Archives for posts with tag: business advice

Professional NetworkingNetworking is the act of making a meaningful connection with a member of your community, another professional in your industry or related field, or a coworker within your organization, including members inside and outside of your team.  Once a connection is made, you can build these relationships by making an effort to keep in touch, asking if someone needs help on a project, inviting another member to lunch, or by finding a common interest or passion to discuss.  Networking is not just about who you know, but who knows you.

Why is networking important?

“By getting out there, you make yourself known and not just another name on a sheet of paper,” says Brad Karsh, President of JobBound, in his article, What Does ‘Networking’ Really Mean?  The more you make yourself known, the more likely it is that your name will come up when hiring managers discuss future job opportunities. It’s also a great way to help you move up or around within your current organization.  If management does not know who you are, how will they know you are a great asset to the team?

How do I network?

The best way to start networking is to find something in common! This will open the door for a great conversation.

When networking within your own organization, find mentors both on and off your team.  For example, if you are part of the Marketing Department, it might be useful to find a mentor in Marketing as well as a mentor in the Finance Department.  Because of the many ways these two departments overlap and interact, understanding another function will help you become more efficient at your job. Try volunteering to be a part of a project outside of your regular scope of work, or reaching out to your manager to let them know that you are looking for additional opportunities on cross-functional teams.

Some of the ways we promote networking here at HON include “Lunch and Learn” collaborative meetings, Leadership Roundtable discussions and weekly touch base meetings with managers.  Keep an eye out for any opportunity you have to build a relationship with another member in your organization!

Professional NetworkingBest Practices

From my own experience, here are a few networking tips to remember:

  1. Practice with family, friends, or strangers you meet outside of work. (They don’t have to know you’re practicing your networking skills!).
  2. Ask the individual questions to show your interest in getting to know him or her.
  3. Always thank the individual for his or her time, in person or with a thank you note.
  4. Smile! Show that you are having a good time creating this new connection.

Additional networking tips from Andrew Vest’s article, How to Network The Right Way: Eight Tips include networking before you need it, trying not to dismiss anyone as unimportant, generously helping others prior to needing something from them – give more than you receive, and build genuine relationships!

Most importantly, remember that networking isn’t over once you start the initial conversation; continue to stay in touch with these new connections!

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We’ve all heard the saying, “work smarter, not harder”, and with advancements in technology and mobile applications over the past few years, this is now easier than ever. I think every professional should have the following are 4 useful (and free!) apps:

1. Genius Scan—This little gem is one of the most used apps on my work phone. Genius Scan allows me to take a photo of a receipt, furniture plan or contract, and convert it to a PDF file. Once you’ve created a PDF, you can email or print the document, or send it to Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive or other storage tools with just a few clicks! Learn more about Genius Scan now.

2. Uber—Although this service is not just for business use, Uber makes it a breeze to get around for meetings with clients and to make it on time to appointments that span multiple metropolitan areas. TIP: save your company money by using the Uber promo codes and getting free trips! Learn more about Uber now. 

3. Seamless—Have you ever traveled to a new city or area for work and had to find a meal for yourself? Apps like Seamless and Grubhub are a couple of my favorites because they will help you discover all the local eats. You can easily order in or go out and explore new surroundings. TIP: the app saves credit cards and can use your location so you don’t have to call the front desk of the hotel to find out the address! Learn more about Seamless now.

4. LinkedIn—I meet several people a week and it can be difficult to recall specific details about a particular individual after that first interaction. Adding people to LinkedIn gives me the opportunity to revisit their credentials at a later date so I can bring up their information when we next meet. TIP: note the groups and articles the user likes to have conversation starters if there is a break during meetings. Learn more about LinkedIn now.

What must-have apps do you recommend for professional use?

Email

An informative subject line

Use ultra-specific verbiage within the email’s subject line to spark interest and encourage the recipient to prioritize the email.

  • This will help confirm that the message is not spam or junk mail.

A personal salutation

Depending on the nature of the business relationship, address the recipient by their first name and/or their last name with an honorific.

  • An honorific may always be included, but is most appropriate in situations of initial contact (Dr., Mr., Mrs., or Ms.).

A sensible structure

Format your email in successive paragraphs to achieve an organized, professional structure and smooth the flow of information.

  • First paragraph:
    • If you are replying to an email from the recipient, thank them for their email
    • Introduce yourself if necessary
    • Provide a brief overview of the purpose of the email
  • Main body:
    • Give thorough yet concise instruction or information
    • Be aware of the recipient’s level of understanding and tailor the content accordingly

The appropriate tone

  • Keep the phrase “It’s not what you say, but how you say it” in mind when composing emails to customers.
    • If delivering not-so-great news, consider first explaining what unfortunately cannot be done, but what can be done instead.
    • Offering an alternative in place of a “No” will better reflect your organization’s high regard for customer satisfaction.

A professional closing

  • Choose a closing depending on the type of business relationship held with the recipient.
    • Some examples are “Sincerely”, “Regards”, or simply, “Thank you” if you have requested something in the email that warrants a response.
  • Follow your closing line with your first and last name, your title, and any appropriate contact information.

Things to avoid:

  •  ALL CAPS
  • Inconsistent font style or text color
  • Excessive exclamation points
  • Negative or inappropriate language
  • Internal jargon
  • Anything you would not want to become public

What other email etiquette tips can you share?

VOC Quote

Woodrow Wilson had it right – you don’t become a leader in your industry without first listening to your customers. The connections our customers make with our brand, their attitudes towards our products, and the many ways they interact with us are all what we at HON call the “Voice of the Customer”. It is ultimately what they want, not what we want, that drives our product development processes and business practices. But, what exactly is the voice of the customer? Let’s look at the basics.

Who?

Listening is only valuable if you are listening to the right information from the right people. Know who your target audiences are and focus your attention on them. Also, remember that customer feedback doesn’t always come straight from your customers. Spend some time chatting with your sales team after a big pitch, talk to your social media manager or listen in on a call with a member of your customer support team. Take advantage of the information you can easily find from internal employees who spend most of their time interacting closely with your stakeholders. These people often have the most unique insight into how and why people make purchasing decisions which can help you improve your products and translate into more sales for your company.

What?

Although it sounds counterintuitive, listening in the business world isn’t always done with your ears. It comes in many different forms. You can ask customers for information directly, through techniques such as surveys or focus groups; or, you can ask them indirectly by monitoring their interactions on social media, tracking patterns in their purchasing behavior or checking in with members of your internal team as mentioned above. Conducting a big study to listen to your customers can be expensive, but even if your budget doesn’t allow a line item for Voice of the Customer research there are several free online tools to help get you started. The conversations your customers are having online matter, especially when 94% of buyers research their products of interest online before they make a purchase and the average customer checks over 10 different sources for information and reviews before they buy.  Setting up automatic Google Alerts for your company, using sites like Addict-o-matic to understand how people search for you, and listening to your social media communities through services such as Hootsuite or Social Mention are just a few of the easy ways you can observe the attitudes people hold towards your brand and really hear what they have to say. (And they are free!)

Where?

The best way to listen to your customers is to find them where they already are.  If your target audience is Millennials, it’s probably more worthwhile to reach out to them on social media platforms rather than through an ad in a local print newspaper. If you receive an email from a customer, respond with an email. If they call you on the phone, call them back. It gets too complicated to try to transition your conversations from one medium to the next, and adding additional steps for your customers to take in order to communicate with you only makes it less likely that they will.

When?

This is a trick question, because the act of listening never really begins or ends. As long as you are in business with your customers, consider your relationship with them an ongoing conversation. Listen and respond appropriately, letting your product enhancements, sustainability efforts and community outreach projects do your talking for you. Just like with any conversation, once you listen you must respond. Whether you do so through words or actions, make sure you are adding value to your customers’ brand experience and always make yourselves available for continuous two-way communication.

Why?

The bottom line is that listening to your customers is crucial to your success, so recognizing its significance is the first step towards becoming a business that listens well. Accept that “leader” is synonymous with “listener”. Your customers are already talking, so you might as well pay attention! When you understand what really matters to your key audiences, your products and services are not all that will improve; you’ll be able to anticipate questions and potential problems before they happen, and get a head start on providing the right solution. The more proactively you can give your customers what they truly want, the more positively your brand will be perceived.

What are some tools or techniques you use to really listen to your customers?

Whether your next trip is for business or pleasure, consider adding the following items to your packing list if you haven’t already included them.

1. STAIN REMOVER WIPES OR STICK.

Stain Remover

If you are like me, you’re not finished with a meal until you are wearing it. There is nothing worse than ruining your favorite shirt or tie when it could have been prevented with some pre-treating. Stain removers are small and travel-friendly.  Put this in your bag once and you will be thankful should you ever need it.

2. A REUSABLE BOTTLE.

Reusable Bottle

You can’t bring larger liquids through security but you can bring an empty bottle to fill up. Hydration when traveling is key. It can ward off jetlag! Keep a bottle with you and fill it up often.  Many airports now have water bottle filling stations and most public places have water fountains making it easy to fill up anywhere. Plus, you are saving money and staying green.

3. BAGS, BAGS AND MORE BAGS.

Bags, Bags, Bags!

I always pack several shopping bags and a couple extra sandwich bags in my suitcase. Bags are great for pre-sorting laundry or to pack up something that’s still wet. Sandwich bags come in handy to keep pieces of something that may have broken or the rest of a snack. I haven’t been on a trip yet where I haven’t used at least one of the bags I’ve brought. You just never know what you will need a bag for so be sure to tuck one in your luggage.

4. EMERGENCY SNACK.

Emergency Snacks

There is something to be said about those Snicker’s commercials. You can always unexpectedly get stuck in traffic for hours or a flight can be delayed. So, be prepared and pack a snack just in case. My favorite on-the-go snacks are trail mixes and granola bars. They take up little space but can really curb hunger when you need it.

5. CASH.

Cash

In the age of electronic banking, I rarely carry cash. However I always have some cash in my travel bag. I specifically carry ones and fives. Whether it is a tip for valet parking or a toll road, cash is always a must for me.

When you’re on the go, what other items can you not leave home without?

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