Networking: How to stop dreading it, and start enjoying it (really!) – Part One

When it comes to NETWORKING there are many, many tips and tricks. However, if you don’t start with this ONE, then none of the rest will make a difference.

I know you dread networking. You only do it when you have to and even then, you do it grudgingly.

I know that, for you, networking is just a long four-letter word.

I know this for two reasons.  First, I don’t know many people who actually enjoy networking. Second, until I realized my mistake, this is exactly how I felt too. I viewed networking as a necessary evil – I would show up but not really participate.

So, what was my mistake? I had been seeing networking as a chore, rather than treating it as an opportunity.

There are endless articles and cheat sheets that cover networking, but where most of them fail is that they rarely cover the main problem most of us have with networking, and that is our attitude toward it.

Attitude is everything and the simple act of turning a negative into a positive is hugely powerful. Not only will you stop dreading networking, you might even start to enjoy it (really!). Why? Because, viewed in the right light networking is an incredibly useful tool.  Done well, it can be used for a variety of reasons: to learn about new trends in your area, to research new avenues, to test out a new idea or thought, and, yes, to expand your network.

Easy for me to say, right? ‘But’, I hear you say, ‘how exactly do I do that?’

Read moreNetworking: How to stop dreading it, and start enjoying it (really!) – Part One

Remembering Names: THREE Quick Tips to Remembering (and ONE, in case you forget)

If you’re like me, then remembering names can be a struggle. These tips will help you remember, or stop you from being embarrassed if you forget (because no one is perfect but the trick to being a Polished Professional is recovering gracefully).

I made this quick video as we were heading into holiday party season but the tips are useful no matter what season it is!

If you have any tips on how you remember names then I would LOVE to hear them…pop them in the comments below.

The Spirit of the Season

Holiday Greetings from Polished Professionals

 

December is almost here and our thoughts are turning to our various holidays, and these days that gives way to the inevitable discussion about ‘holiday’ greetings.

Over the past number of years I’ve seen an increase in the number of “It’s not Happy Holidays, it’s MERRY CHRISTMAS” posts, and I find these unfortunate.  The frustration that leaps from these posts is palpable, but I’m not entirely sure where it comes from – when any greeting is given in warmth and friendship we ought to receive it the same way.

Whether your faith or belief system is based in deep religious roots, or a certainty that Santa does live at the North Pole, it should not be so easily shaken that you rail against a ‘happy’ greeting.  Instead of worrying which greeting is used, we ought to recognize that the words (no matter which ones they are) come from a place of affection and warmth.

I think that we are immensely fortunate living where we do, and when we do: our melting-pot-cities and societies are made up of many traditions and holidays, and this is what gives our lives richness and depth. Let’s embrace it, not fight it.

Read moreThe Spirit of the Season

Putting Presence in your Presents

Delivering PresentsThis time of year – a time of peace and goodwill – can be one of the most stressful for us, particularly when it comes to buying presents. We often feel an enormous amount of pressure to get it all ‘right’.  To help ease some of the strain, I’ve come up with a few suggestions.

How do I decide?
Generally we give presents because it feels nice to make others happy, right? Therefore the key thing is to give our purchases some thought. Even a little goes a long way.

“Sure”, I hear you say, “but where do I start?”

Start by making a short list of some of the things you know about the recipient – even as few as five things will give you ideas (and if you don’t know five things about them, do you really need to give them a present?). For instance, a list about me would look like this:

  • Wears jewellery
  • Reads biographies
  • Likes a nice G&T
  • Loves tea
  • Hates being cold

Now you have at least five ideas of presents that would be very well received.

Read morePutting Presence in your Presents

The Eleventh Hour

Remembrance DayFor me, the phrase ‘the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month’ has always held great power and significance. It represents not only history – the end of the Great War, the First World War, the ‘war to end all wars’ – but also the moment in modern life when we are meant to stop, reflect and remember.

However, I have noticed that in my lifetime (and I’m not that old) many people have ‘stopped stopping’ for those two minutes, that they don’t always take the time for this small observance; instead they plough through, ignoring it or simply forgetting to pause.  Not only are they themselves missing an opportunity to stop and reflect, but they are often actively intruding on those who do want to mark that time with silence.

In our constant modern rush we very rarely stop, let alone in silence and stillness. I truly believe that we owe it not only to history but to the future, to pause and reflect for those two minutes – perhaps more now than ever.

The power of the two-minute silence is that it is based in humanity. It is time to reflect on what we owe all the men and women, past and present, who have helped shape our country both in times of war and times of peace.  They lived through experiences we can never imagine; recognizing this and showing our gratitude is the least we can do.

Here are a few things that you can do, not only to help you stop for those few minutes but also encourage others to do the same.

Read moreThe Eleventh Hour

How to ask for a favour

Need to ask someone to do something they don’t necessarily want to do? Try this simple change of language and see what happens.

 

Your Stories
We love hearing from you! If you have a tip, trick or story you’d like to share we would love to hear it.  Send us a note and we’ll include it here.

Symbols & Remembrance: Wearing your Poppy

Today marks the day that our poppies go on sale and I’m a firm believer in both buying and wearing a poppy. The sale of poppies not only supports the vital work of the Royal Canadian Legion but also serves as an Royal Canadian Legion Volunteersimportant physical reminder of past wars and conflicts. Remembering and marking (not celebrating) these events is as important now as it was when they first came into being in 1921.

I try to buy my poppy from the Legion volunteers who set up their tables in and around the town because I enjoy chatting with them and showing my support. Today I had the enormous pleasure of meeting these two lovely volunteers, Marleine Levin and her mum, Eva Kay.  I was doubly-pleased to discover that they are two strong Scots women originally from Glasgow (my Nanny’s birthplace). Marleine kindly offered to pin my poppy on so that it would be secure.

Wondering how to wear your poppy?

In late October and early November the inevitable questions arise: when and how to wear your poppy?

When should I wear my poppy?

The practical answer about ‘when’ is that, in Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion poppies officially go on sale on the last Friday of October (today), so that generally dictates timing, unless you have one leftover from previous years. No matter when you start wearing your poppy, it should be worn through November 11th then tucked away for next year.

I’ve been asked whether it’s acceptable to wear a poppy year-round.  While it’s a nice thought to show support throughout the year, the impact of the symbol starts to wane over time, so it’s best to restrict it to a few weeks a year.

Where do I wear my poppy?

There are many people who feel strongly about this. Left side, right side? On a cap or hat, or not?

Read moreSymbols & Remembrance: Wearing your Poppy

Job Well Done

When someone does a good job, tell them. Please Ring For Serivce

Then, tell their manager.

Not only does it give you a good feeling, but reinforcing good customer service becomes a virtuous circle.

I particularly like doing this when I talk to anyone in a call centre who does a good job. Let’s face it, if you work in a call centre chances are you work long hours and deal with many annoyed, frustrated or downright angry customers. So when I speak to someone who is friendly, professional and helpful I want to make sure they know that I appreciate it.

This week I had to ring a call centre because I wanted to cancel my membership in a car sharing service. The service itself is fine but I never use it and wanted to stop paying the monthly fee. I was hoping to be able to do this online, to avoid the inevitable sales pitch but, of course, they want you to go through the sales team. In any case, I called and spoke to Lloyd, who couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful, in spite of the fact that I was calling to cancel.

At the end of the call Lloyd asked the final ‘is there anything else I can do for you today?’ question, to which I replied ‘yes, I’d like to speak to your supervisor or manager to tell them how helpful you’ve been’. I love doing this. Not only does it reinforce good customer service but it also comes as a pleasant surprise to both the sales person and their manager. In addition, many call centres have points systems, so when you do take the time to provide positive feedback, the sales rep gets a ‘gold star’ and is often rewarded.

Is there a downside to doing this? Yes, sometimes you have to wait on hold for a bit to get the manager on the line, but that time is well spent because not only will you make their day, it will leave you feeling pretty good as well.

I highly recommend you try this the next time you get a nice person on the telephone.

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