How to Make a Proper Business Introduction

Lisa Lillien aka Hungry Girl and I, May 2008.
Lisa Lillien aka Hungry Girl and I, May 2008.

I am in the business of connecting others; ok, maybe not so much “in the business” but I know I do this on a near-daily basis, especially here in Denver. It is just a natural skill I have (I “blame” it on my dad). If you struggle with how to properly introduce people to each other (especially via email), here are steps to making that introduction effective:

1. Talk with both parties individually first – I do this to make sure that both parties would be interested in talking with one another. This is out of pure courtesy; I would want someone to tell me they’re making an introduction on my behalf before they actually follow through with the action. Who knows, maybe someone is not interested in “meeting other people” at the time. Save yourself some time by just checking in on both parties first.

2. Send the email to both parties – Yes, but follow this format:

Hi Sally and Tom,

I would like to introduce the two of you to one another because I believe you would work well together/can do business together/fill in the blank.

Sally, Tom __(fill in profession, business, etc. here)______.

Tom, Sally __(fill in profession, business, etc. here)______.

Hope you guys can connect!

Sincerely,

Helene

3. (If you are on the receiving end of an introduction) Reply all to the email (the other party & your colleague) – Thank your colleague for making the introduction and start discussing with the new colleague about possibly meeting up for coffee and talking. I suggest “reply all” just because it’d be nice for your colleague making the introduction to see that you have taken the next step. Another courtesy move…

4. If the thread moves forward between you and the new colleague, remove the introducer from the email thread – Mainly just to not clog up another email box; the introducer only needs to be included in the first email between you and your new colleague.

And there you have it: colleagues connecting with one another, thanks to you! If the introduction does not pan out to anything more than that, that is okay. You have done your job in the situation and should move on at this point. Hope this helps!

5 Tips To Keep Momentum Going in Your Job Search

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The road ahead may look bleak at times, but don’t give up!

Spring is around the corner, so many students are gearing up for graduation and the post-college job search. Are you in the midst of that job search already? It can be difficult to maintain that excitement and motivation in sending out your resume and cover letter countless times. I know, I’ve been there; I remember my family would tell me “Keep pounding the pavement!” but at times, I’d just want to stay home and sleep instead of mortifying myself with another rejection.

So, let’s look at a few things you could do now to keep going until you land that job:

  1. Keep track of which companies/positions you have applied to – Important, and definitely will save you when you’re perusing through the same jobs board. I used to save every job posting into a Word document so I’d know which one I had applied to; I also would keep an Excel sheet with the status of the application. Granted, I did this back before Evernote or any other tracking apps were around. However you choose to execute this task, do it in a way that will keep you organized and moving forward.
  2. Follow up with any outstanding applications with a phone call or an email – Check your list of job applications: are there any where you can contact someone at the company to follow up? Do this a week after you’ve submitted your application or after you’ve had an interview; send a quick note or a quick phone call (depending on the size of the company!) just asking about the status of your application. Be polite and, if the company is a smaller one, you may get a response (and maybe even get priority because the manager will remember your name!). Better to know now and plan your next action right away than left hanging, wondering…
  3. Make a timeline for yourself and stick to it – This goes along with the tracking tip above; give yourself a concrete timeline to follow so you will stay on-track. Graduating in May/June? Map out your remaining time in classes and figure out which day/week you’d like to have a job confirmed. Write in action steps along the timeline and push yourself to stick with it! If you need extra motivation, get a friend or family member to be in on your timeline and hold you accountable.
  4. Take a day off from the job search – Yes, do this or you’ll go crazy. Just like with a regular job, you also need time away from your job search! Designate a day each week where you won’t do any job search-related tasks. Go out, have fun with your friends, talk a long walk, etc. Just take that time away from your tasks and it’ll refresh your mind.
  5. Don’t give up; stay persistent and hopeful. Keep trying! – I’m going to get all philosophical on you here: nothing great comes from doing nothing. So, keep going at your search! It may seem like a long road ahead (and a lot of unknown territory), but, you can and will land a job soon enough. On average, it took me a few months to finally get an interview and a job out of that interview. At times, I did feel like just giving up….but I feel that’s the moment when you really need to push yourself and go.

Hope this list helps in your job search endeavors!

6 Steps to Making an Impression at Your Next Interview

Better yet...not only greet the staff politely, but give them flowers! Photo 2009.
Better yet…not only greet the staff politely, but give them flowers! Photo 2009.

Perhaps this topic has been beaten to death with the plethora of articles out there about “how to ACE that interview”, etc. But I figured–might as well put a spin on the topic with my own experience.  I’ve been through my share of interviews: some of these I left feeling so clueless. It was hard for me to talk up much experience when I only had experience working at my parents’ restaurant and doing some online forum moderation.

Despite these supposed setbacks from my early 20s, I was able to ace a few interviews just by being myself. And…by doing the following:

  1. Greet the staff politely, with a smile – Common courtesy, folks. Greet the receptionist, the co-worker, whoever you meet first at the office. You just might be working with them in the future, so first impressions are important! Easier said than done, but get past those pre-interview jitters with a smile towards the first staff member you see. Maybe even make small talk with them if they are available to talk. It’ll calm you down.
  2. Wear business clothing (suit if possible, for both men and women) – Of course, this sometimes depends on what kind of job you’re applying for; however, I feel it’s always a safe bet to go overdressed than underdressed. I did this with my interview at English Language Institute: a nice suit jacket and slacks complete with a sleek purse/bag. Yes, I might have been overdressed, but I certainly made an impression (got the job a week later!).
  3. Have a few interview answers ready, tailored to company – Preparation is key! Find a list of interview questions–either online or in book form–and have your answers ready. Make sure to talk about relevant skills to the job and company you’re interviewing for. And then…
  4. Do your research on the company and go prepared with questions – Most, if not all, interviewers enjoy answering questions about Company X. It shows you’ve done your homework! And if you think it’s not important to ask them good, relevant information about the company, you are wrong. DON’T ask the interviewer about how much your job will pay; that just makes you sound greedy. Ask about the history of the company, or about the CEO’s background, etc. SHOW GENUINE INTEREST. This is especially important for small companies!
  5. Take note of the interviewer’s answers; jot them down – This won many points for me when I interviewed with one company; the business owner was impressed that I took the time to write down her answers! This shows that you care about what the interviewer has to say; that you’re detail-oriented; that you’re, well, respectful! I recommend going in with a legal pad or a regular ruled notebook. Don’t go for the notepads or your tablet/smartphone: both look bad in this situation.
  6. Send a thank-you note afterwards – In all my past interviews, I make a point to send a thank-you note via email (considering, in this day and age, quick responses = quick results?!). Just thank your interviewer for their time and what you enjoyed learning about Company X. Send this thank-you note between 12-24 hours after the interview so to keep your name fresh on the interviewer’s mind.

Follow these tips of mine, and you just might land that dream job of yours. Of course, if you want to, consult other interviewing how-to articles for the usual stuff; nothing beats past successes though.

 

 

5 Ways to Masterfully Ruin a Networking Opportunity

I went to a small networking/social event the other night, expecting to catch up with former colleagues and make a few new connections. Little did I know that I’d be appalled by the actions of the people there — which just put a sour taste in my mouth.

See, many people seem to think that “networking” is a dirty word. When it comes to me and networking, I like to take my time and talk with a few people instead of traveling around a room handing out my business cards. I like to connect with people, see what we can possibly do to help one another. Or, at the very least, become colleagues, supportive of each other’s work. Any kind of connection creates value in each other’s lives.

I went to this event with this mindset and set about to execute my strategy. Some of it worked, but a lot of it didn’t….mainly because of the appalling behaviors of the others present at the event.

So, I noticed these five things at the event….and hope that, if you are to attend a social or networking event in the future, you won’t commit these mistakes.

Food at a networking event is awesome, but don't just stand around the food table chatting with your friends all night long.
Food at a networking event is awesome, but don’t just stand around the food table chatting with your friends all night long.

5 Ways to Masterfully Ruin a Networking Opportunity:

  1. Turn your back on someone wanting to speak with you. Smirk over your shoulder & ignore. Yes, this happened, and with a former colleague. Not only is this highly immature & arrogant, it is going to backfire on you one day. You never know who you will be talking to about a new job, new business, etc. Turn your back on me today, and tomorrow I may be filing your taxes for you…or reconsidering that action. As I’ve said before, karma comes around and goes around.
  2. Humble brag about your “awful” time working overseas and being treated like a celebrity there. Nothing turns off a new contact more than someone doing the “humble brag” about their work experience. “Oh, I worked in China for six months, and the whole time there I was treated like a celebrity. It was so uncomfortable. -scoff- I don’t want to live there long-term.” Again, this attitude comes from arrogance, and arrogance won’t get you far in your job search or in this world. Save this story for when you’re actually hired at the company (for a random story around the water cooler) and don’t spout it off to someone you just met.
  3. Hand new colleague a burrito loyalty card instead of a business card, i.e., not having your own business cards handy. I had respect for this person I had met at the event, until I handed this person my card and they in turn handed me their Chipotle card. “Sorry, I don’t usually bring my business cards to events like this.” Bad idea, bad idea. You should ALWAYS bring your business cards to any kind of event you go to, whether it’s an actually business networking event or Happy Hour with some colleagues. You NEVER know who you will meet! I’ve made a point to carry my cards with me everywhere I go and many of my friends do so as well. This same person seemed turned off that I would hand out my card so easily. I didn’t just talk to this person for 5 seconds with my pitch and then throw my card at them; no, I stood there and talked with them for some time, asking about what they did in their company and seeing if our companies could possibly work together. I was handing this person my card for follow-up on if/when they were looking for a new job. Well, guess there won’t be a follow-up with how crass this person became, trying to hand me all sorts of loyalty cards to joke with me.
  4. Argue with new colleague about what school they went to and why. The topic of universities, b-schools, etc. probably shouldn’t come up in a first conversation with a new colleague. Granted, this event I went to involved a lot of b-school students; still, I found the conversation awkward when one person said to the other, “Now WHY would you go to the University of South Carolina for THAT major?” Ok, so belittling someone you just met is going to work you favors? Nope. Again, karma, folks.
  5. Stay close with friends and don’t cast a wide net. This is the most common mistake people make when networking: they stick close with the people they know and don’t even make the effort to meet the other people in the crowd. I admit, I have been guilty of this as well. Still, as the saying goes, you’re not going to meet a new person, a new opportunity, by staying within your comfort zone. At this event, the others just stayed talking with their friends and didn’t bother to perhaps introduce themselves to the other people present. I feel pity for these people, since that means, most likely they don’t like to take risks. Meeting a new person is not risky! Worst case scenario out of a networking event would be you’d never talk to that person again. But at least you tried.

I walked away from this event slightly offended but highly amused. Clearly, these professionals were NOT professionals in networking. I say they’re wasting their time by not practicing their networking skills and treating the event as “Let’s just have fun with our friends”. Instead of attending a social like this and taking advantage of the complimentary appetizers, you could have probably just had your own gathering elsewhere.

My theory is that every moment of life IS a networking opportunity. Sure, you don’t want to go into your pitch with everyone you meet at church or the laundromat; but you just never know if the next person you meet will be the one to find you a job, invest in your company, or just be your new best friend.

Daily Post Day 7: Memorable Job Interviews

Bulletin Boards

During 2007 – 2008, went through a lot of interviews. Many were less-than-stellar (I was fresh out on the job market after all), and some were just plain strange. But, throughout all the interviews, I learned a few things:

– Do your research as thoroughly as possible

– Show enthusiasm!

– If the job doesn’t look like it’ll be fun, be honest (yet polite) about it and bow out gracefully.

I once had a prospective employer ask me point-blank, “Do you really want this job? Do you see yourself working in this little office day-in, day-out? If not, you won’t hurt my feelings.” She probably had interviewed many others before so she was well-seasoned with facial expressions and such. I probably looked scared and not so thrilled about the position.

I had a very short interview once because the computer system was down in the office. However, I was immediately hired; later on my manager told me how I just emanated positivity from just the brief encounter. Good to know.

My most recent interview (in late 2008) that got me my previous job was memorable for the mere fact that my note-taking skills sure got me the job position. The owner of the business was impressed with my attention to their responses and how I came prepared with questions. I remember feeling so nervous about this job though, since I had to go through three different interviews before I finally got the phone call to go in and start working.

Well, we all go through this motions in our lives. I’m glad I got to learn so much from the interviews I have received.