Tag Archives: meetings

Poll: How Do You Build Your Network Outside of Social Media?

On a planet full of tweets and status updates, how do you meet people face-to-face?

MOV_POLL-ICONWhether it’s a night on the town with friends or meeting with a monthly professional group, networking has always been part of the employment scene. When it comes to pretty much any job, “who you know” really does matter. Which makes sense, given that an employer is more likely to trust a new hire that they know personally or was referred rather than an impressive resume from an unknown applicant.

How do you keep it real in a digital world? Let us know by voting in our poll! 

Avoid Cultural Gaffes When Dealing in International Business

avoiding_cultural_gaffes_webWith technology at our fingertips, studying international business, taking internships abroad, and learning about today’s global marketplace is easier than ever. Ensuring you know how to recognize and respect business dealings of other countries is an important part of the process, so check out this post from guest blogger Heide Brandes.

Knowing business etiquette for foreign meetings can help make you a job search star.

When the Executive Director of Foreign Affairs for Taiwan presented his business card to me, I took it with both hands, studying the feel of the paper, the type of font, and the spelling of his name.

When I passed my card to him, he did the same. In Taiwan, and many Asian countries, the presentation of one’s business card is a serious event. It deserves respect and the time it takes to really look at the card and study it. Why?

It’s just considered good business. In America, we tend to slide our cards in a casual way across a board room table to everyone present, but that habit would be considered rude and even insulting in other countries.

Luckily, I looked up the business etiquette standards for Taiwan before my trip, so when the opportunity arose, I was able to honor my business associate by behaving appropriately.

In international business, first impressions are vital. To put a foreign partner at ease, you must avoid cultural gaffes, build trust, and know the customs concerning business wear, body language, handshakes, and more.

Clients thousands of miles away are easily reached in today’s society through video messaging, the internet, and email. So, knowing how to conduct yourself in other cultures is vital to having business success. Not only do you have the chance to impress foreign clients and your boss, you can also make yourself stand out on a global scale.

Do Your Homework
In some Asian countries, holding eye contact for too long is considered impolite or aggressive. On the other hand, Canadian businessmen emphasize eye contact as a way of showing respect and interest in what the other person is saying.

The best way to know what’s acceptable and what’s not is by doing your homework.

The acceptable business etiquette for any country can be found on the internet and in travel books, so it’s easy to educate yourself on the common practices. For example, if you are traveling to India, it’s good to know that ordering beef at a business lunch is considered rude since cows are sacred animals in that country.

Never be late to a meeting with Canadian business executives, as they value punctuality. And when dealing with the Japanese, let them initiate a handshake first because sometimes handshakes are not acceptable.

Set Your Ego Aside
In the U.S., Americans take pride in our strengths and our individuality. Holding heads high and portraying confident body language shows one is a capable and successful business person.

But in Japan, for instance, it is common practice to divert your eyes when dealing with a business partner in a higher position than you are. In business dealings, showing respect can mean the difference between a contract or a failure.

Admit Ignorance or “The Power of Apology”
If you do commit a cultural gaffe while dealing with foreign clients, apologize quickly and make it clear that you were unaware of your mistake.

Like you, foreign clients are on unfamiliar ground when doing business outside their home country. Apologize quickly and sincerely if you make a mistake and ask your client what the proper etiquette is, giving him or her the chance to explain.

The Importance of Food
In many societies, food is a ritual. With business dealings, the same theory applies. If you are invited to a lunch or formal dinner with foreign colleagues, brush up on the local dinner table manners. For instance, never put your chopsticks upright in rice, as it is reminiscent of incense sticks burned at a funeral in many Asian countries.

While eating with your hands is acceptable in India, it’s strictly taboo in other cultures. In France, politeness dictates that you rest your hands on the table instead of your lap.

Never Assume
Every society has its rules and quirks. It’s important to know or at least attempt to know the different customs of the clients you deal with in order to maintain a level of professionalism in your career.

How about you? Share your stories – both good and embarrassing – about dealing with foreign clients in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Make a Blazing Hot Cold Introduction

Making a great cold introductionHave you ever sat down to enjoy a good warm meal, only to be abruptly interrupted by a telemarketer trying to sell you something? Having your time wasted by someone trying to sell you something, donate to their cause, or support a political candidate can be annoying at best. Intruding on someone’s busy day to get a sale or even sell your personal brand is a very tricky art to master.

However, it’s also effective. If approached properly, cold introductions can be a great way to generate leads and develop networks that can help you find a job. Here are ways you can make effective cold introductions without coming across as a pushy salesman.

It’s About Them
The most important thing to remember when introducing yourself is to remember – it’s about them, not you. You have a short amount of time to get your point across, so don’t use it to talk about your past work experiences, achievements, or any other reasons why you are a remarkable worker. Instead, focus on their company goals and culture, and showing how you can meet their needs.
One of the first things a sales associate does when selling a product is to find the challenges the customer is facing and explain how his company’s product can help solve that problem. If you can’t quickly communicate why those you are addressing should be interested in what you have to say, and how you can further their organization, you’ll lose their attention.

It’s Personal
Assuming you are actively seeking these connections, you should have already researched them and their employer before trying to meet. If you meet with people you already know some information about, you will separate yourself as someone who is prepared and eager to meet you. They will be more open to talk and give you useful advice since you took the time to learn more about them than just asking general interview questions.

It’s also important to be sincere. When researching the people or employer, find aspects that really interest you and give you reason to ask for clarity. Questions or statements shouldn’t be made for the sake of asking questions. The more sincere you are about something, the more likely the other person will see your passion, which will lead to deeper conversations and stronger relationships.

It’s Not Always Direct
Some people are hard to reach. They have a strict schedule and sometimes they stick to it without interruption. That’s why you might have to warm up a cold introduction before you meet. If a potential contact has an assistant, receptionist, or office manager, build a relationship with them first. Asking them for help, remembering their name, and always thanking them, even after you meet with the potential contact will go a long way.

If you would like a less direct approach, social media can be a useful tool to slowly build a rapport before meeting someone. First, find people of interest on Twitter and follow them. Then when they tweet, comment on their posts and compliment them on their references. You can also follow their company pages on LinkedIn and Facebook and comment on and compliment the posts.

Cold introductions don’t have to be as scary or annoying as most people make them out to be. With a little research and confidence, you can introduce yourself to anyone and build a strong, reliable network. What are some of your stories of how a cold introduction led to career success?

Foolproof Conference Calls: 3 How To Tips

Conferencecall_Jan_2012_webIf you’ve ever been asked to set up a conference call, you know first hand the anxiety that comes with meetings conducted this way. So many things can go wrong, from the phone conferencing system, or web conferencing software not working to attendees not calling in on time. Conference calls are normally necessary when a question is complex, a decision is trying to be reached, or an idea is being pitched, which can all be stressful conversations in person, without the added challenges conference calls can bring. Here are a few tips to take control of the situation, help you plan for the call, and conduct a successful meeting. 

1. Plan in Advance

When it comes to setting up a conference call, don’t leave anything to chance. Before you set up the call make sure you understand what is expected. Some technical questions to ask are:

  • Will you need to be able to share a slideshow or your computer screen?
  • How many people will be on the line and will you need to be able to mute the lines?
  • Will the audio call and/or the visual presentation need to be recorded?
  • How long will the call take?

You’ll want to schedule the call like you would schedule a meeting, using your calendar software to make sure that everyone involved will be available. Resist the urge to send an email with the details, instead send a meeting request containing the conference call logistics to ensure that it will show up on the calendars of the attendees and not be lost in their email inboxes. Prior to sending the meeting request, confirm the phone number, access codes, and online presentation link so that all of the information is included in the initial meeting invite. Don’t make it difficult to find the log-in information by sending separate emails and meeting requests – communicate clearly in one message. Also, include an agenda or list of questions that will be addressed. Giving your attendees time to gather information they need prior to the call will help you achieve your objectives and have a better discussion on the call. Conference calls can be effective ways to clear up confusion and seek direction, as opposed to several email threads or discussion threads trying to seek a resolution, if people are prepared in advance for the conversation .

2. Rehearse

If several individuals on your team will be involved in a call to make a presentation to a client, make sure everyone knows in advance who will be taking the lead. As the initiator of the call, you are expected to start the discussion and ensure all necessary items are communicated and decided upon with the meeting time. Again, if several of you will be talking during the call its best to rehearse the presentation to make sure everything flows together and the transition among speakers is a smooth transition. It’s important to keep callers engaged and a smooth presentation is a good step in doing that. When a call seems disorganized and lacks an agenda attendees can start to tune out and focus on the work at their desk instead of engaging in the conversation.

3. Set Up in Advance

About 30 minutes prior to the call, confirm the phone number and access codes of the call and make sure that was the information sent in the meeting request. Check to make sure your conference call was set up for the right date, in the right time zone, and for a.m. or p.m. With some conference bridges, an error in one of those fields will block callers from dialing in. If you’re hosting the meeting in a conference room, make sure the web conferencing and phone conferencing lines are all in working order and turned on 15 minutes before the call begins. If you have to download any software for the call, make sure you’ve done that the day before the call on the machines you’ll be using. You’ll reduce the stress of your fellow participants if everything is flowing smoothly before the call even begins. Prior to the call beginning, make sure you know how to mute/unmute callers and how to record the presentation and/or audio portion. One last trick for success is to dial-in with the call participant information from your cell phone after you’ve activated the call to make sure everything is working correctly. Also, let a teammate that is not on the call know the log-in information so they can direct anyone who has misplaced the information how to join.

All of the time you’ve invested prior to the call will pay off in a successful call, saving you time in the long-run. And your participants will appreciate your respect for their time with your attention to detail in hosting a successful conference call.

 

By Rachel Rudisill

Meeting Notes: How to Write them Well

Have you ever been overwhelmed during a meeting because you couldn’t keep up with the discussion and still take notes? Or, have you gotten frustrated because you couldn’t understand or even read your meeting notes afterwards. If you’re not accustomed to taking notes, it’s important to learn how to write clear, organized, and detailed notes for every meeting from brainstorming sessions to board meetings.

Note taking is important because it helps you keep track of tasks and important information you’ll need to remember later. But, it can also be a little frustrating, especially if you aren’t a fast writer or if you don’t know what information to write down. To help you get the most out of the notes you take at your next meeting, follow these easy tips.

Remember the 5 W’s. Your notes should contain general information you can use as a reference when necessary. So, think like a reporter and don’t forget the 5 W’s when you take meeting notes.

  1. Who. Write down who was present at the meeting so you know where to go if you have questions or follow up information.
  2. What. Write down what the meeting is regarding.
  3. When. Take note of when the meeting took place, including date and time. This is especially important when you know you’ll have multiple meetings for an ongoing project.
  4. Where. Briefly note where the meeting was held to help jog your memory for details about the meeting later.
  5. Why. State why the meeting is important, including the purpose and determined goals.
    Having the following information may also be useful to you in case you have to give an account of the meeting, need to inform an absent team member about the details discussed, or when you need to refer back to the goals and objectives.

Focus on what’s important. In order to take clear and detailed notes, you need to understand what works for you. Being conscious of your writing pace will help you record the more important things as opposed to irrelevant things. It is impossible to catch everything that is discussed in a meeting, so you should listen more than you write. By carefully listening, you will ensure that you take down the most relevant information. Be sure to write things you know you will need to act upon later or specific information like dates, times, names, and places.

Use action words to write your notes and symbols. If the notes are for your personal use only, you don’t necessarily have to write full sentences. As long as you can understand them later, you’re successful. For example, if you were reminded of a task you were previously given via e-mail, instead of writing the task all over again, you can make a little note to yourself to check your e-mail. This will save you the time of writing too much down and becoming overwhelmed.

In addition to using action words, come up with a group of symbols to highlight information you don’t want to miss. Try using a star to mark information you need to remember or a checkbox or action items that you need to attend to. This will make your notes more organized and easier to understand later.

Don’t forget your ideas and questions. When taking notes, write any ideas or questions you may have in a designated section. This is important so you don’t forget what you want to say. It will also prevent you from interrupting or cutting somebody off during the meeting. By making notes of questions and ideas, you will remember them when it’s your turn to speak.

Create a to-do list. Have a to-do list in your notes. Specify who is responsible for accomplishing what tasks and the deadlines for each task. Don’t forget to add your action item symbol when the task concerns you. After the meeting is over, make sure to insert your tasks into your calendar or schedule so you can keep track of your to-do list in one location. This will help you actually remember to accomplish them.

Taking notes doesn’t have to be a pain. Just remember to cover important topics and write in a clear and succinct manner.

Getting to Know the C Suite – Advice for Dealing with Upper Management and Executives

EntryLevelLifeButton_E When you think of working with upper management or executives in your company, does it make you feel slightly nervous or make your heart start to beat fast because they hold so much power over your career? When you get into the work world, there will be times when you have to interact with executives on projects. So, make the most of the opportunities to impress your company’s management with these tips.

Be respectful of executives and their time.
When it’s time for you to meet with the vice president of marketing or the director of operations, be sure you are prepared for the meeting. People who work in upper level positions have a lot to focus on and a lot of meetings to attend. So, don’t waste their time. If the leader requests the meeting, ask in advance about what you need to bring. Be sure to research your topic of discussion, identify key talking points, and prepare a PowerPoint, Excel spreadsheet, graph, or document for the meeting as needed. Prepare questions you need answers to. Make it a point to be over prepared and have more knowledge about the meeting than you plan to use. And, always thank them for their time at the beginning and end of each meeting.

Reserve time on their schedule.
As mentioned above, managers and executives are busy. Be sure to reserve the appropriate amount of time on their calendar for your meeting with them. You may need to coordinate with an administrative assistant. If so, be sure to go through the right channels to book the correct time and space needed to meet. You can’t just walk into an executive’s office whenever you want to meet. To get their full attention and ensure uninterrupted time, be sure they receive and accept a meeting request. You may also want to follow-up with their assistant on the day of the meeting to make sure they are on schedule. Be flexible with your time when dealing with executives because something might happen prior to your meeting that requires you to reschedule with them for a later time.

Know how to address them. 
Do you address executives formally as Mr., Mrs., or Miss, or do you call them by their first name? This is something that may differ across the board depending on your company’s culture. At times, you might have an executive who is really personable and likes to joke around with everyone. But, if you address them informally, it could be offensive to them. You might have a Generation X manager who is more laid back and wouldn’t ever dream of anyone addressing them with a formal title. To be on the safe side, always address executives formally on the first meeting. From there, they can let you know a little more about their personality and specifically how to approach them in the future. After your meeting with them, if you’re still not sure how to address them, follow the lead of those around you, and when in doubt, be more formal. 

Always be honest and act with integrity.
When you’re in a meeting with upper management or executives, always be honest about what you know and don’t know. If, for example, someone unexpectedly asks you to report on the specifics of a project or how much something will cost and you don’t know the answer, don’t try to make something up to look good. Be up front and honest and let them know you don’t have the answer for them, but that you will research it and get back to them quickly. In most cases, they will respect you for your candor. Either way, it’s better to be honest than to fudge the truth and get found out later. 

Know your next plan of action when you leave the meeting.
Before the meeting is over, make sure you are aware of the next steps you need to take to complete a project. Know your key action items and any upcoming deadlines. If you are not clear about something, ask for clarification before the meeting is over. If you have any questions, be sure to ask. Sometimes you might be fearful of asking an executive a question because you’re afraid of what they will think of you. But, by speaking up and asking thoughtful questions, you’re letting them know you want to do a good job.

It’s important to realize that although those in upper management and executive positions hold some significant power within the company, they are still people too. There’s no reason to get worried about interacting with them. If you do get the opportunity, it is a sign that your employer trusts you and respects your work, and it’s an opportunity to learn from the very best in your organization.

Meeting Myths Revealed: Common Mistakes to Avoid

EntryLevelLifeButton_C Meetings are a common occurrence in the workplace. And, they are usually looked upon with the same excitement as a visit to the dentist. If the mention of a meeting makes you cringe or scream out of boredom, you’re not alone. Whatever your thoughts are about meetings, throughout your working career you will definitely sit in or lead your fair share of meetings. But, meetings don’t have to be boring or unproductive. When it’s your turn to lead your next department or team meeting, keep these common mistakes in mind and make sure you do the opposite to save your co-workers from another painfully bad and unproductive meeting wasting their time.  

I don’t need an agenda for every meeting. Don’t bother with an agenda if you want to have an infective meeting that doesn’t stay on track. But, if you want a good meeting, having an agenda is a must. In order to get where you want to go, you have to know where you’re going. Come to the meeting prepared with how it’s going to flow and what topics need to be discussed by the team. This will help keep the meeting focused, give it direction, and help it begin and end on time.

It’s not necessary to schedule a meeting on the calendar. Your co-workers will just remember that you want to meet with them in two weeks, won’t they? Wrong. It’s important that you use Outlook or software your company uses to book your next meeting on every attendee’s calendar. If you just send attendees an e-mail alerting them of the meeting, there’s a good chance it will get lost in their inbox and never added to a calendar. This means you might have co-workers forget to attend the meeting. Always be sure to get the meeting on their calendar so that they can be reminded of it. 

The meeting room is always available. Don’t assume there will be a space available for you and your team when it comes time to meet. When you’re creating the meeting and inviting attendees, be sure to check for conference room availability. Go ahead and reserve that room for the correct day and time. Include yourself as the contact person in case any questions or conflicts arise.

The attendees know what the meeting topic’s about. It’s important to remember that people can’t read your mind, so they don’t know what you’re thinking. No one likes to attend a meeting where they don’t know what will be discussed. When scheduling your meeting and creating the invitation for your co-workers, let them know in advance what the focus of the meeting will be. Also, let them know if they need to bring anything specific to the meeting or if they have a specific task to perform at the meeting or beforehand.

Everyone has to be in attendance. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “the more the merrier,” but in meeting situations this is not always true. When you have too many people attending a meeting it can turn into a nightmare to manage. When you schedule a meeting, keep in mind that not everyone has to or needs to attend. Only invite those individuals who absolutely need to be involved in the discussion. This will help you get the greatest outcome out of your meeting time and your co-workers will appreciate you for valuing their time.

It’s OK to start the meeting a few minutes late. What’s just a few minutes going to matter? Just know that those minutes are valuable. When you’re leading a meeting, always start on time. When someone sets a meeting, it’s important to show up and start on time – not five or 10 minutes late. When meetings don’t start when they’re supposed to, they usually don’t end when they should either. Time is a precious tool for many these days, and there is usually not a lot to spare for late meetings.

Meetings don’t have to be horrible. You can break the “awful meeting” mentality by being great at leading your meetings. Remember, you don’t have to lead a meeting because your boss has always led them a certain way. Everyone leads differently, but follow these tips along with the 5 Ws of Successful Meeting Management to showcase your great leadership abilities and be the meeting manager your workplace can’t live without.