynthia, a lovely woman recognized my neediness and, despite her boss’s very tight schedule, managed a 15-minute meeting wedged in between Ram’s consulting sessions in New York. I arrived at the meeting, immediately offered my credentials (because by this time, at least I’d learned I have to credential myself with blues), and realized I had to make some kind of pitch. So I suggested we find some way to work together in the women’s market. Ram looked vaguely alarmed, told me that wasn’t really his sort of thing, and confessed that he had only agreed to see me because he thought I was someone else — some business muckety-muck’s daughter. A gentleman through and through, Ram then graciously declined my idea. That was it. He did, however, send me a standard issue, unsigned Christmas card that year and has continued to do so every year since, which jazzes up my office.

As much as I appreciate the holiday card, if I’d taken the time to develop a more precise pitch, I might have had a shot at working with new and powerful clients. Maybe if I’d said, for example, “I do a lot of training around relationship management, which would be an excellent fit with the work you’re doing on superior execution, and I think we could do X, Y, and Z together,” I could have at least gotten a second conversation. Instead, I essentially burned a very high-value prospect.

The moral of these stories: Save pitching your best prospects until you have a specific purpose or goal in mind that you can clearly articulate, and until you have thoroughly done your homework, which includes thinking through the benefit of what working with you or otherwise supporting you would do for them. Keep reading I’ll show you how.

Not the usual suspects

At this point, your goal should be to cultivate a diverse group of potential prospects rather than being bogged down by narrow definitions of who can help. So, your prospects might include not just your boss, but your boss’s boss, his counterpart in the next department, and his executive assistant. Not just your colleagues, but your competitors as well. The speaker you admire at a conference and the senior manager you meet at a wedding or party. Anyone with shared interests is a possible prospect, even if you do not share the same immediate goals.

Consider this scenario: You’re up for a plum assignment, along with several candidates in your company, and various decision-makers meet in the corner conference room to choose who gets the nod. Your boss is in the room and you know you can count on his support. But there are several others there, too, who don’t have any reason to support you; in fact, they have reason to argue against you because they want their own person to get the job.

Those people are prospects, too.

So you need to start thinking about indirect ways to cultivate those relationships. At the most basic, you might simply engage them in an occasional conversation. Or perhaps you could provide a useful piece of intelligence now and again “Hey, Tony, I thought you might like to know . . .” Tony still may not actively help you once he gets to that conference room, but he’ll be far less inclined to actively argue against you, and he may be more easily swayed to accept you over the person he’d originally thought would be the better choice.

As for your competitors, think of it this way: If you are competing with someone, you both have the same goal, which implies you have a similar vision. If you view this person as a prospect, thinking about a way to carve out the territory so you can support him or her in his or her piece and he or she can support you in yours, you have turned a competitive relationship into a functional, value-producing one. Politics really do make strange bedfellows.

This is an area where men often have an edge because they do not take competition as personally as we do, nor do they retreat from conflict as often. After a big ball game, men have no problem going out for drinks with players from the other team. We, on the other hand, just want those girls from the other team to go away — they’re bad girls and we don’t want to play with them anymore. We see the relationship context; men see the competition. We see girls who wanted to beat us; win or lose, guys see other guys who like baseball the way they like baseball and that’s what’s most important.

If you can make the mental shift that allows you to see your competitors as both competitors and potential prospects, you put yourself in the right mindset to win.
 ———————————-
by Ronna Lichtenberg,

————————————————————–
If you are serious about your professional career and want to pass your IT Certification exam in first attempt and don’t want to waste your precious time and money then visit http://www.ComputerTipsnTricks.com/ITcert.htm for Free Practice Exams, Free Study Material / Books etc.

Slime-free Career Networking

Networking got a bad name because too many people saw it as transactional: I’m going to use you/you’re going to use me/let’s hope I can get a better deal on this trade than you do. That approach can have kind of a “meat” market, last-call-at-a-singles-bar flavor, and fear of getting caught in that flavor is one reason many women work late at their computers instead of going to an event where they might actually meet someone who would be good to know. On the other hand, if you meet someone you might want to do business with and don’t acknowledge that’s what you want, even to yourself, you close off any possibility that something good could happen.

What to do? When you meet someone at a business function, whether it be an industry group or women’s conference, that person is a prospect, and it’s okay to think of him or her that way . . . it’s even expected. If you meet the person somewhere else and you’re not sure if he or she would like to be seen as a prospect, you can do a quick qualifier and see how the response. If you say, for example, “Oh, I sell beauty products” to someone who owns a beauty salon, and she says, “What do you think of these appetizers?” you know that she might want to be your friend but not on your call list.

Be purposeful with your best prospects
At the other end of the spectrum are great prospects with whom it is clear from the start that you have something in mind. You have to be clear with them about what you want, too.

Just after I moved from Texas to Washington, D.C., I had lunch at the Jockey Club with a man named True Davis, a former U.S. ambassador to Sweden and high-level pharmaceutical industry executive. True was a mover and a shaker, and it was a real coup that he was meeting with me. I didn’t have a job, needed one desperately, and my mother, who had gone to high school with True, had suggested I call him for help. I did, and he graciously said yes. So I ended up going to lunch at the ritziest place at which I’d ever eaten, with True, who at the time was by far the richest and most powerful man I’d ever met, a man with tons of connections. I hadn’t done any homework on True, so all I really knew was that he was an important friend of Mommy’s. And I hadn’t thought through what I wanted, so I didn’t ask him for anything.

What I got from this encounter was an excellent lunch.

What else could I have gotten? At the very least, I could have procured a few introductions and interviews that would have greatly advanced my job search. I could have said to True, “I’m interested in working on the Hill for Congressman So-and-So, whom I know you know. Would you be willing to give his office a call on my behalf?” Or, “I’d love to get an administrative position in one of those prestigious Dupont Circle associations that I know you belong to. How do you think I should approach them?” At the very most, who knows what more a specific request might have yielded? But I blew it because I hadn’t done my homework, thought through what I wanted, and developed a powerful pitch around it. Which, by the way, he would have expected me to do and respected me for trying.

Even as recently as a few years ago, I still hadn’t completely learned my lesson. Flying back to New York from a speaking engagement in Detroit, I noticed Ram Charan, legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors and business writer extraordinaire, sitting in the plane’s first-class cabin. I was very familiar with his work, which I find amazing; to be perfectly frank, I had a big business crush on Ram, he was, at the time, my idea of who I wanted to be professionally when I grew up.

Since I believed then, as I do now, that you should try to meet people who do things you admire, I worked up my courage and seized the moment when I saw him standing alone by the luggage carousel after the plane landed. I forced myself to make an introduction, gushed like a schoolgirl over his work, and asked for a meeting. Tomy amazement, he agreed.

So when I got back to my office, I called his assistant, Cynthia, a lovely woman recognized my neediness and, despite her boss’s very tight schedule, managed a 15-minute meeting wedged in between Ram’s consulting sessions in New York. I arrived at the meeting, immediately offered my credentials (because by this time, at least I’d learned I have to credential myself with blues), and realized I had to make some kind of pitch. So I suggested we find some way to work together in the women’s market. Ram looked vaguely alarmed, told me that wasn’t really his sort of thing, and confessed that he had only agreed to see me because he thought I was someone else — some business muckety-muck’s daughter. A gentleman through and through, Ram then graciously declined my idea. That was it. He did, however, send me a standard issue, unsigned Christmas card that year and has continued to do so every year since, which jazzes up my office.

As much as I appreciate the holiday card, if I’d taken the time to develop a more precise pitch, I might have had a shot at working with new and powerful clients. Maybe if I’d said, for example, “I do a lot of training around relationship management, which would be an excellent fit with the work you’re doing on superior execution, and I think we could do X, Y, and Z together,” I could have at least gotten a second conversation. Instead, I essentially burned a very high-value prospect.

The moral of these stories: Save pitching your best prospects until you have a specific purpose or goal in mind that you can clearly articulate, and until you have thoroughly done your homework, which includes thinking through the benefit of what working with you or otherwise supporting you would do for them. Keep reading I’ll show you how.

Not the usual suspects

At this point, your goal should be to cultivate a diverse group of potential prospects rather than being bogged down by narrow definitions of who can help. So, your prospects might include not just your boss, but your boss’s boss, his counterpart in the next department, and his executive assistant. Not just your colleagues, but your competitors as well. The speaker you admire at a conference and the senior manager you meet at a wedding or party. Anyone with shared interests is a possible prospect, even if you do not share the same immediate goals.

Consider this scenario: You’re up for a plum assignment, along with several candidates in your company, and various decision-makers meet in the corner conference room to choose who gets the nod. Your boss is in the room and you know you can count on his support. But there are several others there, too, who don’t have any reason to support you; in fact, they have reason to argue against you because they want their own person to get the job.

Those people are prospects, too.

So you need to start thinking about indirect ways to cultivate those relationships. At the most basic, you might simply engage them in an occasional conversation. Or perhaps you could provide a useful piece of intelligence now and again “Hey, Tony, I thought you might like to know . . .” Tony still may not actively help you once he gets to that conference room, but he’ll be far less inclined to actively argue against you, and he may be more easily swayed to accept you over the person he’d originally thought would be the better choice.

As for your competitors, think of it this way: If you are competing with someone, you both have the same goal, which implies you have a similar vision. If you view this person as a prospect, thinking about a way to carve out the territory so you can support him or her in his or her piece and he or she can support you in yours, you have turned a competitive relationship into a functional, value-producing one. Politics really do make strange bedfellows.

This is an area where men often have an edge because they do not take competition as personally as we
do, nor do they retreat from conflict as often. After a big ball game, men have no problem going out for drinks with players from the other team. We, on the other hand, just want those girls from the other team to go away — they’re bad girls and we don’t want to play with them anymore. We see the relationship context; men see the competition. We see girls who wanted to beat us; win or lose, guys see other guys who like baseball the way they like baseball and that’s what’s most important.

If you can make the mental shift that allows you to see your competitors as both competitors and potential prospects, you put yourself in the right mindset to win.
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by Ronna Lichtenberg,

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Blue Collar Job Search

A lot of what I’ve written about in the past has been for professionals and executives, but I had an experience recently that made me think about a blue collar job search, and what the differences are. This is pretty interesting because most of the job search blogs I follow seem to be written for a white collar professional.

I don’t want to draw any lines and declare that blue collar is better, or worse, than white collar. I simply want to talk about some of the nuances of a blue collar job search, compared to a white collar job search.

Here’s how this came about. I have a friend I was chatting with recently. He has been in a stable job for more than 15 years, but the time came for him to look for another gig. He’s a hard worker, very talented, and a really nice guy. He’s looking for a job where he can build and/or maintain stuff, working with his hands not at a computer all day, cooped up in an office (like me). At first I thought many of the job search tactics he would employ would be the same as what I recommend to others; but after we chatted last I realized the advice he needed was different than the advice I normally give. I began to brainstorm the differences, and here’s what I came with:

Identifying the type of job you want

Before I could help my friend I realized I had to understand what kind of job he would like to have. He didn’t communicate his wants or needs to me very well, so I had to draw them out. The kinds of questions we needed answers to included:

  • What kind of hours do you want to work?
  • Are you OK with night or swing shift?
  • Do you want to work weekends?
  • Do you want salary or opportunity for overtime?
  • Do you want management responsibilities?
  • Etc.
The key here is to figure out the type of responsibilities, expectations and the ideal work environment. I came up with at least a dozen questions to help him think through this.

Networking
You can’t get away from networking, no matter what kind of job you are seeking. We identified some networking events that are perfect for him not where his peers are but hiring managers are. Once you start networking you open up a can of worms: what to wear, how to talk in a networking event, how to approach people, and all of the rest of the networking strategies and tactics you can read about in a good networking book.

Branding

One of the distinct issues I found with my buddy was that he didn’t know how to communicate his brand, or value proposition, to others. Just a simple guy who can do regular stuff. There are many issues with his inability to appropriately brand himself; here are two: First, he completely depreciates his value. What might be normal to him is magic to me I’m about us unhandy as it gets, whereas he can build or fix just about anything. He takes his skills for granted, but he should really be able to communicate what he can do. Second, if he simply passes over his skills, experience and ability, he might make people think that he really isn’t that good.

Finding job opportunities

There is a lot of talk about where to find jobs. Some think you go just to job boards, others think job boards don’t work at all. I think it depends on your level, industry, and the type of job you are looking for. I found job boards to be quite valuable in my friend’s process for a number of reasons. He was able to find new target companies he hadn’t heard of before. He was able to list new “job titles” he was interested in new titles to talk about or search for. He was able to get a feel for skills that are valued, and keywords a company is looking for, to help hone his resume and prepare answers for interview questions or responses in a networking situation. Job boards get beat up a bit but they shouldn’t be discounted. To find a job board by industry check out Peter Weddle’s list of associations. Look for one appropriate for you, and see if they have a job board.

Social networking

I am not pushing social networking, even LinkedIn, very much with my buddy. I think white collar professionals have to be on LinkedIn so they can be found, but I’m not sure how many people are doing searches for facility maintenance, construction or other trade employees on LinkedIn. However, my friend can certainly spend valuable time each day looking for hiring managers and company contacts to network with. It’s a different use than what I’ve generally recommended.

Communicating to others

Once you understand your brand and value proposition, it’s critical that you can concisely communicate that to anyone you talk with. You should be able to tell them how your job search is going (or, more importantly, how they can help you in your job search), what kind of company or role you are looking for, and what your value proposition or personal brand is. People don’t want too much information, but you have a chance to ask for help or make an impression, and you should prepare for that chance.

Isn’t it amazing that what we really want to do (the work) is easy compared to doing all the stuff above? In today’s world, however, we need to think about those ideas so that when we transition again and we will transition again we are prepared to have a smooth transition.

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By Jason Alba for AOL.COM
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