Don’t Forget Your Business Cards

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If you’re going to attend a lunch, networking event, volunteer activity and especially a conference, don’t forget your business cards. Business cards should be something you carry with you like your cell phone. They are an easy way to remind those you meet of how to contact you.

As I said in Follow Up with People You Meet, timing is everything. The sooner you can follow-up with those you meet, the more likely they are to remember you and vice versa.

Every time you meet someone is an opportunity to make a connection, either personally or professionally. You never know when someone is going to be searching for an expert in your field.

How do you feel about business cards? How do you keep track of all the people you meet?

It’s ok to Decline Invitations

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Even though most work places have a clause in the handbook forbidding employees from soliciting their co-workers for fundraisers, the never-ending invitations to Silpada and Pampered Chef and Avon parties after hours can be dizzying.

While at first it might seem that in order to fit in you have to attend every single party, I’m here to tell you that isn’t true. It is ok to decline an invitation or have a prior engagement. You can choose to only attend the parties you want to and not feel pressured to buy anything.

There are several ways to decline an invitation. You can simply say, “I’m so sorry, but I already have plans for that evening.” You can be truthful and say the parties make you uncomfortable. You can say you’re just not interested i the product. Figure out what works for you, but be honest.

Now, that we have established that you don’t have to attend every after work event, it is a good idea to attend one every now and then. It gives you an opportunity to socialize outside of the office environment and get to know your co-workers in a completely different light. You might be surprised at who you connect with!

Use Your Inside Voice

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A tweet this morning from the wonderful Laura Scholz made me laugh and shudder. She said, “People, please use your indoor voices! #coworkingetiquette”

While we all learned about inside voices from our parents and teachers, I’m surprised how easy it is to forget. I am excitable and can have problems with volume control when I’m particularly amped up. It has become less of a problem as I’ve gotten older, but I admit, I can still forget.

Whether you work in a cubicle farm or are lucky enough to have separate offices, yelling or loudly talking to others can be very disrupting to those around you. Some of your co-workers might be sound sensitive or have a headache. At the very least other people yelling and talking loudly is distracting.

Ability to laugh at yourself

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I can’t even begin to tell you how important this trait has been to me, personally and professionally.

Laughter is a great way to diffuse a situation, let people know you aren’t perfect and bond.
Inevitably, I am going to make a mistake. I’m going to let spell check change a word into something else, I’m going to spill coffee all over a white shirt first thing in the morning, but as long as I can laugh at myself, I am not going to care that others are laughing at me.

Recently, I mistook a new co-worker for another new co-worker. The only similarity between the two is they have the same name. When I realized my mistake, we both had a good laugh about it and moved on. It was a bonding experience we wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t mistaken her identity.

Not to mention that laughing also keeps me from dwelling on the mistake I made.

Do you laugh at yourself? When?

Treating Others Fairly

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I’ve almost always been considered “Support Staff” in every job except in a newsroom. Maybe my personality keeps me from being brushed aside, but I also (wrongly) thought that we had moved on from treating secretaries and office assistants as second-class office mates.

Everyone has had an experience in elementary school where someone was left out. Left out of a birthday invitation or left out of a game on the playground. It sucked as a child and it’s even more hurtful and damaging as an adult.

Continued exclusion of your co-workers creates a hostile work environment for everyone.

It wasn’t fair to exclude people as a child. If your parents were anything like mine, you probably got scolded for excluding them, regardless of your reasons. It is even more unfair and beyond that, disrespectful to exclude people as an adult.

If you are going to invite the whole office to a party or get together, make sure you invite the whole office. Even the people you don’t necessarily like. Not only will it go toward creating a goodwill bridge with that person, but also you might find you like them a lot better in the non-office setting.