Archive of ‘Pro-Tips’ category

Handling Negative Feedback with Poise & Professionalism

FeedbackNegative feedback – it’s something all professionals deal with. Not everyone is going to love you, your products and services or the way you do business. Negative comments and feedback can either bring out the best or the worst in you as a professional. How you handle it is entirely up to you.

Here are a few tips for handling negative feedback with poise and professionalism:

1. Don’t take it personally
This is easier said than done as we all have feelings, some of which get hurt from time to time.  The main thing to remember with negative feedback is that it’s just an opinion, which may not necessarily be the truth. In the business world most feedback is based on your work, products or services so it’s best not to think of negative comments as a reflection of you as a person. People may like you but hate your work and vice versa.

2. Never respond in anger
Whenever you get a negative or “mean” email, voicemail, letter or phone call never respond in anger. If you’re dealing with negativity over the phone simply listen to the comments, let the caller know you understand their concerns and tell them when you will get back to them. The last thing you want to do is to respond to a caller or reply a message or email when you’re angry. Anger can affect your thinking and judgment causing you to respond in an unprofessional manner.

3. Don’t retaliate
If a customer, client or competitor makes comments that you don’t like or agree with, do not fight them. Retaliating and arguing with them will only make the situation worse. Listen to what they have to say and think about whether it is valid or not. If valid address it on a professional level. Do not trade insults or sling mud, if they wish to take that route let them it’s up to you to be the Polite Professional.

4. Distill and understand the issues
When faced with negative feedback it’s important to properly understand where it’s coming from and what it’s regarding. Take some time to process what your clients or customers are displeased with. Once you identify and understand the problem you’ll be better equipped to find a solution.


7 Reasons Why You Should Network

Cover2In today’s technology driven digital world global expansions are on the rise and the old saying “It’s not what you know it’s who you know” cannot me more true. As companies seek out new markets and buyers that were virtually inaccessible a decade ago, networking is identified as a key factor in business success.

 Although the internet is a great way to reach out to potential clients, it’s not as effective as face time; an in-person, face to face meeting. There are some skeptics who still rely on their expertise, education, or credentials to get by in the corporate world but they are few and far between. Networking is now the best way to get clients and keep business.  Networking isn’t always easy and does require an investment of both time and money but it is an investment that will pay off.

 Here are 7 reasons why you should network :

 1. Word of mouth recommendations
Networking is a great way to spread the word about your business or the services offered by your employer. Interacting with people in person helps build a rapport and a level of trust which will in turn make others more comfortable when recommending you to their friends. When you can identify with others they will also be more likely to remember you and recommend you to their friends or peers.

 2. Mentoring
Working is a continuous learning experience and it’s always helpful to have a mentor to guide you along your corporate journey. Networking events are a great place to meet potential mentors that can provide you with helpful insight and ideas. If you are a veteran in your field networking can help you connect with potential mentees and share your expertise with young professionals.

 3. Gaining a better understanding of your market
Understanding your market is extremely important when selling goods or services. Networking gives you access to a wide range of individuals and opinions. You can use these opinions to your advantage by examining how they react to the products or services you offer and how much demand there is for your product. By expanding your network you will have access to more people and be able to identify those individuals who fit in to your niche market.

 4. New Employment Leads
If you are a job seeker you can network your way to your next job. Networking is now the primary way of finding a job. People are more likely to hire or recommend someone they know rather than someone they don’t. Networking and letting your contacts know you are looking for a job is the first step to starting your job hunt. Your contacts will then be able to recommend you to their network and keep you in mind for any upcoming vacancies. Make sure you highlight your skills and specialties so the referrals you get will be relevant.

5. Explore a new career
Effective networking gives you access to contacts from varying fields and work environments. This is especially useful if you are looking to change careers. Reaching out to your network to learn about different options and fields of work will help you seek out new career interests. Networking is also a valuable tool for new grads starting their careers. We advise graduates to actively seek out contacts who are already employed in the positions they are interested in and get a first hand account of what the job really entails.

6. Increase or drive sales
Increasing your network and meeting new contacts can help you increase your reach when promoting materials or products. More people reached means more potential clients. Networking is often used to drive sales. More effective than cold calling, networking allows you to actually meet your potential clients prior to approaching them with an ask for a sale or an endorsement. It’s usually easier to call someone you’ve met before and explain how you met them etc. rather than calling a stranger and making small talk before getting to your pitch.

 7. Building brand familiarity and notoriety
Attending networking events puts a face to the name of your business. Building brand familiarity is something business owners and associates must keep in mind when seeking out new clients. The larger your network the larger your reach! You want people to be able to identify you and only you with a particular service, not your competitors. It’s important for entrepreneurs and professionals to be aggressive in networking, this means expanding your network and getting your name out there.

For more tips on networking check out my book Cocktails & Conversations


5 Basic Rules for LinkedIn

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 3.15.34 PMLinkedIn is a great networking tool for professionals, but sadly many people either don’t know how to use it or over use it. I’ve found that LinkedIn has become over populated with personal posts, candid photos and articles that best belong Facebook or Twitter. It seems like users have forgotten the purpose of LinkedIn so it’s time to get back to basics. Here are my 5 basic rules for LinkedIn:

1. Have a professional head shot
I’ve seen so many profiles that contain candid profile photos where the user is either on vacation, in casual attire or with friends. LinkedIn is for professional networking so it’s important that you have a professional looking photo, ideally a head shot.  You can either hire a photographer for a professional photo shoot or even ask a friend or family member to take a head shot of you in professional attire. Make sure you’re facing the camera and people can see your face clearly.

2. Keep your summary short
The summary section of your profile (in my opinion) should act as a snapshot of your experience. By reading your summary people should know what you do, what your area of expertise is and who you provide services to. A summary should ideally be one paragraph long, keep it short and simple. No one is going to spend time reading your life story on LinkedIn.

3. Don’t over share
I like to think LinkedIn is a more formal type of social media than Facebook or Twitter, so keep your posts professional. Share updates about your career, projects you’re involved in or networking/ corporate events you may be attending. Avoid posting anything too personal such as the fact that you’re having a bad day or photos of : your pet, children, wedding, spouse or vacation.

4. Join groups and participate in discussions
LinkedIn has a variety of groups you can join such as those associated with a chamber of commerce or even a specific profession. Join groups that interest you and make it a point to actively engage in discussions as well as contribute discussion topics. Keep your comments brief, professional and relevant to the topic being discussed. Share your opinion but don’t be too negative or rant  in a comment,  if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. Sharing articles and starting discussions in groups will also help increase your exposure on LinkedIn and attract more attention to your profile.

5. Seek and give recommendations in equal measure
Many people ask for recommendations but few are willing to actually give them in return. If you ask someone for a recommendation, always make it a point to offer one back, it’s a polite and professional thing to do. If you feel you cannot write a full recommendation then try endorsing people for various skill sets that you know they possess. Make sure you maintain mutually beneficial relationships on LinkedIn and don’t be a moocher.


6 Interview Mistakes

InterviewCongratulations! You’ve landed an interview! That means you’re getting the job right? Well not so fast. Here’s my take on the 6 most common mistakes made by prospective employees.

1. Dressing Inappropriately
Believe it or not humans as a species are shallow and the way you dress does matter. An interview is a chance for you to showcase yourself so dress up for the occasion. When going to an interview you should overdress (within corporate boundaries). Even though the prospective workplace may suggest that a dress shirt and dress pants are the norm, remember you don’t work there yet! The most suitable interview attire for both men and women is a business suit, preferably grey or black with something to add a pop of colour such as a red tie or a colourful blouse. However it’s important to exercise caution, no loud prints or neon colors. You want hiring managers to remember you for your intelligence and suitability for the job not your bright pink shirt or zebra print socks!

2. No prep work
You need to  have some background knowledge about the company you’ve applied to. This type of research is best conducted before you even submit your application so you will have a better idea about the work the company does and what type of culture it fosters. It’s not uncommon for hiring managers to ask you what you know about the company or even go as far as asking what you last viewed on their website. An employable candidate will have a strong knowledge about the company, it’s founders, sectors and future directions. It’s also important to keep the role you’re applying for in mind when researching and look for information that might be applicable to the job itself.

3. Not bringing a copy of your resume to the interview
This may seem like a trivial issue but many times candidates assume that a hiring manager will have a print out of their resume ready. This may not always be the case as managers can interview many candidates for one position and may not always have everyone’s resume on hand. Bringing a copy of your resume to the interview demonstrates responsibility and conscientiousness. In fact it’s good to bring about 3 copies of your resume as managers may ask their colleagues or peers to sit in on the interview.

4. Over-confidence
Although candidates should demonstrate a sense of self assurance and confidence there is such a thing as over-doing it. This is most commonly demonstrated in how candidates answer the question “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Candidates often list many strengths and say ” well weaknesses, I have none” thinking that’s what hiring managers want to hear. In fact it’s the exact opposite! By denying any faults you’re not only lying you’re coming off as being arrogant and self-absorbed. What managers are really looking for in asking this question is humility. Are you able to recognize faults within yourself and own up to them? Do you know what you’re not good at? Remember everyone has weaknesses when it comes to work you just have to determine what yours are, and which ones are suitable to mention. Use your discretion.

5. Not having a reference list ready
When going in to an interview it may be essential to bring a list of reference. Many people have the phrase “References available upon request” on their CVs but employers may not have the time to ask you individually for references. Some application forms even ask for references as part of the application process. That’s why it’s always beneficial to go in to an interview with a list of references that can attest to your experience and suitability for the job you’re being considered for. Remember to choose references that best highlight your suitability for the specific role you’re competing for; general references may not cut it in today’s competitive work environment.

6. Accepting phone calls during the interview
No phone calls during an interview may seem like a basic rule to some but there are folks who make this mistake quite often. I myself was faced with such a situation when conducting an interview. My candidate interrupted me to accept a call and never offered an apology. Needless to say she did not get the job. Taking or making calls during an interview is extremely rude and makes the interviewer feel like you’re not really interested in the position. It’s also a sign of disrespect for the interviewer and disregard for the position you’re vying for. You’re at the interview to sell yourself not to socialize on the phone so during the interview cell phones should be off or on silent; vibrate is not an option. In order to demonstrate your dedication to the prospective role you must give the interviewer your undivided attention