Email Dominates Your Day

The task of emailing consumes about a fourth of the average worker’s day, according to a 2012 report done by the McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corporation. A separate survey estimated that the average corporate email user sends and receives about 105 emails per day.

Despite the many efficiencies of email, the sheer volume means you’ve got to use this tool effectively or else it can dominate your workday. Consider these issues:

  • Emails can be issued at a rapid- re pace generating multiple responses for a single subject.
  • Emails can be distributed to hundreds (or thousands) of people in an instant.
  • Email communications have replaced many face-to-face communications. A study done by officebroker.com found that 68 percent of respondents preferred email to face-to-face communication.
  • People will read your emails at different times, so the “conversation” can get out of sync. This is especially true when more people are included in the thread. Also, consider the impact of different time zones.
  • Many professionals use their email inbox as their “to do” list and/or a project management system despite its inherent weaknesses for this purpose.  Do not use your email inbox as a task management system. It is very inefficient.

Use Email Effectively

When communicating by email, follow these guidelines:

  • Be cautious when using “forward.” Does the original sender expect you to forward it? When you send an email, are you sure how it will be handled? Will the recipient forward it to others? Be safe and assume your email will be forwarded.
  • Be judicious when using “reply all.” Does everyone in the thread need to see your response? Or would it be better to reply to the Sender only.
  • Be careful with the “Bcc” function (blind copy). It can be useful to maintain the privacy of recipients in a widely distributed email, but otherwise be cautious.
  • One method that may improve email efficiency is to say something like this: “I intend to do ________ unless you advise me differently by __________.” By explaining your intended next action, you will keep the recipient informed without requiring a response. Some people will appreciate your initiative while others may be uncomfortable with this approach, so check before employing this technique.

Networking hint. . . location matters.

Where you stand in the room at a networking event can change the outcome for you. e two most important locations are the registration table and the beverage table.

If the event you’re attending has a registration table, this is where it all begins. Say hello to the person behind you in line. Linger after you’ve registered and received your nametag. is is a great place to strike up a conversation as people first arrive. Examine the nametags for people you’d like to meet and ask the organizers to introduce you when the person arrives.

e other key location is the beverage table. Depending on the event, it could be co ee or cocktails. People will often linger after getting a beverage, which is an ideal time to start a conversation. When it is your turn to order a drink from the bartender, turn and o er to get something for the person behind you in line. I’ve found this location much more e effective than a food table. Once people have food on their plate, they are less inclined to pause for a conversation.

Networking Hint. . . meet the organizer.

In the last post, we highlighted one benefit of arriving at a networking event early. Another benefit is that you increase the chances of meeting the person who organized or is hosting the event. is is a good person to know. If you are new to the particular group or event, you can mention this to the host and ask to be introduced to specific people. For example, you might say: “I am an accountant and would be very interested in meeting small business owners.” Or, “I am trying to meet someone who works with XYZ Company. Do you know if anyone from that company will be at this event?”

Remember, the key to networking is helping other people. If you ask for an introduction, it is important to o er your assistance. You may say, “As an accountant, I am able to refer people to nancial advisors, so if there is anyone here who is looking for a nancial advisor, I would be happy to make the introduction.” Or say, “As an accountant, I o er a free 30-minute consultation to non-pro t rms on how to run their bookkeeping. If there are any nonpro t organizations represented at this event, I would be happy to speak with them.” By doing this, you have also helped the organizer create a win-win-win situation for others attending.

Also, if you meet one of the event’s organizers, volunteer to help plan the next networking event or spread the word through a social media campaign. By helping to plan an event, you’ll naturally meet other people and build your network at the same time.

Networking Hint. . . arrive early

If you’re attending an event at which you don’t know many people, arrive early. Unlike being fashionably late to a social function, arriving early at a networking event makes it easier to become part of the party instead of feeling like you’ve arrived at a party that has started without you.

At the Networking Event – You’re On!

For people nervous about networking, showing up to a networking event may be the biggest hurdle of all. I hope that by preparing for that inevitable question, “What do you do?” you feel more con dent and less anxious. If not, spend more time practicing and rehearsing your short and long responses. Practice your dialogue with an iPhone, voice recording app, video recorder, or a friend.

The moment has arrived. You are attending a networking event or will be in a situation where you know networking will occur.

Examples of networking conversations

These are highly simplified examples, but they do emphasize several key points. First, in my experience, 99 percent of networking situations begin with ”What do you do?” You will be ready to answer effectively if you’ve prepared and practiced a short response that includes a hook and you have a well thought out long response. Is your hook eliciting the follow-up question or comment you intend? If not, consider changing it. It’s impossible to predict with certainty how people will respond, but being prepared will enable you to modify your answers as necessary.

Second, because you are prepared for the opening part of the networking conversation, the rest will probably flow smoothly. The result: better outcomes in relationship building. There is a lot more to establishing and maintaining a professional network than an introductory conversation. Of course, your responses will change as your career develops. Your responses also may vary with your goals for a particular networking situation.

Third, professional networking is not about a transaction (get- ting a job, making a sale, acquiring a client, investor, etc.). Instead, it is about building a mutually beneficial relationship in which the mutual bene t accrues over time. e examples here focus only on one side of the conversation. Your preparation and approach to the networking conversation might help guide the person to whom you are speaking if they are less well prepared or less comfortable.

Finally, always enter a networking event or situation with the mindset of what you can do to help someone else. As you are looking for these opportunities, you can help others help you by clearly describing what you do and whom you’d like to meet.

I’m not an executive, so why should I care about executive presence?

I am not an executive, so why do I care?

“I am not an executive, nor do I want to be an executive, so why do I care about executive presence?” is is a common response from new professionals when discussing executive presence. Or maybe you would say, “I am an entrepreneur. My start-up doesn’t have executives so executive presence doesn’t matter.”

I hear many variations of this same basic theme and my re- sponse is always the same executive presence matters! It matters in every industry, organization, job function, and role. From entry-level to the C-suite, this set of skills accounts for why som people are promoted over others, and why some entrepreneurs are able to raise capital while others struggle to get by.

Not yet convinced? Perhaps you are struggling with the word “executive” in the term, executive presence. If you prefer, use the term “professional presence.” Executive (or professional) presence will play a significant role in your career success.

Executive presence accounts for 26 percent of what it takes to get the next promotion, according to a 2012 study of 4,000 college graduate professionals in large corporations conducted by the Center for Talent and Innovation. That means that at least one-quarter of “what it takes” to be successful in your career is based on something other than your job performance.

Dress Rules for the Workplace

DRESS RULES FOR THE WORKPLACE

  • If you wear it to the beach, don’t wear it to work.
  • If you wear it to the bar on Saturday night, don’t wear it in the of ce.
  • Cheap suits are easy to spot. Make an investment in a well- tted suit. A modestly priced suit can be tailored to t well making it appear to be much higher quality.
  • If it’s in Vogue or Details, it’s probably not appropriate for the office– unless you work in the fashion industry.
  • Be current in style and age appropriate in your choices. Your business dress should be noticed for the right reasons and quickly forgotten.
  • Avoid sloppiness, rips, and stains in any type of clothing and shoes.
  • Don’t wear a more expensive watch or carry a more expensive handbag than your boss. It sends the wrong message- i.e., “I don’t need this job.”

Your Personal Brand

Generally speaking the term “personal branding” is the practice of positioning yourself as a commercial brand. Like Nike, Coke, Apple, you (as a professional) are also a brand. The definition of personal brand varies by industry and profession.

In a 1997 Fast Company article, “The Brand Called You,” Tom Peters coined the phrase “personal branding” and declared, “Starting today you are a brand. You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop.” Peters, a business management expert, is also the co-author of the best selling book, In Search of Excellence, which many consider to be one of the most important business books ever written.

To begin thinking of your professional self as a brand, ask yourself the following questions: What differentiates me as a professional? What qualities and capabilities do I want my colleagues and clients to associate with me as a professional?

Your personal brand in the workplace is how you de ne your- self as a professional and how you convey that de nition to others. It is the standard you set and maintain for yourself. Equally important, your personal brand is how colleagues and clients see you as a professional. It is important to remember that there may be a gap between how you de ne your personal brand and how others perceive it.