Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’

Just finished reading Brene´ Brown’s book “The Gifts of Imperfection“, a great book by the way. One thing that really resonated with me came near the end when she talks about being cool and always in control. This has been a theme in my life, and having lived in DC for the past 10 years hasn’t helped to change that. This town is generally about being on guard, conforming, and keeping your silly side under wraps. No freak flags are flown here, at least none that I’ve seen.

article-2287524-18686F27000005DC-646_634x436Being cool, in the context of the book, is not particularly a good thing. We’re too cool when we’re afraid of looking silly in front of others by doing things like laughing too loudly, singing off-key, or dancing around like a fool.  On the other hand, we’re uncool when we can fully embrace our vulnerability in situations like these, and let our authentic selves come out – and in the process, not caring what others may think.

Brown tells a funny story about how she and her daughter were dancing in the shoe department at Nordstrom’s to a catchy song that was playing in the background. Even though other shoppers were shooting them judgmental looks, that didn’t stop them from freely expressing themselves. She writes, “When we value being cool and in control over granting ourselves the freedom to unleash the passionate, goofy, heartfelt and soulful expressions of who we are, we betray ourselves. When we consistently betray ourselves, we can expect to do the same to the people we love.”

Like anything else, being uncool is a process…and for me, a really “cool” place to get to!


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One of the first things I look for in my personal or professional interactions with others is some level of interest in who I am, what makes me tick, or even how I make a living. I am so tuned into this, and when I sense the opposite happening, I retreat.

I recently attended a virtual networking event, which in itself is a great idea…if everyone has at least some networking know-how. I was building relationshipsdisappointed that at least half of those I spoke with had their own agenda: to tell me who they were, what kind of job they were looking for, and to ask me if I could help them.  Mind you, this was in no way balanced by any interest in, or curiosity about me. I couldn’t wait to end the conversations. Maybe it was just a bad day because I don’t usually encounter, fortunately, such a slew of weak networking skills all in one event. I’m more than happy to help my fellow networkers however I can – when it’s a 2-way street. After all, that’s what networking is all about: building professional relationships and helping others whenever possible.

Good karma is alive and well when it comes to effective networking! It requires a certain mindset as well. We would do ourselves a favor by going into any networking situation, not with the idea of finding our next job, but with the goal of making meaningful connections and supporting others in their career pursuits.

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A few weeks ago, I presented my new webinar called “The Introvert’s Guide to Career Happiness & Productivity.” I was pretty sure it would generate interest, but it was still a little surprising to see just how many people attended.  The webinar discussed some of the challenges introverts face in the workplace, as well as strategies to make it a more positive experience.

One of these challenges deals with being talked over or drowned out by extroverts in a group meeting. Been there. I also tend to lose in “face-offs” with extroverts when we both begin speaking at the same time, allowing my colleague to have the floor. This challenge actually played out in my own job just a few days ago. We were having a small-group meeting to debrief on a recent work event and offer ideas on how to improve it for next year. Despite having several ideas to contribute, I found myself in the old familiar pattern of starting to talk, only to be talked over by one of my extroverted co-workers. I then fell into my usual stance that I would just remain quiet for the rest of the meeting. My colleagues are all lovely people, but I figured, what’s the point?

fishoutofwaterAs discussed in the webinar, introverts like to observe, take in information, maybe make some notes, think through a few ideas alone, and then present them to the group. This can often yield the same, or even better results in terms of viable ideas and solutions. But in this particular meeting, I knew that if I wanted to contribute ideas, it had to be right then and there. I also knew that saying nothing can be perceived as being a non-contributor. So I quickly changed my mindset and decided to keep trying, keep speaking up to get my ideas voiced. And by the end of the meeting, I did manage to get a couple thoughts out there to the group, which were well received, and I considered it a personal victory.

Introverts often have to walk a fine line. On the one hand, it’s important to stay true to who we are, recognize our strengths, and avoid putting on an extroverted facade just to fit in. On the other hand, it’s important to sometimes come out of our comfort zones despite feeling like a fish out of water, to see how far we can stretch ourselves! On this particular day, it paid off for me. But on any day, it’s a good strategy to follow for anyone!

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I can’t stress enough how important it is to honor our values when deciding on a job offer. I also encourage job seekers to look beyond salary, which is too often the only factor considered. I’m not suggesting at all that salary be ignored. That would be foolish and impractical. I recommend that salary instead be one of many factors considered. But at the same time, I realize that everyone is different, with varying priorities. So it’s important to create a list of professional values and prioritize them. Just like house hunting where it’s difficult to satisfy every want and need in one house, it’s equally challenging to fulfill every want and need in a new job.

checklist (1)With that said, if we can separate those things we can compromise on, from those we aren’t willing to compromise on, this will help make the decision-making process a bit easier. For example, are we willing to compromise on salary if the job meets our “uncompromisable” values of advancement potential, a comprehensive benefits package and professional development opportunities? Or maybe we can compromise on having a short commute if the job meets our uncompromisable values, say perhaps a compatible boss, flexible work schedule and autonomy to implement ideas. It’s also a good idea to periodically revisit our values list as our lives often change and cause shifts in priorities. In the end, staying true to our “must-haves” will help set us up for career success and fulfillment.

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Many of us approach job interviews with trepidation and anxiety, and understandably so. But there are strategic things we can do to minimize the stress and help keep the interview a positive experience . Here are some of my top tips:

1. Less is more when it comes to caffeine. A little caffeine before an interview can help us stay alert, but too much will just add to any jitters we may already have.

2. Eat a pre-interview meal that helps increase brain power and lower stress levels. Some of these foods include brown rice, whole grain oats, leafy greens, brazil nuts, walnuts, dark chocolate, flaxseed, eggs, salmon and tuna.

3. Get the blood flowing. If possible, take a brisk walk, do some yoga or other light exercise before your interview. This will cause a release of endorphins and help get you in the right frame of mind. job-interview-tips-300x238

4. Turn an interrogation into a conversation. Interviews should be a 2-way conversation. Interjecting questions periodically throughout the interview can help create a more relaxed environment and equalize an otherwise unequal playing field.

5. Keep in mind that this isn’t the last job on earth. If the interview doesn’t turn out in our favor, it often means that there’s something better waiting for us around the corner.

Of course, one of the most important things we can do is be prepared by researching the organization in advance, thinking through how your qualifications and background would be a good fit for the position, and doing some mock interviewing to get practice time in before the actual interview.

Incorporate these tips into your next interview and chances are that you’ll improve your odds of landing the job!

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Many of us have been there, me included. We accept a job offer based on what we thought the job entailed, but ends up being something very different. And sometimes it may be a case of not fully understanding the responsibilities of the position. So what now? We’re now in a job that has turned out to be something other than what we expected, something we would probably have turned down if we knew what we were getting into.

Job_burnout_success_rocketsIn a case like this, the misunderstanding and resulting fallout rests jointly on the shoulders of both the employee and the employer. It’s the employer’s responsibility to clearly and accurately convey the responsibilities and scope of the job before we accept the position. It’s also our responsibility to ask as many clarifying questions as it takes to completely understand what the job really is. And if something doesn’t feel right about it, then we should trust our gut instincts. Of course, other factors may come into play – like an attractive salary, or a feeling of desperation (i.e.), “I’ll take the job just to get out my current situation.” But being unhappy in a job usually overrides anything else.

So several scenarios are possible here: 1. We didn’t fully understand the job in the first place; 2. The employer didn’t clearly communicate the job; or 3. There was full clarity and understanding in the beginning, but the job has suddenly turned into something else, something we didn’t or wouldn’t have signed up for.

So what now?

1. If the job is really intolerable, then the best thing would probably be to rev up the job search again. Look outside the organization, but also see what opportunities may exist within. (If however, you just started, it may be too early to make a move internally.)

2. If the job is tolerable, and you’re comfortable doing so, talk openly with your supervisor and see if your job description can be adjusted to allow for more of the things you really want to do.  If this isn’t possible, try to give the job more time to see what develops, and what twists and turns it might take. It may just turn in your favor. But in any event, it could never hurt to keep your eyes and ears open for other opportunities.

3. If you have the means to do so, then quitting outright may be a viable option. I see this more as a last resort, but if the job is causing undue stress and having an unhealthy impact on our lives, then sometimes we’re left with no other option than to remove ourselves from that situation and start over.

Clear communication and full understanding are key before accepting any job offer. But again, sometimes even with that, things don’t turn out the way we expect. But also know you have options if confronted with a bad situation. When it happened to me, I thankfully chose to look elsewhere and am now doing something I truly enjoy.

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I read an article the other day with the headline, “How to Overcome Being an Introvert”. Overcome?! This is exactly the kind of attitude that perpetuates misunderstanding and confusion. I don’t see it as something I need, or want to fix. And even if I wanted to, trying to reverse something hard-wired into my brian is most likely impossible anyway.

Hammer and Qubes4no textLet’s face it – we introverts face certain challenges. In Susan Cain’s article, The Rise of the New Groupthink, she discusses how introverts tend to be very creative thinkers, but face a serious challenge in a culture that constantly emphasizes group activity and teamwork in the workplace. She goes on to explain that introverts welcome collaboration, but need sufficient alone-time to gather our thoughts and formulate ideas to then bring to the group for discussion. Cain cites Apple Computer’s Steve Wozniak, an example of a famous introvert, as someone who fits this mold and whose greatest ideas were developed solo. And we all know how well that turned out!

In the end, both introverts and extroverts are capable of bringing value to the workplace, but that it’s critical we understand each other’s work style and accept the fact that one size does not fit all. And this is one time where there is (or ought to be) an “I” in “Team”.

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