Danielle Dory

Posts Tagged ‘networking’

“I’m Sorry What Was Your Name?” : Simple guidelines if you’re feeling like the outcast in meetings

In Blog, Business on June 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

It’s always strange being the new kid on the block- or the only kid for that matter.  I’m not referring back to shyness problems. I’m talking about walking into a project meeting weeks, months or years after its start, and not knowing what anyone is talking about.  Or that dazed and confused feeling when people throw around so many acronyms, terms and software names that you can’t even tell the difference between the three.  The temptation to lose yourself in daydreams about anywhere else might be overwhelming but…DON’T TO THAT. Do this…

Here are some quick tips that I’ve learned from my experience…

  1. Sign Out and Plug In
    1. Sign out of email, Facebook and Twitter.  Plug into the conversation around you.
  2. Take notes
    1. Write down everything especially things that don’t make sense to you.  For the first meeting, that will probably be everything.
  3.  Be a Jigsaw Master
    1. Try to put all the pieces together.  Start trying to understand the process and the history of the project.  Write down how you think things might work.  You’ll need this for # 5.
  4. Make a Buddy
    1. Establishing a rapport with everyone in the room on the first day might be tricky, picking one person is a piece of cake.  Use the personal conversation initiative approach or find someone who seemed sympathetic to your newbie status,  Make them your friend.  If that person doesn’t warm up to you, find someone else!
  5. Buddy Meeting
    1. Ask your new buddy if they have time to run over some questions you had about the project.  When you meet, or have a phone conversation, with your buddy have your notes handy.  Showing that you attempted to contextualize all the new information being thrown at you well help narrow down information gaps, show your attentiveness, and display that you’re eager to get caught up.
  6. Try Not Being Too Self-Conscious
    1. You might be afraid that people are looking at you- sizing you up if you will.  They are.  Sit up straight, smile and tune into the conversation.  People will get used to your presence.  They’re just a bit curious.
  7. Shhhh
    1. Have you ever heard the difference between a wise (wo)man and a fool?  Speaking just to get your voice heard and yourself noticed is going to do a lot more harm than help.  Hold your tongue until you understand the situation more.
  8. Speak up
    1. I am fully aware that 7 & 8 are contradictions- they’re not.  Once you have embedded yourself in the context of the project, speak up if you have a question or comment.  My first manager gave me really great advice for feeling self-conscious, preface it.  Say, “I know I’m new to this but I was wondering, have we tried this approach?…”  Starting your comment with something like that will add to your contextual knowledge and let people know that you’re thinking critically and are ready to become a player in discussions.

Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll be part of the club in no time!


“Get Your Free Knowledge!”

In Blog, Public Speaking on June 22, 2012 at 10:06 am

The nerd/lifetime student in me is pretty excited today!  The VP of the Higher Education Division is giving a lecture on the future of higher education soon, and today a pioneer in Early Education is coming to share her teacher competency testing model!  I won’t lie to you, I miss college.  I miss my friends. I miss the conversations.  I miss most of my professors.  I even miss the communal feeling I get when I look down from the top floor of the student union at 4am to see that 5 other people are still typing away perfecting papers.  Still, what I miss the most about college are the open lectures.  Award winning and small time artist come from all over the world.  CEOs, economists, doctors, homeless people of Charlotte, and they all come partake in intellectual and cultural exchange.   So it should come to you as no surprise that when my job is offering lectures and seminars, I almost always sign up.  This leads me to my next tip and trick…

Keep an eye out for free lectures!  My grandfather always told me, “No matter how much education you have, you’re not the smartest person in the room.”  Basically, no matter where you are you can always learn something from the person sitting next to you, on the other side of the room, or besides you in the elevator.  So if someone is offering a lecture on something that remotely interests you, go ahead and sign up for it!  Don’t throw away the chance for some free education!

It’s also not a bad place to work on your personal conversation initiative or to keep yourself busy!


In Blog, Public Speaking on June 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Now you can FOLLOW ME on TWITTER!

Of course the day that I decided to connect my blog with twitter was also the day twitter kept on shutting down, but my twitter page is now done!

Coming Short of Your Personal Goals? Bolster Your Performance & Create a GAP Model

In Blog, Business on June 20, 2012 at 11:56 am

This is it. After emailing your cover letter to your career counselor, parents, grandparents, and favorite high school teacher for review, you’ve landed yourself an interview.  After breaking the bank to find the perfect professional outfit from a store you only know about because your parents shop there, and getting fashion advice from the nice sales rep behind the counter, you have found the perfect high cut and calves length business dress (or if you’re a guy the perfect suit).   After staring into the mirror rehearsing possible responses to questions like, Why are you a fit for insert name/company? or, What can we as a company gain by hiring you?, you waited around for a few days, and finally landed the job/internship.  The papers are signed.  Direct deposit statements are set.  Orientation was a breeze, and you are finally sitting at your cubical with only a pop-up wall separating you from a floor of others who, at some point, went through the same process.  Finally, the initiation is over. Right? Wrong.  Your work is just starting.

Not the work that your direct supervisor is going to be handing you, or the meetings, or the piles of notes that you’ll take after every conversation so that you know how exactly the company functions.  I’m talking about your personal work.  It’s on and off the clock and it’s never ending. That work is called gap analysis and after you learn it you will be using it for the rest of your life.  Gap analysis is a tool with a lot of factors and many different models, but it boils down to looking at the space in between where you are now and where you want to be (Is the picture making since now?).   Now, that’s a pretty general definition, and when working with most things general, the solution has to be broken into multiple parts. The company I intern with had a seminar led by the VP of Strategic Workforce Solutions, where he introduced ways in which gap analysis can be used to bolster business performance using Dana and James Robinson’s model.  We are using it to bolster personal performance.

Let’s Run Through It:

Going for the Should

Analyze what Is

Pin down reasons for gap.

I will use a simplified fictional case study to first identify the:

Situation: I am a new intern/employee.

Purpose: Promotion.  I am here to promote myself through newly acquired knowledge, hard work and networks.  I am also here to gain a promotion in my career whether it is with the same company or other potential employers.

                GAP Analysis

                                Going for the Should:

By the end of this internship I should have propelled my growth in new computer software, made an impact in the company through projects/relationships/cross-generational learning.  Gain mentors and new friends.

                                Analyze the Is:

It is my first week working with the company.  I have yet to meet my division’s director.  I know how to use the basic computer programs, but there is a new program that is foreign to me.  I only know the person next to me.

                                Pin point the Causes:

External Factors (out of your control):  Newness, Difference in work experience…

Internal Factors:

Attitude- Smile and walk with your head up. Address people by their names when saying Hello.  It shows that you were paying attention when they said their name, and makes the casual Hello a lot more personal.

Training- See if the company offers program training or work seminars, or make friends with your peers- usually people are more than willing to help you out. Foundation of Knowledge- A successful project takes a lot of work. Start asking questions and start taking notes.  This will demonstrate a genuine interest in your work and for the project to succeed.

Shyness- Seek people out using a personal conversation initiative….

I’m sure you’re getting the point, now get to work!

Got a Shyness “Problem”?

In Blog on June 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I’m incredibly shy. Now, usually when I say this to anyone who has known me over hm… 30 minutes all I get is an eye roll.  I project well, I carry myself well and I’m pretty good at carrying a conversation.  Still, if you throw me in a room filled with people I hardly know, it takes me awhile to warm up to people and feel comfortable.  I think that for most of us that’s pretty normal.  However I’ve learned that in the workplace this type of timid behavior will rarely get you noticed.  Yes, it is true that hard work and diligence goes a long way, but so do smiles, hellos and relationships. 

For a young (or old)  intern, or someone new to a company taking the first step towards getting to know that person around the corner, or even your boss’ boss’ boss can seem a bit intimidating.  Even waving can be tricky (in cases of unreciprocated waves, I’ve always pulled the ol’ cramp in the wrist routine simply pretend like you’re cracking your wrist until your hand is back at your side).   Although typically approaching people after you’ve already met them may not be a problem, meeting people in a new place (or just in general) can be especially tough.

THIS BBC ARTICLE written by tech reporter David Lee discusses how companies are just as concerned as we are about not building relationships in the office place.  Lee mentions that companies spend millions of dollars on creating a familial workplace.  Yet, really feeling comfortable in the workplace is up to you.  Yes, ice breakers at office parties can start dialouges, but creating a personal conversation initiative goes even farther. 

For me, the best place to spark new dialogue has been in the floor’s kitchen.  What better way to kill 1 minute and 45 seconds as your Lean Mean Cuisine warms up? Turns out Georg Ell (manager of Yammer– a social network vehicle dedicated to building relationships in the workplace) and I are on the same page.  We both suggest opening dialogue with “What are you working on?” Not only does this start a dialogue, but it helps you to learn more about the company while establishing a stepping stone towards building a network.  Follow up with, “I work in insert department how do our departments interact?” or more questions about their position/department.  Later the conversation will become more organic.  After that? It’s all up to you.

Tip: If your memory is as bad as mine, keeping a Word document of people that you meet and looking names and faces up in the work directory will help you remember names and faces.  It’s also not a bad way to kill time.