July 26, 2011

Snoop Blog

If you've watched TV, searched the internet or gone shopping lately, chances are Snoop Dogg promoted one of the products you've seen. Would you consider him a master of self-promotion? Personal branding guru? Regardless, here are 3 ways you and I can learn from his business ways...

Get comfortable with promoting yourself. You are gifted with unique talents, but the question is do others know? You could be a great coach, artist or teacher, but if no one knows, your talents are being wasted. Focus on your strengths and figure out what gifts you can share with others. Keep developing and evolving. Practice may not make perfect, but it definitely makes you better. Don't be afraid to share with the world how you can make a difference.

Shout-outs. Thank those who are helping you. Whether it's public or private, just make sure it is genuine. Nothing great is accomplished alone, so give credit to your supporters. The #1 reason people leave their jobs is because they feel unappreciated or under-valued. Tell others how much you value their presence in your life. Appreciation goes a long way.

Exposure, exposure, exposure. Stand out. Don't blend in. Give people a reason to look your way, or they won't. For example, if you offer a service, speaking is a great way to show people you are qualified to be a professional. Social media is a free way to let others know you're around. When it comes to networking, meet in person (if possible). Help others to put a face to your name. Be aware of your body language, it communicates more than a phone call or email ever will. The more comfortable you are talking to others about what you do, the better the chances of them hiring you!

I'm not saying take every opportunity to promote yourself like Snoop Dogg does, but take what he does and make it your own. In a world dominated by technology, its those with exceptional interpersonal skills that will rise to the top. The clearer you can communicate in front of others, the better your chances of getting "hired." Peace.

July 25, 2011

Knowing When & How to Fold

Life is about how you respond. The average person will have 13 careers in their lifetime, at least one will be as an employee. Just like in poker, how do you know when it's time to step away from a position (fold)?
I believe it comes down to "fit." Character and competence are important, but you need to find a role that suits your individual strengths and fits within the team structure. You may be on the right bus (company), but ask yourself, "Am I on the right seat (role) on the bus?" Put your pride aside when it tells you "I can make this work." Your job should be challenging, but know your strengths and limitations. Be true to yourself and to your employer about how effectively you are contributing. If you're not producing at a high level because it's outside of your skill set (and you won't get trained properly with a generous learning curve), do the right thing and step down.

How do you exit properly?
Be gracious and honest. Don't burn bridges you might cross in the future. Think of your career as a sub-category of your personal network. Last week I addressed the concept of work-life balance, where the lines of your career and personal relationships merge together.  Just like posting information on social media, what you say and do after leaving a job leaves a permanent imprint on the future of your career. Approach your supervisor and share with him/her why you don't think your current position is a good fit. At that point, you have done your part (regardless of their response) so let the cards fall as they may. Your results are a reflection of your competence. The way you handle yourself is a reflection of your character.

This post hits home for me because in the past 6 months I've stepped away from two opportunities. I went in with an open mindset, but after a short amount of time, it was clear that I wasn't a good fit for the position(s). In both situations, I had honest conversations with owners I have a great amount of respect for. Even though I would have liked it to work out differently; it was about doing the right thing. During our conversations, what mattered to me the most was respecting the person across from me and maintaining our relationship. There were points where I felt weak and vulnerable, because my ego wanted to make it work, but in the end we came to an agreement that what was best for the organization(s) was that we went our separate ways for the project(s). 

These experiences have taught me a lot about business and life. I hope my experiences will help shape and equip you to face the same types of scenarios in the future. 

July 18, 2011

Can you achieve work-life balance?

Just like a relationship, work-life rarely achieves a 50-50 balance. 
Today's career is about finding the perfect "fit" that is:

1) an extension of who you are 
2) passion + strengths + experience
Life is a mixture of different categories, but primarily relationships. The challenge is not necessarily balancing the two, but prioritizing. For example, if you are career driven, you might put your social life on hold because you love to achieve. On the other hand, if relationships are what you're all about, your work may not be as important. There are points where perfect harmony can be attained, but it's very rare.

The point is: you have to choose which one comes first.

I can't tell you which one is "better," but I can share from my own experiences. I value relationships. My wife, family and friends come first. That doesn't mean I don't care about my career, because I do, but if I have to choose, it's my relationships. I have my own business, helping people identify and grow within their careers, but my primary motivation is the flexibility of schedule. Controlling how I spend my time means I can work my schedule around my wife's. Even the network group I created, Career Synergy, is relationships first, business second. I truly believe that your strongest career asset is your personal network - the people you know.

So can you achieve work-life balance? The short answer is yes. The better question is: What's more important? It's said if you want to know your priorities, look at how you spend your time and money. Instead of trying to be a master of juggling, figure out the order of importance.  

So for you, which comes first? Work (career) or Life (relationships)?

July 7, 2011

What does Networking and a Torn Achilles have in Common?

In late January, I fully tore my Achilles tendon playing basketball and once surgery was recommended I was devastated. I love to workout and a huge part of my business model is meeting people for coffee. Knowing I was going to be in a cast for 6 weeks and couldn't play sports for months, I prepared for the worst.

Little did I know from then until now, I learned a lot about business through unconventional ways. 

Ironically while I was recovering, some of the relationships I had nurtured for a while started to blossom into opportunities. I was asked to join a couple of start-ups in roles that were outside of my strengths. Instead of backing down, I challenged myself to be uncomfortable. It has been a roller coaster of emotions, but it's forced me to get out of my comfort zone and learn different business models from seasoned veterans. 

I share my experiences with you because just like recovering from an injury, networking is a slow process.

At the core of networking is relationship building. You and I do business with people we trust. If you like someone, chances are better that you'll pursue an opportunity with them. We do business with people we like. 

Take a look into your personal network. Forget the size, but measure the strength of it. If you were unemployed, who would you turn to? I'm not talking about your co-workers. Instead consider yourself a brand. Who would you partner with to grow your idea? After all is stripped away, you are left with your network. 

The model has changed for good. It's not about climbing the corporate ladder anymore. It's about linking arms with those you want to go into battle with. Networking is no longer an option, it's a necessity. During lean times, we can't place our security in positions. They can be washed away in an instant. You and I have to meet people, figure out how we can help each other and make sure to follow-up

As vulnerable and helpless I felt while I was in a cast, the shining light was knowing I had others in my corner supporting me. Networking is not a long-term goal, it's a way of life

If you're looking for a place to start building your network, check out Career Synergy. If you have a strong personal network, continue to build it. As far as we have come with technology, it still comes down to who you know. People will always be your greatest asset. Go forth and network! (now)