Monthly Archives: October 2012

Take the “Thanksgiving Unplugged” Challenge

I’m so excited to share with all of my blog readers a new campaign co-authored by a dear friend mine. Diane Gottsman is the owner of the Protocol School of Texas and has joined with Thomas Farley in creating “Thanksgiving Unplugged”.  The campaign challenges Americans to disconnect from their digital devices before sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner this year.  Please visit www.thanksgivingunplugged.com to take the challenge yourself.  I wholeheartedly get behind this idea.  I am even going to go a step farther in pledging to walk away from my digital devices during all business meetings during the month of November.  Unless it is a real emergency, I will not be distracted.  As the old adage states, the most important person in a given moment is the person in front of you.

When reading about Diane and Thomas’s “Unplugged” campaign, I couldn’t help but think about how bad all of us have gotten with taking our digital devices to meetings and meals.  Yes, we use these devices to take notes and maybe send the occasional emergency text or accept the occasional call from our kids, but is it REALLY that important to check our email during business meetings?  What if we all went back to life before our devices and held calls while we were meeting or dining with someone else whether that be business or pleasure?

I hope all of my readers take the “Thanksgiving Unplugged” challenge, and as a test run, practice by not looking at your digital devices during your business meetings and meals this week.  Just like before the cell phone, hold all calls except for emergencies.  And I mean real emergencies.

Please share your experiences as you go through this week, and most importantly, let me know if you decide to take the “Thanksgiving Unplugged challenge.  Thank you Diane and Thomas for creating such a powerful opporutnity.

 

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Minding Your Business Manners

How many of you heard “Mind Your Manners” as a kid?  I know I was raised to “mind my manners” in someone else’s home, in church, with family, in public–basically everywhere.   Phrases such as please, thank you, you’re welcome, in addition to proper behavior were right up there with the Golden Rule.

In your professional life, “minding your manners” can make the difference between moving forward in your career or staying stagnant.  For job seekers, poor manners can keep them from potential jobs and career paths.  It’s no secret that many business deals happen over a breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings.  Many a business deal has gone sour due to poor manners in dining etiquette.  In addition, the simple gesture as a thank you has become such a lost art that it now an exception that actually propels professionals and job seekers into an elite category.  Such a simple gesture as saying thank you can make you different.  WOW!  In today’s world of online job postings and the “black hole” feeling of those who apply for jobs online, I am constantly being asked how to stand out.  Can you believe that simply saying thank you can do just that?

Here is a quick list of best practices in joining this elite group of well-mannered business professionals:

1.  Always write a thank you note within 24 hours of an interview, business meal, reception, mentoring conversation, etc.

2. In addition to writing a thank you note after a business conversation, always write a thank you note if you receive a gift, scholarship or award.

2. Circle back to people who give you advice in business and keep them updated on your progress based on their recommendations.

3. Say “You’re Welcome” or “My Pleasure” as opposed to “No Problem.”  No problem may be a norm in our society, but it is not the appropriate response to someone say thank you.

4.  Brush up on basic dining etiquette before attending a business meal or reception of any kind.  You have no idea how noticeable and basically gross it is to watch someone use poor table manners.  Use your utensils properly, don’t eat with your hands, don’t chew with your mouth open, etc.  If others at your table struggles with finishing their meal due to your poor table manners, chances are the business you are hoping to solidify during that meal will not go your way.

5.  Treat everyone you meet in business with the utmost respect.  Receptionists, executive assistants, and custodial staff are often watching potential candidates and will report on the way they are treated.

There are so many more examples to note, so this short list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.   Please note I am not telling anyone they have to poor over etiquette books, nor am I saying that everyone has to have perfect manners to succeed in business.  My point is that you will positively set yourself apart from other job seekers and career managers by exercising basic manners.  Be appreciative.  Be respectful.   Mind Your Business Manners, and you will Be noticed.

 

 

Be Original – Write a Thank You Note

Do you know that the percentage of job seekers who send thank you notes after an interview is less than 25 percent?  Would you be even more shocked to know that the percentage of people who send hand-written thank you notes is less than 15 percent?  Talk about a missed opportunity.  If nothing else, a thank you note is sign of respect to the person who spent time with you.  Always send a thank you note.  No ifs, ands or buts with this one.  Always send a thank you note.

Job seekers ask me whether they should send an email or a hand-written thank you note after an interview or networking meeting — send both.  Anemail is sent and received within 24 hours and provides a reminder at the end of the day for the interviewer.  Maybe the interviewer had a complete day of interviews, and your time slot was first thing that morning.  Your thank you email reminds the interviewer of your conversation.  Email thank you notes provide an opportunity to write a line or two touching back to a topic of your conversation as well as a reminder of your interest in the position.

A hand-written note, while written within 24 hours, is not received until three to four days after your discussion.  Write a quick thank you (even if you have poor handwriting) and include a business card.  You have space to write a short statement concerning something discussed in the interview, but the purpose of this quick note is to provide a different message from the email note.  A hand-written note shows your intiative and personal attention.  You took the time to find this person’s physical mailing address, you wrote out the note, addressed the envelope, put a stamp on the envelope and took the envelope to the mailbox.  It seems exhausting doesn’t it?  At one point in time, everyone practiced this method of communication.  Today, very few send letters through the US Postal Service.  By writing a hand-written note, you are immediately setting yourself apart from at the very least 75 percent of all job seekers.  That’s remarkable.  What used to be common practice has become quite original.  So be original and get back to basics.

The devil is in the details.  And taking the time to extend a proper thank you is a major detail you can’t afford to miss.