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The Art of Networking and Communication

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Networking isn’t solely just for “businessmen and businesswomen” anymore – it’s for everyone. Take networking out of the business context and it is simply known as communicating or communication. People communicate every day, verbally and non-verbally. The importance of communication has been undermined by the increase in mobile penetration – more communication takes place via text apps such as WhatsApp, Viber and telegram, as compared to face-to-face.

The art of networking and communication in business context is often deemed as “giving to get” and it involves 6 components:

  1. Sharing your knowledge and influence to help others

Like the mandarin saying goes,

活到老,学到老
huó dào lǎo, xué dào lǎo
Live till you’re old, learn till you’re old

In other words, it’s never too late to learn. Often the most common and basic practice is sharing existing knowledge with others. Knowledge is power and what better way to share knowledge than through networking? Previous and/or current job experiences can contribute to the sharing sessions. More experienced people with bountiful job experiences use can influence positively and spur you on to do greater things. If you have sizeable experience, do not overpower – listen out, help out and you may just discover/learn something new.

2. Uncovering unadvertised job opportunities

Networking skills are essential to every balanced job search. These days, hiring managers and decision makers are more likely to talk to candidates who have been recommended by someone they know and trust. In some cases, they might also be looking to hire individuals under the radar without having to make big announcements as competitors might suspect change. Networking relies heavily on personal value and interactions to make a lasting impression so that whenever an opportunity presents itself, top-of-mind individuals come out tops.

3. Making new contacts

Networking events are great because you get out of your usual social and business circles and get introduced to different individuals who interact in different circles. It’s a good place to meet new people and learn more about the industry that they’re in, and their specific expertise. Making new contacts is always beneficial because you broaden your pool of individuals, who bring along a specific set of expertise and experience. With a broader network, comes more opportunities for business and learning. Again, it is important to know how to carry yourself professionally and project a character that is approachable and competent at the same time.

4. Obtaining referrals

Everyone that we interact, will probably go on to interact with hundreds, even thousands more. Networking relies on leveraging on the external networks of other people, to help push you through the door to become a player in the specific network. Social skills and etiquette come into play here as we should make a good impression by having a warm, friendly and genuine personality. We also must appear knowledgeable and competent in our respective fields and expertise. Lastly, we also must constantly react to different individuals that we encounter, and tone down or up our personality accordingly. It’s impossible to know everyone that there is to know in an industry, so the quickest way to get your name out there is to have people talk about and remember you.

5. Gaining interview practice

Networking events and opportunities are good areas to practice speaking and interpersonal skills. We must be able to build rapport with individuals that we have not interacted with before, and we have to start conversations that do not come across as disingenuous. It is very common for people to stay away from networking events, as they are often unable to navigate the social dynamics of such an event. However, getting comfortable with speaking to people is a skill that comes along with practice and time.

6. Learning more about a position, organization and industry

With every new individual that we meet, they each have different experience in various positions and industries. Networking is a good way to learn more insight into a particular industry or company from an individual who has actually ‘been there, done that’! Due to the separation of social or even lifestyle circles, there are a plethora of people that we will never be able to meet, and networking events serve as a good platform to start at, to get to know more people. The art of communication can never be more important here, as we must treat individuals with respect and care and not merely treat them as a means to an end.

shireenashroffThe Art of Networking and Communication
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Business Etiquette – What You Must Know

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Good business etiquette – even though often thought of as a thing of common sense, often are violated unconsciously/subconsciously. Here are some of the etiquette you should know and should be adhering to.

In Meetings

Turn off your gadgets in meetings – Having the discipline to step away from mobile distractions and focus only on the meeting. Of course, this really only works if everyone adheres to it. It’s difficult to make that happen, but when everyone is unplugged and focused, meetings are much more productive.

Arrive on time for meetings – face to face or virtual. If you’re the meeting host, on time means at least five minutes early. If you’re the guest, on time means on time. It’s crazy how often people on both sides of the invitation are late and say nothing about it. If you get held up and know you’re going to be delayed, a quick email/text can keep the person on the other end from feeling stood up.

At Business Meals

When it comes to business meals, bring your manners. If you’re the only one invited, don’t jump the gun to invite a colleague and think it’s okay to do that – most often it is not. When you’re ordering your food, always suggest that the other party places their order first, if you are the host, order last.

When the food comes, no matter how hungry you may be, always wait for everyone to get their plates before eating. Try not to have your mouth packed with food, take smaller bites – this way, if someone asks you a question suddenly or you feel the need to chip in a conversation, you would be able to.

Last but not least, always offer to go dutch (pay individually). If someone insists on pay for the meal, always thank them and offer the next meal to be on you – it’s only polite to do so whether or not there is a next meal.

In the Office

Don’t say anything in email or instant messaging that you don’t mind being broadcast to your entire organization. Once, somebody we know sent a gossipy email intended for a coworker directly to the person she was gossiping about. Watch what you’re saying on instant messaging systems, too. Likely, there are chat logs of what you’re chatting about that are archived somewhere, somebody in the IT department is probably reading it.

Dressing unprofessionally. It’s a fact that people judge you based on what they see. Walking into a board meeting or office wearing a skirt that is uncomfortably short or a blouse that’s extremely low, having the ends of your shirt coming out of your pants is not sending a good message about yourself. Dress-down Fridays may be practiced in some companies but not every company has the practice. Check your corporate guidelines to make sure your business attire is appropriate.

Take personal calls in a private place. Hearing someone talk loudly on a cell phone, especially about personal business is distracting and discourteous to coworkers trying to do their jobs. It’s best to go to an empty conference room or other private location to make a personal call. And do keep personal calls to a minimum so that you don’t appear unfocused to your team or your boss.

shireenashroffBusiness Etiquette – What You Must Know
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How To Create A Rockin’ Resume

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Have you seen the amazing one-page resume of Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer? Are you inspired and would like to create one as good? Here are 5 tips that will get you started!

  1. Never do a “one-size-fits-all” resume

 

Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization.

  • Don’t list everything on the resume

Your resume should not have every work experience you’ve ever had listed on it. Think of your resume not as a comprehensive list of your career history, but as a marketing document selling you as the perfect person for the job. For each resume you send out, you’ll want to highlight only the accomplishments and skills that are most relevant to the job at hand (even if that means you don’t include all of your experience).

  • Keep a master list of all jobs/education

Since you’ll want to be swapping different information in and out depending on the job you’re applying to, keep a resume master list on your computer where you keep any information you’ve ever included on a resume: old positions, bullet points tailored for different applications, special projects that only sometimes make sense to include. Then, when you’re crafting each resume, it’s just a matter of cutting and pasting relevant information together.

  1. An appealing career objective/self-summary

Hiring managers are pretty busy people – they have look at countless of resumes and job applications day in day out, if your resume doesn’t impress them from the get-go, there’s a high chance it’ll end up in “Rejected” or “Trash”. Having a small summary or career objective right at the top to talk about who you are and why you’re the one they’ve been looking for. Career objectives usually work only if you’re applying for a job out of the industry you were previously in. Any other job applications, an engaging self-summary would work perfectly (of course being tweaked to cater to each company you’re applying for).

  1. Highlight accomplishments, not so much on duties.

Hiring managers do not want to know your job duties day in and out. Eg: Compiling spreadsheets and analyzing reports. They want to know what’ve you accomplished through these duties. Write the impact or the result of those actions. For example: “Increased office efficiency by providing accurate and timely file management.” or “Enabled upper level to make strategic decisions by providing accurate weekly status reports.”

  1. Errors – grammatical, typo, generic

Your resume needs to be grammatically perfect. If it isn’t, employers will read between the lines and draw not-so-flattering conclusions about you, like: “This person can’t write,” or “This person obviously doesn’t care.” Double-check even the most minute, taken-for-granted details(such as address and contact information — sooner rather than later.

  1. Wonders of a cover letter

Some hiring managers care if you have one, some don’t. Some hiring managers won’t bother looking at your resume at all if they don’t like your cover letter. So to play it safe, write a cover letter every time – unless the job description specifies not to include one. Now the next question you would ask is “How do I write a cover letter?” Simply put, you’ll need to include four paragraphs: introduction, conclusion, and two middle paragraphs.The first middle paragraph should answer: Why you? Why are you right for this job? The second middle paragraph should answer: Why them? Why do you want to work for that company specifically?.

shireenashroffHow To Create A Rockin’ Resume
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