Archive for the ‘Professional Relationships’ category

6 Major Mistakes People Make When Sending Thank You Notes and Cards (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

January 14, 2011

If you simply do what you say you will do, you will rise to the top of any company, organization, or industry.  If you go above and beyond what you say you will do, you will be absolutely unstoppable.

One way to go above and beyond is by sending a personalized thank you note/card any time another person does something to help you.  Yes, this sounds basic, and I realize I’m not the first person to tell you this.  However, I guarantee you aren’t sending thank you notes as often as you should, and if you are sending thank you notes, they aren’t having the impact you hope they will. 

Here are 6 major mistakes people make when sending thank you notes and cards:

  1. You don’t have your supplies handy.  At all times, make sure you have thank you notes, envelopes, and stamps in your office and/or home.  If they aren’t easily accessible, you’ll be much less likely to send them.
  2. You aren’t a speedy sender.  If someone gives you career advice over the phone, send your thank you note right after your call.  If someone meets with you for an informational interview or a job interview, send your note right after your meeting.  The longer you wait, the less likely you will send your note.
  3.  You don’t type AND write. Type a short email (or LinkedIn.com message) AND send a handwritten letter.  In today’s electronic world, people expect a thank you note to be sent rapidly via email, so send your electronic message within a few hours.   (I remember once being peeved that a friend had not emailed me to thank me for donating to a charity event she was participating in.  Luckily, I didn’t say anything about it.  She never emailed me to thank me, but her letter arrived in the mail a few days later.)  By sending the email, you acknowledge the person immediately.  The letter then arrives a few days later as an added appreciation of the other person.  By sending both, you also make sure you reach the other person, in case they miss one of your efforts somehow.
  4. You don’t look professional.  Make sure you use decent stationery, write legibly and in black or dark blue ink, and proofread before you send your letter.
  5. You don’t use a personalized P.S.  Use discretion here, but you want to make people smile and/or laugh in your letter somehow.  Here are a few examples:

“P.S. Can’t wait to hear about your trip to the Caribbean!  You have to send me your pictures when you get back.” 

Or…  “P.S. It will be no small feat, but I think my Jets are going to destroy your Patriots this weekend.”  (In case you missed it, that was a reference to the Rex Ryan “foot fetish scandal.”)

6. You rely too heavily on automatic card-sending services.  Many of my friends use a card service like kodakgallery.com or sendoutcards.com.  Personally, I think their cards look cheap and/or impersonal.  (Sorry if any of you are reading this!)  The purpose of a card (genuine, personalized appreciation and acknowledgement) is defeated when someone sends a card that they clearly mass-produced online and mailed to everyone they know without any personalization other than changing the name of the person the card was addressed to.  Letters sent by mail should be handwritten (even if it’s just 1 sentence).  Or, if they are typed, they should include a message unique to each person (even if it’s just 1 sentence).

2 Bonus tips for thank you notes after informational interviews or job interviews:

  1. Sell yourself: Include 1-2 sentences (no more than that) to reiterate why you want a certain job and why a certain employer should hire you. 
  2. Use 1-2 sentences (max) to address any mistake, confusion, or omission from your informational interview or job interview. 

 

In summary, thank you notes are absolutely imperative.  When done right, they can build deeper relationships and help you advance your career.  Want proof? People often thank me for sending them a thank you note!  The greatest gift you can give someone is your genuine appreciation.  Start giving the gift of a great thank you note today.

 P.S. Please share your comments or thoughts as well!

-Pete Leibman

-President of Idealize Enterprises

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

11 Ways to Be Persistent Without Being Annoying (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

December 9, 2010

When I speak to groups at colleges and universities about how to get your dream job after college, one of the most common questions from the audience is how to be persistent during a job search without being annoying or overly aggressive.  Whether you are a job-seeker, a salesperson, or an entrepreneur, this is a common challenge. 

In general, if you are reaching out to someone cold (i.e. you do not know the person and you have no shared connections or affiliations), it is reasonable to reach out to them every 1-2 weeks until you get a response.  It can take 5-10 contacts to get a response sometimes, so persistence definitely pays off. 

Once you have established a dialogue with someone, 1-2 contacts per month is usually the maximum frequency to aim for.  While each situation needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis, here are some guidelines on how to be persistent during a job search without being annoying or overly aggressive:

  1. Have a reason for contacting the other person.  Remove this phrase from your vocabulary: “I’m just calling to follow-up.”  Do not bother reaching out to someone unless you have a specific reason for doing so.  For your first contact, this could be because a mutual acquaintance referred you or because you read an article or blog post someone wrote.  Once you have already connected with someone, this could be to give an update on a prior discussion.
  2. Schedule a next step.  A key mistake that job-seekers and salespeople make once they get someone’s attention is that they leave the follow-up up in the air.  Always try to schedule the next time to chat.  At the minimum, get permission to reach out again within a certain timeframe. 
  3. Give an update.  If you spoke to a contact and were given advice or an action step to follow, you should re-connect to give an update on what you did.  This also gives you an “excuse” to ask for suggestions on next steps.
  4. Add value.  You become annoying when you repeatedly ask for help or favors without ever adding value to a relationship or at least asking how you can help the other person.  You can add value by sharing an idea or article that will be relevant, interesting, and/or beneficial to the other person.  If nothing else, make sure to ask how you can help the other person. 
  5. Use humor.  You will never be annoying if you are funny.  Don’t try to be a comedian, but incorporate humor when appropriate.  Here is an example.  I was trying to get in touch with a faculty person at a college several months ago.  He did not respond to my first 2 attempts, so I sent an email stating that I hoped he was not holding it against me that I attended a rival school while I was in college.  I also included a smiley face to make sure he knew I was kidding.  He responded in a matter of hours.  Most people are way too serious, myself included, when trying to break the ice with someone new or when trying to build a relationship with someone you don’t know very well.  A good sense of humor (especially some self-deprecating humor) puts everyone at ease.
  6. Contact someone else in the organization.  Another key mistake that job-seekers and salespeople make is to think you are only allowed to contact one person in an organization at a time.  If someone has never responded to you, feel free to connect with someone else.  Just make sure you never criticize a person who has not responded to you, and don’t spam an entire company!
  7. Show appreciation.  Send a thank you note (handwritten notes are much better than emails) every time someone helps you.  People are much more likely to find you annoying when they feel that you do not appreciate what they have done for you. 
  8. Value the other person’s time.  Make sure you tell someone that you know his/her time is valuable.  Then, honor their time by asking good questions and keeping conversations concise.  If you are seeking advice, make sure you have thoughtful questions prepared in advance of a conversation.
  9. Play it cool.  I remember one of my first leads when I was in sales with the NBA’s Washington Wizards.  I left the guy a voicemail 4 days in a row and could not figure out why he never called back.  Lesson learned.  Desperation is annoying.  Give people a chance to respond, and give yourself lots of options so that no one person is essential to your career success.
  10. Be explicit.  Sometimes, when someone is not responding to me despite my best efforts at using the above strategies, I will actually say or write, “I hope I’m not being a pain, but ______.”  Then, fill in the blank with a reason why you want to connect with the other person, while including a reason why he/she should want to talk to you.  This has worked for me on multiple occasions and often gets the other person to apologize for being so inaccessible!  It’s hard for someone to think you are annoying when you explicitly state that you are trying not to be.  You can only use this tactic once, usually as a last-ditch effort.  After that, it looks insincere.
  11. Don’t take rejection personally.  Sometimes, no matter how professional, polite, friendly, or considerate you are, people will not be receptive to your desire to get connected.  When that happens, just move on and find someone else!

There is no foolproof strategy that guarantees someone will respond to you favorably.  However, following the 11 strategies above will significantly increase your chances.  It is possible to be persistent during a job search without being annoying or overly aggressive!

Last point… When it comes to getting your dream job, err on the side of being too interested.  I’d rather have someone think I was overly enthusiastic than think I was apathetic.

Got another tip on how to be persistent without being annoying or overly aggressive?  If so, please share below!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

4 Ways to Break Into Any Industry (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

November 17, 2010

If you want to break into a competitive industry, a great way to do it is to “join” the industry first.  By “joining” the industry, you can get connected with people already working in your ideal field, and you will also gain access to industry information that will be valuable throughout all phases of your job search.  Here are the 4 best ways to “join” an industry: 

  1. Join professional associations for your ideal industry: Every industry has at least 1 major association.  Associations can operate on an international, national, regional, or state level; international and national organizations usually have regional or state chapters as well.  Many associations are open for anyone to join, and students and young professionals usually receive special membership discounts.  A few simple google searches will help you find relevant associations based on what you want to do.
  2. Attend conferences/events for your ideal industry: Most associations have an annual conference or regular events where current/potential members can get together in-person to exchange best-practices and build relationships.  There are also conferences and events not affiliated with a specific association.  Many industry networking events are open to anyone.  Again, students and young professionals usually qualify for reduced pricing.  In addition to finding conferences and events through professional associations, a few more simple google searches will help you find other relevant conferences and events in your area.
  3. Subscribe to publications/newsletters for your ideal industry:  Most associations also have a publication or newsletter in a print and/or online format.  Most of these resources are free for members, and others are available at a nominal fee.  In addition to subscribing to publications/newsletters for relevant associations, you can also do a few quick google searches to identify other sources worth following.
  4. Join social networking groups for your ideal industry: Most associations have groups on Facebook and LinkedIn where existing and potential members can come together online to network.  Given that it is a professional networking web site, LinkedIn provides a variety of networking opportunities that Facebook does not.  However, both are worth checking out.  Most groups on LinkedIn and Facebook are open to anyone, and they are always free to join.

In summary, if you want to break into an industry, just “join” the industry!  Then, it is very easy to get connected with people who can give you career advice and actual leads on how you can get hired in the industry.  This worked for me when I was in college!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

@peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com. 

4.5 Keys for Making a Great First Impression (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 11, 2010

Strong communication skills are consistently ranked as the #1 skill employers desire in their employees.  However, communication is not just about what you say or write.  Communication also includes body language, and studies indicate that body language is significantly more important than actual language. 

Body language is especially important in a first impression.  In a matter of seconds, we automatically size up someone we meet.  These initial, subconscious judgments have very powerful consequences on how we are seen in future encounters; it is very challenging to overcome a bad first impression.

Recruiting directors, hiring persons, and senior executives frequently complain to me that most students make very poor first impressions.  Here are 4.5 keys on how you can S.H.E.D. this negative stereotype and position yourself the right way:

  1. SMILE: A genuine smile is inviting and contagious.  It conveys friendliness, removes barriers, and encourages others to want to get to know you.  A warm smile immediately makes you more likeable!
  2. HANDSHAKE: A strong handshake conveys confidence and integrity.  Having said that, do NOT try to devour the other person’s hand!  Just make a nice, firm shake.
  3. EYE CONTACT: Eye contact also indicates confidence.  Upon meeting someone, look them right in the eye for 2-3 seconds and then look away.  Like a suffocating handshake, eye contact can also be taken too far.  If you look into someone’s eyes for too long, you will make them uncomfortable.
  4. DRESS.  Err on the side of being over-dressed, but dress appropriately and professional for every situation.  And, don’t try to make fashion statements!  It is better to be conservative than flamboyant.

Bonus tip: Stand up straight and have good posture!  Good posture implies confidence as well.

Do you want to S.H.E.D. the negative stereotype associated with most young professionals?  When you meet someone for the first time, Smile, deliver a strong (not suffocating) Handshake, make direct Eye contact for 2-3 seconds, Dress appropriately for the situation, and stand up straight!  Do this, and you will be seen as confident, likeable, trustworthy, and friendly, 4 traits that will help you get your dream job and help you build better relationships with potential bosses, customers, and colleagues!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

www.IdealizeNow.com

@peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability, please email me at Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

4 Traits For Successful Job Search Networking (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 4, 2010

Job Search Networking is the process of generating referrals and job leads through people you already know or people you meet during your job search.  Someone’s willingness to help you during a job search is not based on how long or how intimately he/she knows you.  Instead, it is based on how much he/she likes you and trusts you.  In other words, you don’t need to have known a person for 10 years for him to endorse you to people he knows.  You just need to make him confident that you will represent him well if he puts his reputation on the line by introducing you to his contacts.  For example, one of the executives influential in helping me get my dream job in college was someone I spoke to for less than 3 minutes in-person (I introduced myself to him at a networking event).

Before referring you to someone else, a person is consciously or subconsciously asking himself, “Do I like and trust this person enough to put my reputation on the line by introducing him/her to someone else?”  If the answer is “yes,” a young job-seeker can usually get almost anyone to open his rolodex.  You MUST demonstrate the following 4 traits to prove yourself likeable and trustworthy and to R.E.A.P. the benefits of networking:

  1. Reliable:  If you say you will call at a certain time, you have to call at that time.  If you say you will follow-up, you have to follow-up promptly.  If you ask someone for advice, you need to use their advice.  Be reliable!
  2. Enthusiastic:  If you are not excited about the type of job you are pursuing, you will not inspire others to help you.  You need to get excited before you can expect others to get excited about helping you.  Be enthusiastic!
  3. Appreciative: Older executives remember once being in your shoes, and many of them enjoy helping younger professionals now.  All they will expect in return is genuine appreciation.  Acknowledge that you understand they are very busy, do not take up much of their time, and send  a simple, sincere thank you note after you get connected.  Be appreciative!
  4. Professional:  If you expect people to put their reputation on the line by hiring you or by introducing you to other people they know, you have to put your best foot forward at all times (online and in-person).  Be professional!

 It is incredibly easy and simple for a job-seeker to exhibit these 4 characteristics during a job search, but it amazes me how rarely young professionals do!  If networking is not working for you, it might be because of how you are presenting yourself to other people.  Networking works when you are reliable, enthusiastic, appreciative, and professional.  Make sure you R.E.A.P the benefits of your networking efforts!

-Pete Leibman

Career Expert and President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

www.IdealizeNow.com

@peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my speaking availability, please email me at Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

9 Things You MUST Do Before Your Next Networking Event (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

August 13, 2010

Most people are completely unprepared when they go to networking events, and then they wonder why “nothing is happening” for them at these events.  Here are 9 preparation secrets to make your next networking event a huge success:

  1. Set realistic goals and a strategy for the event.  Are you attending to learn about a subject?  Are you hoping to meet the featured speaker?  Are you looking to make several new contacts in your field?  Walk in with a goal(s), and you will accomplish much more. 
  2. Research those who will be in attendance.  If you want to connect with the featured speaker, for example, it would be wise to spend a few minutes researching their work before the event, so that you are prepared to ask several intelligent questions during their presentation or when speaking to them afterwards.  Very few people ever do this, so you will stand out considerably if you do.
  3. Practice your elevator pitch.  Other than asking your name, the first question you are asked at any event is what type of work you do.  Click here for tips on how to answer if you are employed.  Click here for tips on how to answer if you are a student or looking for a job.
  4. Research the industry/organization hosting the event.  While small talk is inevitable at networking events, the most impactful conversations are with people who actually have something educational or thought-provoking to say.  How can you add value to your conversations by sharing some ideas or points for discussion?
  5. Make sure you are dressed correctly.  Treat a networking event like a job interview or a sales presentation because it could turn into one.  Make sure you look your best, and if possible, try to wear something that will draw people to you in a good way (i.e. a sharp tie or a striking necklace).
  6. Think of something creative to write on your name tag.  Everyone loves humor, and most networking events need more of it!  Use good judgment, but if you can incorporate humor into the name tag you wear at a networking event, people will start conversations with you.  I attended a Johns Hopkins University young alumni event in 2009, and I wrote “Class of ‘77” on my name tag.  People came up to me all night to tell me how funny my name tag was.  (In case you don’t know me, I am only 28 years old, so I clearly had graduated long after 1977!)
  7. Make sure you have business cards and a portfolio pad/pen.  If you forget these networking essentials, you will appear disorganized and unreliable.
  8. Eat 1 hour before the event.  See yesterday’s post for 5 reasons why this is essential.
  9. Brush your teeth right before the event.  Bad breath will kill your first impression, no matter how friendly you are or how great your appearance is.

Lack of preparation is the major reason why networking is not working for many people!  Do you want to ace your next event?  Then, follow the 9 tips above.

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

www.IdealizeNow.com

Blog: https://careermuscles.wordpress.com

Follow me on Twitter @PeteLeibman

5 Reasons Why You Should NEVER EAT At a Networking Event (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

August 12, 2010

Do you want to keep your shirts stain-free? Then, STOP eating at networking events!

Unless you attend a networking breakfast, lunch, or dinner where it would be rude not to eat the meal being served, you should NEVER eat anything at a networking event.  (I am referring to the typical morning or evening event where appetizers are being served.)  Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. You might spill something on yourself.  Chances are you will be standing up while trying to eat your appetizers.  It’s way too easy to spill something on yourself in that situation.  Magnify any apprehension you may have by 10 if you have to meet new people with a fresh stain on your shirt.
  2. You will be distracted.  If you are focused on eating and satisfying hunger pangs, you will be distracted from speaking to other people.  It is also challenging to have a conversation with someone you just met when you have an egg roll in your mouth!
  3. You will not be able to shake hands.  You have a drink in 1 hand and a plate with appetizers in the other hand.  Unless you have a 3rd limb, that makes it difficult to shake hands when you meet someone.
  4.  Your breath will not be fresh.  Have you ever talked to someone after they have eaten a few Swedish meatballs?  It’s not fun.
  5. Your health will suffer.  Most food at networking events is incredibly unhealthy (i.e. crab cakes, fried meats on sticks, and egg rolls at dinner events and donuts, pastries, and bacon and eggs at morning events).

You are at the networking event strictly to build relationships, so eat something 1 hour before you arrive.  Even your health will improve by doing this!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and President of Idealize Enterprises

Pete@IdealizeNow.com

www.linkedin.com/in/peteleibman

www.IdealizeNow.com

Blog: https://careermuscles.wordpress.com

Follow me on Twitter @PeteLeibman