This One Vital Tip Could Make You a Better Networker…

Have you ever been introduced to someone only to forget his or her name seconds later?  You’re not alone; just look what happened to presenter Charlie Stayt when he seemed to momentarily forget his co-presenter Susanna Reid’s name live on the BBC news.  His bumbled excuses make for awkward viewing and certainly don’t seem to go down too well with Susanna. 

So, why does remembering somebody’s name make such a difference?

As Dale Carnegie, arguably the most acclaimed careers coach in history wrote back in 1936, ‘a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language’.  Decades later, it’s the one piece of advice which still holds true.  It’s the ticket to making a connection with someone in a few moments, the difference between him or her wanting to walk away or continue the conversation.  That’s why salesmen always address customers by their first name.  On a conscious level, you might think it invasive, but on an unconscious level, the moment you hear your name your engagement level shoots right up.  In the world of networking, this knowledge can be a powerful tool.  If you can remember someone’s name, especially after a single introduction, networking events will suddenly seem a lot easier.  And it all starts with one little tip: having a genuine interest in others.

A psychology professor has asserted that there is no such thing as being naturally talented at remembering names but that the ability stems from being interested in others[1].  Those who genuinely care about forming relationships and learning about other people are more likely to recall names.  So, what does this mean for you?  While you can no longer excuse yourself on the basis that you’re “bad with names”, you needn’t resign yourself to the fact that you can’t get better.  Here are a few tips:

  • Number one: Listen. How many times has someone been introducing himself or herself to you and rather than listen, you’ve been trying to think of what to say next?  The next time you’re in this situation: listen, look out for the name and mentally log it.
  • The best advice I ever received was to repeat the person’s name following the introduction. “Hi, I’m Susan”.  “Nice to meet you, Susan.  I’m Tanya”.  The act of repeating the name aloud will further cement it in your memory.
  • Don’t rely on name tags. These prevalent white stickers are evidence that you’re not alone in your toil, which can be reassuring.  However, as Joyce Russell points out, if you rely on name tags, you’re not actually making an effort to learn names.  The result? They’re in one ear and out the other in seconds.
  • If you particularly struggle, then this is a useful tip proposed by Kristi Hedges.  If you meet a Jessica and your aunt is called Jessica, make a connection.  The next time you meet her, you’ll immediately think this person has the same name as my aunt.
  • If the person’s name is less common and you don’t know anyone with that name, word association can help.  Think “Henrietta likes hens”.  The next time you and Henrietta cross paths, you’ll picture her carrying a hen and with that, you’ll recall her name.

Now for the golden question: can you remember the name of either of the BBC presenters mentioned in paragraph one?  If you can, take advantage of this skill when networking.  If not, you might want to have another look at those tips above!

For more useful advice, take a look at our website and, if you’re looking for a job, why not consult our latest offers?

[1] Kansas State University. “What’s your name again? Lack of interest, not brain’s ability, may be why we forget.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620113027.htm (accessed November 27, 2014)

L’Elevator pitch… C’est quoi exactement ?

C’est l’anglicisme qui est entré en vigueur dans la langue française quand on parle du recrutement.  Mais, savez-vous ce qu’il en est précisément ?  Bref, c’est un micro discours de deux minutes ou moins qui vous permet de vous présenter aux gros bonnets que vous rencontrez par hasard, soit dans l’ascenseur ou soit dans le métro, avec l’objet de décrocher une prochaine rencontre professionnelle.

Son nom, elevator pitch, fait référence à la durée du temps qu’on passerait dans l’ascenseur et qu’on aurait pour se présenter à quelqu’un.  Auparavant, ce petit discours était uniquement réservé aux entrepreneurs qui cherchaient à promouvoir leur produit aux investisseurs potentiels.  Mais aujourd’hui, alors que les gens sont considérés de plus en plus comme des produits et que l’on parle souvent du personal branding, ce discours sert un but additionnel : vendre ses attributs personnels.  L’importance d’être toujours prêt à se lancer dans ce mini speech n’a jamais été si urgente.  Mais comment réussir votre elevator pitch ?  Voilà plusieurs astuces…

C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron

Il est bien connu qu’il n’est pas toujours facile de parler de soi.  Pour vous empêcher de bafouiller au moment critique, il faut faire le bilan de votre discours bien en avance et vous entraîner à le prononcer aux autres.  Soyez capable de résumer votre carrière à ce jour, misant l’accent sur vos réussites mais sans donner l’impression d’être vantard.  Il faut tenir compte du fait que cette personne que vous venez de rencontrer n’a pas demandé un entretien avec vous, c’est juste un petite rencontre à fort potentiel.  Donc soyez concis et captivant.

Semblez naturel

Bien que vous ayez préparé ce que vous allez dire en avance, il est toujours important d’être naturel.  Si votre parole paraît scolaire, vous courez le risque de ne pas sembler sincère, ou pire encore, d’embêter votre interlocuteur.  Certes, identifiez les points à inclure mais improvisez aussi.  C’est l’équilibre très difficile à atteindre…

Enfin l’aspect controversé

Certains gens recommanderaient que vous ajoutiez une note personnelle afin de capter l’attention de votre interlocuteur et pour qu’il se souvienne de vous.  Pourtant, bien que votre rencontre ne soit pas un entretien formel, limitez votre conversation à la sphère professionnelle pour ne pas faire mauvaise impression.

Toutes choses considérées, il faut être toujours prêt à prendre la parole et faire du charme à chaque instant.  Après tout, on ne sait jamais qui on pourrait rencontrer dans l’ascenseur !

Si vous avez apprécié ces conseils, alors n’hésitez pas à consulter les autres articles de notre Blog ici et pourquoi pas, nos offres actuelles ?

Volunteer and Boost Your Career

Have you seen the Ebola awareness banner at the top of your Facebook News Feed this week?  Corporate philanthropy, the sentiment of businesses giving back or serving the local community, is not new on the scene and has long been a key priority for companies.  Yet in the viral age a company’s charitable power can stretch much further.  Through its current campaign, Facebook is reaching out to one in nine people in the world to raise money for the Ebola epidemic.  While Facebook’s following might be slightly larger than most, companies can do a lot of good by promoting charitable causes to their online audience.  And photos of employees helping out members of the local community on Twitter and Facebook don’t do any harm for the company image either.  Philanthropic?  Yes, although there is equally some business sense behind it all…

Inspiring and motivating staff

Primarily, we’re talking about employee engagement.  Setting aside time at work to devote to making a difference increases employee satisfaction by a 2:1 ratio according to Net Impact’s report.  Those who have the option to make a positive contribution to society through work feel their role is more fulfilling, thereby enhancing employee performance.  Furthermore, team volunteering can improve staff morale and increase company loyalty – the benefits speak for themselves.

Attracting the best talent

What’s more, a happy workforce has a knock-on effect on the recruitment side of the picture.  Nowadays, a company’s social reputation says a lot to future employees and can be the distinctive trigger in a job seeker’s decision.  Equally, from a recruiter’s point of view, Deloitte found that among US employers “Skilled volunteering can improve a job candidate’s chances of getting hired”.  This isn’t surprising when you consider the transferrable skills gained through voluntary experience; those of time management, teamwork and commitment to name a few.  First and foremost though, choosing to volunteer indicates that you have an interest in other people, which is likely to stand you in good stead when applying for a job.

What to write on your CV

So, as more and more companies jump on the benevolence bandwagon, it’s a good idea to include your voluntary experience on your CV.  Now then, how best to present it?

  • List your voluntary experience under the ‘Related Experience’ heading. If you have significant voluntary experience, you could consider creating a new heading altogether, although this is only recommended if you have worked for several organisations.
  • Keep a log of your responsibilities when volunteering. This will prove useful when it comes to writing your CV or preparing for an interview.
  • Keep in touch with your contacts from the organisation as they could serve as your referees. If possible, ask them for a recommendation on LinkedIn.
  • Before an interview, ensure that you have read up on the company’s social and ethical commitments. This will allow you to discuss some of the projects which particularly appeal to you and in which you would like to get involved should you receive an offer.

Finally and most importantly, in a world of such inequality, doing your bit to help others is everyone’s responsibility; companies and individuals alike.  It’s never too late to volunteer…

If you found this advice useful, head to our blog for similar tips.  To consult our latest job offers, look here.

Are company perks going too far?

Before we entered into the third millennium, you could be forgiven for thinking that you were lucky if your job offered a sturdy salary and an attractive pension package.  But oh, how times have changed!  A recent trend has seen large companies push the boat out even further with regard to corporate perks.  From pampering to poodles (read on!), and even naptime, businesses are taking ever greater measures to attract the best candidates.  Yet is the talent deficit really so great that companies need to offer such extreme incentives?

The technology giants have long been ahead of the curve with their fancy employee packages.  Employees at Google travel to and from work on company buses, receive subsidized massages, nap when the stress gets too much and even bring their dogs to work (poodles explained!).  In a similar fashion, Apple recently installed a high-tech wellness centre at its HQ in California where the wait time for appointments is reportedly only five minutes and consultancy rooms boast iPads and Macs in the place of standard paperwork.  Such perks evidently place employee wellbeing at the forefront of the business while also fostering a creative environment, arguably necessary to attract the imaginative calibre of candidates needed within technology.

However, recently this trend has started spreading beyond Silicon Valley to other sectors too: SC Johnson, a family-owned household brands company, offers a personal concierge service to all employees and Richard Branson caused a stir when he announced that all Virgin employees would receive unlimited holiday.  Yet are these the benefits that employees really want?

Interestingly, Mindflash has revealed a large discrepancy between what employees say they want and what their employers think they want.  Employees rated “full appreciation for work done” as their most important concern, whereas employers prioritised “good wages”.  It just shows then, that emotional support is still valued over practical incentives, since “feeling ‘in’ on things” and “sympathetic help on personal problems” came a close second and third on employees’ lists.  Take a look at the full infographic here.

What’s more, there’s a strong case for arguing that these new incentives excessively merge the personal and professional spheres.  Providing a ping pong table at work might foster camaraderie among employees but it can’t replace a social life outside of the office.  Does the creation of such an environment suggest that life starts and ends at work?  Facebook and Apple’s offer to freeze female employees’ eggs takes a literal approach to this.  While it gives women more flexibility regarding when they choose to start a family, buying an employee’s fertility could give off the unnerving message that her career should always come first.  Should your company’s principles override your own?

The question to pose, then, is to what extent should a company be responsible for employee wellbeing?  Does this trend towards a provide-all package foster a more loyal and committed relationship between the company and the employee or could these latest incentives alternatively be interpreted as invasive?  Just some food for thought…

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