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)

Advertisements

Job Seeker Top Tips

As you embark on your job search, the amount of job search methods on offer may seem daunting. Amongst the plethora of job boards, social networks, agencies and job fairs there are certainly plenty of different leads to choose from. We’ve set out the different tools at your disposal below and encourage you to work with all of them in order to multiply your chances of getting that elusive job offer.

Job Boards

Job boards are a great indicator of the jobs on offer and the state of the job market in general. The concept of job boards is straightforward: you can search for job offers and send in your CV and cover letter or you can post your CV as a speculative application. By registering with a job board, you will be able to save a keyword search tailored to your job search and receive job alerts suited to your profile. Nowadays, most job boards are available online with the big players in the job board domain being Monster, Career Builder, LinkedIn and APEC (for those residing in France).  In order to use job boards effectively, keep in mind to use a variety of job boards, such as broad-based job search engines such as Indeed and sector-specific search engines for example, Village de la Justice for the legal sector, to get the best return of results.

Recruitment Agencies

Many potential employers use recruitment agencies to handle their recruitments so they are an essential medium for you. Recruitment agencies are free for job searchers as it is the clients who pay for the service. The process of recruitment agencies is simple: you apply for a job advertised on their site or send in your CV and if successful, you will be called in for an interview. After the interview, the recruitment consultants will find the candidate suitable job offers and forward the candidate onto the prospective employer. The recruitment consultants should keep in touch with the candidate and deliver feedback to both the candidate and the client. A good recruitment agency will also advise you on your CV, interview technique and job search, potentially becoming  a career partner throughout your professional life. As above, there are broad based recruitment agencies and specialised agencies, for example TM International deals with the recruitment of bilingual admin jobs in Paris, so make the most of the variety of recruitment agencies on offer.

Social Networking

Businesses regularly use social networks to advertise job vacancies. Do your research, look for businesses you wish to target and follow their Facebook and Twitter accounts for their latest job offers.  Furthermore, take advantage of the Twitter hash tag and search for job vacancies that are suited to your profile. Keep your eye on the ball and visit business social network accounts regularly.

Professional Networking Sites

LinkedIn and Viadéo are where the majority of recruiters do their headhunting. In fact, a recent survey has shown that more than 98% of recruiters use LinkedIn, so this is a great way to look for jobs.  Catch HR managers’ attention with a complete profile with all professional experience, skills and recommendations included. Increase your online presence by participating in discussion groups and share articles of relevance in your domain. If you haven’t already got a profile on either of these sites, it is essential you sign up today!

Job Fairs and Networking

Direct contact with employers is a brilliant way to find jobs that aren’t openly on the recruitment radar. Websites such as LinkedIn and Meetup regularly advertise opportunities to meet prospective employers such as conferences, job fairs and after-work networking events. Make sure you sign up for them and come prepared with business cards with your contact details.  Don’t forget to contact your professional connections and friends to get the word out that you are seeking a job. Through your current contacts, you can reach their contacts in turn, one of which could be the key to your new job. To network effectively, it is necessary to chase up contacts, persevere and use all possible avenues!

What job seeking methods have worked for you recently? Which job boards or other job searching methods would you recommend?

The LinkedIn mistakes that you need to avoid.

In a job search – perhaps even more than in private life – it is close to impossible to avoid social media. We all know by now that sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are invaluable job search tools. Whether you share your details or not, it is safe to assume that your interviewer will google you at some point in the interview process, if they don’t go straight to LinkedIn and look up your profile directly! These are both easy ways for potential employers to use your online professional presence to get a feel for you as a person before they even meet you. For this reason, it is vital that you keep all social media accounts relevant, professional and up-to-date. As arguably the most valuable of all such tools, keeping your LinkedIn profile up to scratch is absolutely vital.

As is the case for all types of social media, LinkedIn is a tool to enable interaction; be it making new connections, developing existing professional relationships, or discussing content. In signing up for a LinkedIn account, users are stating that they want to make new connections and get noticed. This won’t happen if you lay low and just wait for the right person to stumble across your profile. LinkedIn Groups allow users to form communities based around a particular centre of interest; sharing and discussing content. This is an easy way to make connections and get noticed for your knowledge and opinions – and isn’t that exactly what we all want potential employers to notice? So post content and ask questions that you think might interest others to generate discussion. Make sure to show that you’re active too; reply to comments sent to you and let others know when they’ve made an interesting point!

As is human nature in many day-to-day situations, many LinkedIn users tend to hang back to see what others are doing before putting themselves out there and engaging in discussion. While this is wasting a valuable tool, it is also unadvisable to go too far and interact too much. LinkedIn allows users to link tweets to the site – in other words showing everything you write on Twitter to your LinkedIn connections too. While this might seem like a great way to step up interaction, it is a risky choice to make. LinkedIn and Twitter serve very different purposes and while Twitter can also be used as a valuable job search tool, many of us post more personal content on Twitter. Is that really relevant to show to connections you are making to further your job search? Instead, choose to link just relevant, selected tweets to your profile.

It is also important to avoid over-selling yourself. So you’ve sought out a connection, great. Wait a while before bombarding them with messages, queries and requests for help. Better still; see if they will contact you. While it is definitely unwise to sit back and wait for things to happen to you, you don’t want to put all your new connections off before they’ve even had a chance to look at your profile! Have patience, but do get in touch after a while if it’s suitable.

Your LinkedIn profile is a virtual representation of you – the only impression others can get without actually meeting you! While it may seem obvious, many users ignore just how important it is to ensure their profile is complete. An incomplete profile will make you come across as sloppy and unprofessional. We have all heard that profile photos are important, but countless users nevertheless ignore this completely. The eye is first drawn to the space usually taken up by a photo, so a lack thereof is noticed straight away, perhaps also suggesting a lack of attention to detail.

A complete profile gives you the best possible chance to come up in searches, optimising your chances of the right people finding your profile and developing the right connections. Another tool offered by LinkedIn that many of us refrain from using is recommendations. You can leave a recommendation for a past colleague, which will usually prompt them to leave one for you. Just like a review for a book or film, LinkedIn recommendations encourage others to believe in your profile.

Finally, many users are unaware that Linkedin offers personalised URLs. This means that your whole name or keywords describing your profession can come up at the end of your URL rather than the jumble of letters and numbers that are generated automatically. Not only does this personalisation look more professional, it also helps your profile’s SEO (helping your profile feature highly in searches). This change can be made through a quick adjustment in your account settings, so there’s no excuse not to! Key words are enormously helpful for your SEO, but not just in your URL. They are also useful in descriptions of what you’re looking for and previous work experience.

LinkedIn is undoubtedly a fantastic job search tool. Pro-activity will ensure that you get noticed by others for your interests and opinions and a complete profile will help you come up in searches. With just a little time and attention, your profile will be optimised to support your job search.

Good Luck!

The Dangerous World of LinkedIn

 

LinkedIn’s a great social network. Currently home to 145+ million users, it has a growth rate that is quite simply astonishing. It’s great for job seekers, it’s great for recruiters and it unquestionably rules the world of B2B. So basically it’s great, right?

Well, yes but as with everything in life it’s got its drawbacks. I’ve spoken previously about how LinkedIn can be an incredibly beneficial tool for job seekers (and of course other professionals) but today I want to discuss its dangers. What are the risks involved when using a LinkedIn account and what should you be avoiding?

I’m going to start with one of the hottest topics at the moment when it comes to social networking. This is something which has sparked global debate, and outrage in certain cases, and is probably the no.1 danger of LinkedIn. This is of course privacy. Now I’ve talked about privacy a little bit previous to this but in that case I chose to concentrate on the social media giant, Facebook (so if you’re worried about your privacy on Facebook then feel free to take a little look at that). But, as the title quite bluntly underlines, today is all about LinkedIn.

The problem with a social network is exactly that; it’s social. And the problem with that is the extreme difficultly to be simultaneously social whilst maintaining details about yourself to yourself. But the privacy issue with LinkedIn is not the same as it is with Facebook, or other social networks for that matter. In fact LinkedIn is one of the better social networking sites when it comes to account and profile privacy. The problem here lies in the user’s desire to share things about themselves without thinking carefully about who is going to see them. I’ll give you an example. I read an article on Forbes the other day which described the case of John Flexman, an employee of the gas exploration firm BG Group. I’m not going to go into too much detail about this specific case but basically Flexman had ticked the box highlighting his interest in “career opportunities” which resulted in him being fired. As crazy as that may seem, this is not an isolated incident. The details which you post on LinkedIn are going to be looked at, so make sure not to include information which could easily be misinterpreted!

But it’s not just selecting the options that LinkedIn gives you that causes problems. Many of you job seeking LinkedIn users will have included a summary on your profile. A little blurb about yourself which you think sums you up. Unfortunately, the way you describe yourself may not look as good through someone else’s eyes as it sounds in your head. I’ve read countless summaries which include paragraphs of irrelevant waffle that will immediately turn a potential employer into someone who’s never going to look at your profile again. Remember there’s difference between LinkedIn and a network like Facebook. Yes, LinkedIn is a social network but it’s also the professional one. I’m not saying you should make your profile over professional and incredibly boring but if you’re a job seeker my advice to you is simple: Use the summary as your job pitch. Tell them, whoever they might be, why you should get the job. Keep your stories about your crazy hobbies etc for your personal friends.

Another thing which is partially relevant to the privacy issue is the profile picture. Whoever visits your profile, or comes across you in a search, the first thing they will look at is your profile picture. So you would think the users of the professional network would take this into consideration and upload a suitable picture. Yet, the number of times I have come across a picture of someone drinking a beer or lying on a beach is quite simply astonishing. It’s fair enough that you want your LinkedIn profile to have personality, but a silly profile picture is not the way to go.

So there are just a few things which can cause problems on LinkedIn. Whether you’re a job seeker or currently employed the overall message is the same: Don’t rush the creation of your LinkedIn profile, don’t throw LinkedIn into the same pile as Facebook and ultimately make sure every bit of information, text or anything else that is visible is something you want people to see. And most importantly, if you avoid the problems, LinkedIn really is a great tool.

The Modern Assistant: Why you need to be using social media

Why Secretaries and Executive Assistants should use social media

Social Media is going to become the key for business survival. It is not unlikely that, in the future, social media may even become more important than a company’s website. Refusal to accept this threatens to result in failure. However, plenty of executives and “higher-ups” are uninterested in learning about it or adopting it themselves, and therefore an opportunity arises for others.

An Assistant or Secretary with a knowledge and understanding of social media could become as attractive as one with a foreign language. After all, social media as a concept seems as daunting as learning a foreign language for many of the “old school.” If you can grasp the importance of social media in today’s business environment then you can give yourself a competitive advantage over others and with the job market as it is, it is necessary to stand out to survive.

As an assistant who can implement a social media strategy you can offer your company greater networking and marketing capabilities and ultimately business development, which in turn can provide you with a more interesting and more important role within the company as well as a higher potential income.

How Secretaries and Executive Assistants should use social media

I am of course not saying that you have to become an expert and control your company’s entire social media operation. Running social media can easily become a full time job in itself and therefore it would be difficult to add such a task to your existing responsibilities. However, with a good strategy and understood purpose, you (and any other assistants you work with) can take on certain roles which will benefit your company.

This could be anything from setting up an account for your company on Twitter to increase networking opportunities, to setting up a Facebook page to connect with existing and potential customers.  Just being able to improve your company’s presence online can prove beneficial.

Therefore my advice to Secretaries and Assistants would be to get accustomed with social media. Keep up to date with changes by using it regularly and by reading articles. Give yourself the best chance of getting employed, or becoming invaluable to your existing employers, and stand out in the crowd. After all, social media is the future.

Will Facebook and Google make LinkedIn obsolete?

At the time of this blog being written, LinkedIn is the number one professional network. It is home to around 116 million users, a number which continues to climb. Its profits have risen and its stock remains buoyant. It operates within its own niche, tactically deciding to avoid competing against the social network powerhouse that is Facebook. It seems to be doing everything right, so why is there the feeling that this may change in the future?

Well, there has been a lot of debate recently surrounding the battle for social dominance. Facebook, the current King of the social networks, is now not looking so comfortable on its throne. As I have discussed in previous posts, Google+ is on the rise and poised to take that crown. But what’s this got to do with LinkedIn?

It is clear that Facebook itself has purposefully avoided targeting the professional crowd and Google+ has only just begun its exploits in the world of “social business,” and it certainly hasn’t outlined plans  to target professionals from the get go. But as the struggle for dominance grows it is becoming clear that the only way to win/succeed will be to offer new, and better, features for users.

Unfortunately for LinkedIn, the job market and the professional crowd seem the perfect area for Facebook and/or Google to expand into. With these two internet giants entering into this niche, and therefore directly competing with LinkedIn, it spells trouble for the current, almost unchallenged, professional network. Now, I’m not suggesting that this is going to happen right away, but what must be underlined is that it really is a question of “when” rather than “if”. It is a natural progression for both Google and Facebook and it’s one of the key strategies to keep the competition alive. But can we just write off LinkedIn?

Well, a lot of people are. LinkedIn has experienced a barrage of criticism recently and there have been a number of hints at its potential downfall. The “problem” associated with LinkedIn is that it’s boring. There’s no sex appeal and a clear lack of imagination in its creative team. Although it does have an impressive user-base, the number of unique visitors is much lower and many current users have admitted to ignoring the site. So does this mean that LinkedIn is heading for a fall?

Well, not necessarily.

Yes, LinkedIn isn’t the sexiest social site and it’s not one that constantly updates and adds new features to enthrall its user-base, but it never wanted to or said it was going to.

LinkedIn is the professional network.

I would happily bet that an overwhelming majority of LinkedIn users also have a Facebook profile. This is simply because they want to separate their personal and professional lives, and this seems the general consensus amongst my colleagues and my friends. LinkedIn has been described as social media with no buzz and no sex appeal. For example: Facebook can get you friends, Twitter and YouTube can make you famous but LinkedIn is unexciting and unstylish.

Whilst I do agree that it could use a “sprucing up” I also feel it’s important to stress that it isn’t a site with no buzz. The buzz, or appeal, of LinkedIn is that it can get you a job or get you more business. So do I think it’s just going to disappear whilst Facebook and Google take the reins?

In a word, no. LinkedIn isn’t going to just disappear any time soon. It has a loyal (and growing) user base and remains the preferred professional network. LinkedIn’s critics say its downfall will be a result of its lack of sex appeal, but what they don’t seem to have recognized is that the LinkedIn user-base don’t want sexy, they want professional. The young users want jobs and the older executives want to generate business. That said, Facebook and/or Google are sure to start targeting the professional crowd in the coming months and they will be prepared to fight for market share. What is certain is that it promises to be an interesting future for social business. But if you remember one thing, let it be that LinkedIn will not go down without a fight.