ProTips

Image from: aphasia.org
Image from: aphasia.org

While nearly all of these can be summed up with two words: kindness and consideration, sometimes it takes more than 140 characters to share words of wisdom. These are the long versions of some of the #ProTips I shared on Twitter yesterday.

1) Don’t ask for easily accessible information. This also means don’t ask for something you’ve already asked for recently. For example: email addresses. Before you contact a colleague or professional contact for an email address, try Googling or at least searching your own past messages. Email addresses aren’t hard to find. (See this post on finding an email address.)

2) Don’t be unrealistic in your requests. If you want help, make sure it will take the person you are asking for help from less than 10 minutes. Whether it’s a presentation review or resume edits also make sure that the person you are asking for help from:

  • has the time 
  • doesn’t have a conflict of interest
  • isn’t something they have clients for

3) Don’t ask for something for free if the person you are requesting help from usually gets paid for the same service. Instead of asking for free help, think about what you can offer in return. Maybe it’s just a cup of coffee. That’s ok. But at least acknowledge the hard work the person has done to build their client base and be honest. Telling the person you are needing help from, “I can’t afford your usual rate, can we work something out?” is better than assuming the person wants to help you for free and having the advisor bristle at your request. Knowing whether or not the advisor typically charges for the service means doing a little research.

4) Do be considerate, asking for helps from 20 people makes you look desperate and as if you didn’t do your research. Your ask should be specifically targeted to the specific person, not a blanket request. Make sure to include as many details as possible about what you need help with and why. It’s better to err on the side of over information that not enough.

5) Do understand the person you are asking for help from will research you. That means you should make sure your LinkedIn and Facebook work history are as up to date as your resume.

6) Do be gracious if the answer is no. Don’t burn the bridge, you never know when that might come back to bite you. Most importantly, burning the bridge you asked to be on is not the wisest idea, especially if you ignored advice #4 and did a mass request and then were indignent when the person researched you, asked questions and gave an honest answer. In this specific case, all 20 people you originally asked for help from will see you burning the bridge and probably start to question if they want to help you at all.

7) Don’t ask for someone to teach you what took them years to learn. You should not expect to become an expert html coder in time for an interview. For example, you should not expect to become an expert in public relations or analytics in just a few days. If you follow no other piece of advice, this is the most important. If you don’t, your request comes across as insulting.

8) Don’t ask for help in fooling an interviewer. Know that when and if the person helps you, he or she is putting his or her name and reputation on the line and that might mean telling you, this isn’t a good use of your talents. A hint that this might not be a good fit, is if you are trying to learn several new skill sets just for an interview. (See advice #7)

Am I missing anything else that needs to be on this list?

Nice Brands Finish First! webinar takeaways

Today’s Vocus webinar didn’t disappoint. With HARO founder, Peter Shankman, as the presenter the webinar was lively interactive and full of great tips whether you’re a big company with lots of money at your disposal or a small non-profit.

My notes and takeaways from the webinar:

  • Have a good sense of humor. It accentuates the good and lets the negative roll off.
  • Make yourself and company feel like a friend. Not a cold unfeeling entity. 
  • Add to the conversation, don’t detract from it. This is especially true during tragedies. Be human first and a marketer second. Silence can be best. As Peter Shankman said, “Shut up once in awhile.”
  • No person or brand gets bashed for being respectful.
  • I’d rather be known as nice than cool. Nice is good.
  • Take 30 seconds a day and spread a little happiness. Make people happy they chose YOU and your company/organization.
  • If you ask yourself for a second if this will offend someone DON’T POST IT.
  • Making people smile will drive repeat business. Even a little smile. Shouldn’t that be what it’s all about?
  • Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Don’t do it to make money, the money will come later.
  • empower your employees to do nice things. Don’t make it hard!
  • Regular people are the bread and butter for your brand. Celebrities are like jam. Good in moderation. Don’t chase the jam only to lose the bread and butter. The celebrities might have louder megaphones, but making more regular people happy will have the same impact.

While Peter Shankman shared the grandiose gestures brands have done for him (Morton’stoothpaste, etc.) brands don’t have to make big or expensive statements to be friendly. Your customers, clients and members have choices, make them want to choose you. Scripts are great for consistency, but by moving away from consistency and into individual experiences you can create a better business atmosphere. If you make someone happy, they’ll at least tell someone if not broadcast it on social media.

You can see the entire Twitter conversation from the hashtag: #VocusWebinar.

What do you think?

Cleaning out your desk

Empty desk

Even if you never leave your company, you might have the opportunity to change offices. Not only is this a great opportunity to clean out your desk, but it is also a chance to show your coworkers how much you appreciate them.

In a newsroom when someone leaves, coworkers turned vultures descend and take every last pen and paperclip left behind. This is not only because office supplies are in great demand in a budget conscious newsroom, but also because what someone leaves behind says a lot about him or her.

If you follow a few tips, you’ll lessen your chance of offending your coworkers or creating an unnecessary amount of work for your replacement.

  • If there are promotional items (shirts, pens, correction tape dispenses, etc.) with your office logo that someone ordered specifically for you, take it with you, especially if you never opened it. You can always donate it to Goodwill or use the items as cleaning rage. Leaving the item behind can give the impression that you didn’t care or appreciate the gesture and you risk hurting someone’s feelings.
  • Clean out your desk entirely. Don’t leave notes from 1997 or binders from conferences so old the plastic has warped and the pages glued together. If they aren’t useful to you, throw them away. If the highlighters are dried up, toss them. If you spilled coffee on the post it notes, add them to the circular file.
  • Leave the office as you’d like to find it, not necessarily how it was left to you. That means sweep up if you can, wipe down the desktop, remove any dishes and throw as much as you can away. You should always aim to leave a place better than you found it, this is just as true for your desk as it is for the organization.
  • In your final weeks, review the job description and provide feedback, as you’re able. (If you are not parting ways with your company on your terms, this may be difficult.)  If you have specific processes you follow or tips and trick that make your workday easier, write them down and share those things with your supervisor.

Remember you want to leave with the best impression possible to solidify your references and reiterate the kind of employee you were.

What else would you add to this list?

Handshakes

The act of shaking someone’s hand can tell the other person a lot about you. Are you confident? Nervous? Uninterested? Domineering?

Women’s Health, Ask Men and several other magazines have recently written about why a handshake is the perfect form of introduction and how to do it properly.

“A handshake is more than just part of a friendly introduction—it helps break the ice, too, says Patti Wood, body language expert and author of Snap, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma,” the Women’s Health article explains. “Shaking hands began as peace offering—proof you didn’t have any weapons, Wood says. Nowadays it still has the same primal effect of breaking down the “stranger barrier.”

There is nothing worse than a wimpy handshake. It conveys you’re uninterested and not confident. Others believe the handshake is a perfect time to show strength and practically crush your hand. While less painful than a wimpy handshake, it still isn’t a good idea. Firm and friendly without pulling the person toward you is your best bet.

Don’t be awkward! say, it’s nice to meet you or something similar during the shake.

If you aren’t comfortable with your handshake or going into an interview and want to make sure you’re sending the right message, practice. Find an honest friend and practice until you’re comfortable and confident. Yes, you might feel silly, but isn’t it better to feel silly with a friend that risk losing out on a job?

What’s the worst (or best!) handshake you’ve ever received?

Things to Learn Early: banquet etiquette

After attending a recent conference banquet, it is painfully obvious that in the era of cell phones, banquet decorum is on the decline. Regardless of age, in fact, some of the worst offenders at the banquet were older adults. If you or your job is really that important that you can’t take two hours away from your phone, then you probably shouldn’t be attending the banquet in the first place.

Banquets are an inevitability in the professional world. Whether it’s to honor your co-workers for several years of service or to at the end of a conference in a far away city, you can’t avoid attending banquets. Treating the event like you would a wedding it a great start. Good manners and proper etiquette with leave a lasting positive impression with your table mates.

Some observations:

  • Introduce those around you to each other. Make small talk.
  • Avoid polarizing topics (religion, politics, etc.)
  • If you are over the age of 10, games of distraction (hangman, bejeweled, Words With Friends etc.) are not appropriate to play on your phone or the back of the program.
  • Sending a quick tweet or text of congratulations is great, but staring at your phone through the entire banquet is rude.
  • If you can’t pay attention or pretend to pay attention, don’t go.
  • Be happy for all recipients. Applaud. Wouldn’t you want the audience to do the same for you?
  • If you must talk to your neighbor, wait for applause, talk quickly then.
  • Try not to yawn.

Have you attended a banquet recently, how did attendees behave?