As a professional woman, do you find yourself taking remarks by co-workers or clients too personally? Overwhelmed by work load? Doubting your abilities to be successful in a new project or position?
If so, you’re far from alone. Difficult work relationships, too much to do, and lack of confidence can drag down every professional woman at some point in her career.
Get some practical inspiration from the most irritating behaviors exhibited by men in your work life. Seriously.
There’s a trend happening with many of my mentoring clients that goes something like this:
“I’m soooo dissatisfied with my current career! I desperately want to make a change but I feel overwhelmed, scared and unsure how to start! Ugh.”
Ever thought that way about your career? Feeling that way now? It’s not a fun place to be.
You no longer enjoy what you do every day. In fact, you dread it. Your schedule is packed with activities that drain you. You feel scattered and pulled in multiple directions.
You feel stuck in a rut and you beat yourself up for not doing more about it.
Stop, just stop! Do this right now instead: scream, exhale and smile your way to a more satisfying career. Perhaps not the advice you expected, but it works.
So many people hate networking. Hate it! Because they don’t want to feel awkward, stupid, or speechless. But, they do it anyway and they try, they really try. Still, they stumble all over themselves and can’t wait for it to be over.
Is that you? It was me once. Today, people have a very hard time believing I was very shy as a little girl. In fact, as a first grader, my mouth was shut for so long, my lips dried together!
How did I overcome my awkwardness? What did I learn along the way about how the easiest way to start a conversation whether you’re shy or shameless?
Take a quick look and find out. Be prepared to be surprised – and relieved.
Recently in a conversation with Grace, an event planner about an association’s annual conference, she told me “We need to do a better job with networking. That’s what people said they want more of and I’m not sure how.”
It’s a frustration I hear again and again from meeting planners. You include build networking time and opportunities into your agenda, but somehow it’s still not enough. Structured networking to the rescue, literally. Here’s why and how.
Put yourself in the participant’s shoes. As a smart working man or woman, one of the top reasons you spend time and money attending live professional events is to meet new people. By meeting new people you might learn about a new project, discover a new career opportunity, or find a new client.
But more often than not, your rational brain is not in charge when it comes to networking. Instead your reptilian brain kicks in more times than you want to admit and you hardly meet anyone because the whole process feels awkward, stupid or speechless.
A structured experience instantly increases an event’s value by taking the work out of networking and making it easy, comfortable, and fun!
Here’s how to add a structure networking experience to your event:
- Determine where a structured networking session best fits into the flow of your event
You can hold a structured networking session near the beginning, part way through, or at the end of your event.
A networking session near the beginning taps into people’s curiosity to discover who is in the room and can set the stage to keep meeting new people throughout the event. A networking session part way though the event is a great strategy when you need a group energy boost, such as shortly after a meal or mid-afternoon slump. A structured networking session at the end can be a fun way to wrap things up.
- Decide how much time you want to allot
Meeting just one new person doesn’t cut it. In my experience, participants need to have a 5-7 minute conversation with at least 3 new people for networking to be valuable.
That’s why you need at least 30 minutes for a structured networking experience. Forty-five to sixty minutes is even better. With additional time you can add a short networking how-to, additional conversation rounds, and a group debrief of what happened.
- Identify a facilitator and a process
The magic of structured networking is that people are led by facilitator, who gives them the path and the permission to meet one another, which immediately reduces the air in the awkward balloon.
The most effective facilitators set a positive tone by reminding people of the importance and power of meeting new people, provide how-to network tips they can immediately use, create an process to interact for at least 3 conversation rounds, and offer an opportunity for individuals to publicly share something interesting or unique about a person they met and/or what the networking experience felt like.
To identify the right person to conduct a success structured networking session, consider a professional facilitator, event speaker or seasoned trainer. Be cautious asking someone who is not completely comfortable or familiar with facilitating as this may have led to less than desirable results for everyone.
By asking Grace specific questions about her event and participants, I was able to design a structured networking session that fit her needs and she was excited to share with the association. She commented, “This is the perfect complement to our unstructured networking time!”
Everything seems to be changing – fast: the economy, businesses, communities, and more. It’s enough to rock anyone’s confidence.
That’s why our definition of confidence needs to change, too.
“If you create interaction, they will come” is a mantra you want to adapt when planning a professional women’s event. After nearly two dozen interviews with event and meeting planners, it was clear that creative ways to design fun, inspiring, informative interaction was critical.
Jeanne Elipani is the meeting planner for the world’s largest conference and career fair for women in technology, the WE15 by the Society of Women Engineers, which attracts over 9,000 attendees. When asked what are the biggest factors to their event’s success, Jeanne’s first response was “using an interactive formula.”
Anything shifting in your career, your business or your life? Any new change you have initiated or are adjusting to right now? Right, got a pulse?!
As the world turns faster and faster, as events come at us like a bad movie marathon, and as we start down new paths in our lives, the ability to stay sane amidst the swirl isn’t just nice, it’s a critical, strategic skill.
Here are 10 tips to thrive on change that are practical, productive and fun!
Speakers: The good ones you love, the not so good ones drive you crazy!
All you are trying to do is get speakers for your event who will present on topics that attract, share useful content, are energetic and motivating, and appeal to your audience demographic.
Sounds more than reasonable. The problem is that even a speaker who looks good online or on paper might end up being boring, present on a different topic than agreed, or be a prima donna! Ugh.
As someone who has been on both sides of the speaker equation, I know what you’re up against.
As a manager, co-worker, entrepreneur or parent, how much of your day is spent getting someone to say “Yes!” to your idea, to agree to funding, to buy your product or service, or to clean up their room?
Daniel Pink, author of To Sell is Human, determined from his research that on average we spend 40% or more of our time doing just that. In short, we’re all in sales. We’re all in the influence business – attempting to move people from where they are to where we want them to be.