Exit Your Comfort Zone and Become a Networking Pro

networking
This is an excerpt from Ambition Redefined: Why the Corner Office Doesn’t Work for Every Woman and What to do Instead by Kathryn Sollman. Kathryn is a recognized leader in helping women navigate the many stages of work and life.

Become a Networking Pro

One of my coaching clients, a 56-year-old woman from California who was navigating her way back to the workforce, realized she needed to network far out of her comfort zone. She emailed me this question:

I have connections at organizations where I’d love to work in a flexible way, but they are either people I’m not close to or people I don’t feel comfortable approaching. Call it anxiety or an old-fashioned sense that I’d be “using” them to get a job, but it’s an obstacle for me. How do I get over this? Just be pleasant and directly state what I want? That’s it, done?

Yes, that’s pretty much it. Here’s how to do it well:

 

“The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone.” -Karen Salmansohn

 

Establish even a very loose connection.

Networking involves a shared connection, not just out-of-the-blue cold calls to strangers. Networking connections do not need to be people you know well: you can establish connections through relatives, school or employer alumni groups, club members, or a friend of a friend of a friend. Figure out how to give your connection the comfort level of knowing that in some way you are connected. It could be as simple as having children in the same soccer league or being connected to the same person on LinkedIn.

 

Be specific about the help you need.

No one wants to hear, “I’d just like to pick your brain about flexible fundraising jobs.”  That’s a conversation that could wander aimlessly with no easy end. Busy people want to slot you in for a quick brain dump of specific information they have at hand. A better approach would be, “I’m trying to get an idea of how most large fundraising departments are allocating part-time responsibilities among functions, and I’d like to see how yours is structured in relation to peer organizations.” If you lay this out in an email or LinkedIn message, your connection can think about and summarize a worthwhile, bite-sized response. This very focused networking request would help you gather information about where and how your skills and experience would most likely fit at your connection’s organization and many others. When you ask a dozen networking connections the same question, you start gathering valuable anecdotal research.

 

Limit the amount of time your connection needs to invest.

How to Recruit, Retain, and Advance Remarkable Women

women leadership

Gender Equality

Not too long ago, I read a new book on gender equality in the workplace. I’ve read many of these types of books but this one was from a different perspective. Rania Anderson’s company, The Way WoMen Work, is specifically geared toward helping male business leaders obtain the skills and perspectives needed to intentionally advance women.

Rania realized long ago that many men want to support women at work but don’t know the best way to do so.

In her new book, WE: Men, Women, and the Decisive Formula for Winning at Work, Rania not only explains the benefits of recruiting, retaining, and advancing high-caliber women, but she also provides hands-on advice on how to do it.

 

Ernst and Young Study: Over 50 percent of leaders said they need to do more to attract, retain, and promote women to leadership positions.

 

A Surprising Question

In your book, you mention that, while at companies working with women, men were often stopping you to ask for help. Many men want to know how to work more effectively with women. Given the many years of focus on diversity, did this surprise you?

It did. After I was approached a few times, I recognized that many men are ready to transform their workplaces and the way they work and lead with women.

Some are motivated by talent shortages. Others are under pressure to innovate and understand the changing needs of consumers, many of whom are women. They recognize that they cannot win by continuing to rely on half the talent pool.

Yet others want to have flexibility in their work environment and recognize that the changes that women want in the workplace would also benefit them.

The motivations of the men that spoke to me were varied, but what they were asking for was the same – to no longer be left out of the conversation and to be invited to be part of the solution.

 

“Just as companies measure return on equity, there’s also a demonstrated return on equality.” -Rania Anderson

 

The Benefits of Gender Diversity

10 Elements of Treating People with Dignity

leadership

Treat People with Dignity

 

In her latest book, Leading with Dignity, author Donna Hicks shared ten elements of dignity that caught my attention. With permission, I would like to share the ten elements which she derived from her research and interviews.

Her book is well-worth the read for anyone interested in leadership. Here are the ten elements from the book answering the question:

What does it look like to treat people with dignity?

 

Excerpted from Leading with Dignity: How to Create A Culture That Brings Out the Best in People, by Donna Hicks. Copyright © 2018 by Donna Hicks. Excerpted by permission of Yale University Press. All rights reserved.

 

Acceptance of Identity.

Approach people as being neither inferior nor superior to you; give others the freedom to express their authentic selves without fear of being negatively judged; interact without prejudice or bias, accepting that characteristics such as race, religion, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, and disability are at the core of their identities.

 

Recognition.

Validate others for their talents, hard work, thoughtfulness, and help; be generous with praise; give credit to others for their contributions, ideas, and experience.

 

“Praise, like sunlight, helps all things to grow.” -Croft Pentz

 

Acknowledgment.

Give people your full attention by listening, hearing, validating, and responding to their concerns and what they have been through.

Inclusion.

Make others feel that they belong, at all levels of relationship (family, community, organization, and nation).

Communication Tips from Don Hutson

Communication Tips

Public speaking is not only a common fear, but it is also one of the most important skills if you want to see rapid promotions at work. I previously shared 7 Reasons Why You Should Improve Your Public Speaking. It is an incredibly important skill.

Don Hutson is a world class public speaker and past President of the National Speakers Association. His decades of experience made him the perfect person to sit down and discuss the art of public speaking.

Don has also authored or co-authored fourteen books. Two of them The One Minute Entrepreneur and The One Minute Negotiator have been Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestsellers.

 

“The number 1 antidote to fear is preparation.” -Don Hutson

 

In this video interview, I talk to Don about:

  • The importance of preparation.
  • How to overcome your fear of public speaking.
  • Techniques to handle hecklers.
  • 3 Tips to improve your speaking skills.

 

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5 Ways to Transform the Rules of Brand Legacy Building

brand legacy

Build A Brand Legacy

 

How do you build and maintain a brand legacy?

What do leaders often get wrong in building a brand?

Mark Miller and Lucas Conley are the authors of Legacy in the Making: Building a Long-Term Brand to Stand Out in a Short-Term World. Miller is the founder of The Legacy Lab, a research and consulting practice, and the chief strategy officer at Team One. Conley is the executive editor of The Legacy Lab and a former researcher for The Atlantic and staff writer for Fast Company.

 

“The best short-term strategy is a long-term one.” -Miller and Conley

 

5 Brand Building Errors

What do most leaders get wrong when they’re thinking about legacy?

We’ve learned a lot about how leaders build and maintain brand legacies since Mark founded The Legacy Lab in 2012. Over the years, we’ve identified five things traditional business leaders tend to do wrong today:

1) Think institutionally: Traditional brand leaders buy in to management systems and institutional processes with the goal of keeping up with market trends.

2) Lean into attitude over action: Traditional brand leaders imagine their brands first from the outside in, believing that what they say and how they posture matters more than what they do.

3) Practice command and control: Traditional brand leaders hoard information and tell customers what to do, striving for category dominance and sales superiority.

4) Follow category orthodoxy: Traditional brand leaders focus on mastering rules (e.g., “business is about making profits”) and take conventional wisdom for granted (e.g., “there are no profits in altruism”), all in the interest of maintaining the status quo.

5) Evolve episodically: Traditional brand leaders tend to grow stale by repeating the past (rarely innovating) or lose their identity by renouncing it (innovating everything at once). Both are examples of episodic evolution.

Once these were the accepted rules of brand-building. In the modern era these methods now amount to short-term thinking. And while short-term thinking may sound appropriate for our short-term world, we learned that it’s actually the long-term thinkers who make faster, sharper decisions. This is because, no matter the market trends, long-term thinkers know where they’re going. This counterintuitive insight—that the best short-term strategy is a long-term one—is at the heart of our book.

 

“Modern legacy brands are not museums.” -Miller and Conley

 

Your book highlights various leading organizations. How did you go about choosing them?