The Four People You Don’t Want in Your Meetings

If we had a nickel for every meeting we’ve sat in that was completely unnecessary, we’d be rolling in dough. Unfortunately, meetings are an unavoidable part of corporate culture, whether you’re at a big or small outfit.  Of course, we’ve all been invited to meetings with 20-plus people, no schedule, goals, or next steps and afterwards lamented the myriad ways in which we could have spent the last two hours more effectively. In fact, a recent survey by recruitment firm Robert Half International showed 28 per cent of meetings were viewed as unnecessary or unproductive and executives felt preparation time, meetings and follow-up represented a significant block of time they could better spend elsewhere.

When done correctly, meetings can be a great place to communicate your ideas and thoughts, brainstorm with others and raise important questions. You have a captive audience, a goal in mind, and a platform that lends itself to discussion. Some people, however, don’t know the right way to participate in meetings and, as a result, can derail the whole process.

Here are the four types of communicators we’ve witnessed in meetings time and time again (and wished we hadn’t):

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Our Fun Fearless Interview

Yesterday, we did an in-studio interview with Cosmo Radio’s “Cocktails with Patrick,” a show that airs on Sirius XM Radio everyday from 3-6 p.m. EST and is hosted by the adorable Patrick Meagher and produced by the lovely Lea Palmieri.  We landed the interview at the suggestion of Cosmopolitan‘s Editor-in-Chief Kate White, the very definition of her magazine’s motto “Fun Fearless Female” — and we had an absolute ball.  Our chat with Patrick lasted 45 minutes and yet it felt like 5.  We’re not sure how Cosmo Radio found him but he’s a real talent with a great sense of humor who can make any guest feel at ease (did we mention that he’s adorable?).

During our interview, we doled out advice that we hope was helpful to the show’s young (mostly female) listeners about do’s and don’ts in the workplace — from what not to post on Facebook and Twitter to tips on how to dress for an interview, from simple e-mail mistakes to avoid to how to set up informational interviews.

We love Cosmo!

We want to thank Kate, Cosmo editor Zoe Ruderman, Lea and Patrick again for making our interview a great experience. We wish every interview about the book could be as easy and fun as this one!  If you don’t already, follow @CosmoRadio, @CockswithP, @CosmoOnline and @KateMWhite on Twitter.  And of course @BestPublicist too for updates on the book, press interviews and speaking engagements.  Thanks!

One-on-One Interview: Dan Schawbel, Personal Branding Guru

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we share tips and advice from friends, colleagues and key experts in PR and beyond. One person who has great wisdom on how to brand yourself is Dan Schawbel, the founder of Millennial Branding, LLC & author of Me 2.0. We caught up with him recently to get his insight about personal branding and leveraging classic PR and marketing techniques to stand out in the workplace.

What skill or technique have you, yourself, used to get ahead or get a job?

The best technique I learned was to gather new skills outside of work that would be relevant to my internal career path. I was stuck in a product marketing role and wanted to be in social media marketing back in late 2007.

By starting a blog, establishing myself on social networks, and then constantly marketing myself every single day, I became a better marketer and more valuable to my company. The result was that I was able to create my own unique role within my company called “social media specialist.” Ever since then, I’ve been following my passion, honing my skills, and have been continuously innovating.
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How to Kick-Start Your Career as the Job Market Rebounds

It was just reported by Crain’s New York Business that, for the first time in 19 months, the jobless rate in New York City has fallen below 9 percent (granted, it was at 8.9% for December 2010 but still…) and the national rate was at 9.4%, the lowest it’s been in many months. While this is still not what we’d like the figure to be and the decrease may be due to some folks coming off unemployment, it also could indicate a slow recovery and a job market that’s opening back up again.

With the new year up and running, it’s vital that the unemployed, underemployed and unhappily employed take stock of where they are and make a plan for their career future. Whether you need a job or are in one but looking to make a move, now is the time to get going. Here are a few ways to kick-start your job search for 2011:

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Thank you.

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” – Oscar Wilde

This is it!  BE YOUR OWN BEST PUBLICIST officially hits shelves today.

It’s an exciting accomplishment for us and one we could not have arrived at without the help of our family, friends, colleagues and contributors.
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On Your Permanent Record: The Importance of Managing Your Digital Legacy

When visiting the pristine Galapagos islands, the guides warn you to “Take nothing (but photos); leave nothing (but footprints).” It’s clear why: Photos will provide the memories; footprints will not make a permanent impact on the precious environment.

However, when it comes to your digital footprint — the impression you make with photos, postings, tweets, sharing, etc.– it is anything but fleeting.

In fact, The New York Times recently wrote about people’s digital after-life — a presence that lasts long after they’ve shuffled off their mortal coil.

Personally, we’ve had Facebook friends who’ve passed only to re-appear periodically on the “Reconnect with” rotation of the site. Often, the person’s Facebook page, Twitter feed or blog become a makeshift digital memorial for mourners to share memories and notes of sympathy for the loss. We’ve also stumbled upon links to wedding websites (replete with images and musings) for someone who, sadly, is no longer with us.

Disconcerting? Maybe, but this seeming life-after-death underscores the importance of how we manage our digital profile in the here and now. Here are some simple rules of thumb to make sure your life and legacy are well represented online:

1. Educate yourself. According to a poll by Mashable, over 45 percent of HR people are now actively reviewing candidates’ social media profiles prior to extending the offer. Having too small of a presence could be as detrimental as being over-exposed. Not all online opportunities are created equally.  Be clear about what you want to accomplish and the people with whom you want to connect to determine the right vehicles for your social media profile.  For example, some professions consider LinkedIn is the site of choice. For others, it may be more effective to be up and running on Twitter.   However, if being online is simply a way to find out what family and friends (or old flames) are up to, Facebook (or its more intimate upstart Path) tend to be the select sites du jour.

2. Edit yourself. Kanye West is a cautionary tale — the good things you say and do can often be obscured by flippant, nonsensical or plain ridiculous comments. Putting it in “real people” terms, think before hitting “post” or “send.” Equate your status to an expensive billboard in Times Square; don’t just throw any old thing up there. And, don’t just shoot out an off-the-cuff missive in the heat of a moment. A seemingly innocuous but snarky comment about your breakfast, work or a friend could have long-term effects on your career, relationships or reputation.

3. Check yourself. Whether you’re writing an email or an important document, we encourage people to employ the “second set of eyes” rule. By asking someone else to review a written missive for tone or typos, you can save yourself hours of stress or embarrassment. Or, if you don’t have an eagle-eye editor at your disposal, try hitting the pause button before sending. Draft the note or document and put it aside for a few hours — even a day. When you come back, read it out loud to ensure that it a) reads well and b) that your intention/tone comes across appropriately. If it does, it probably means that what you’re putting out into the digital realm is something that you’ll be okay representing you, even after you’re gone.

4. Protect yourself. While the trend towards collaboration and crowd-sourcing is commonplace, it is also important to make sure your ideas and information are protected. How do you know what’s already out there?  Run a search on yourself and keep alerts for when your name and likeness come up.  Moving forward, monitor your security settings on a regular basis, encrypt information that is particularly sensitive and be judicious about sharing highly detailed personal information (especially via location-based sites such as FourSquare, Yelp and Gowalla) online.

What do you want your digital legacy to be?  Share it with us here, on Facebook or on Twitter (@BestPublicist).

Media Training: Taking Our Own Advice

Over the course of our careers, we’ve both spent endless hours in media and messaging training sessions with our clients, where either we alone–or, more often, with a professional media trainer–put these folks through the paces before they were to appear on television. We worked on key messages, body language, posture, wardrobe, verbal and physical tics (i.e. ums, uhs and frequent repetition of a word or phrase like “absolutely,” “exactly,” or “I think”) and, most importantly, how to take control of an interview.

Sometimes, we witnessed the transformation of a raw natural talent into a superstar. Other times, we came to the conclusion that no amount of training would ever make a person into a TV personality. But regardless, we never realized how truly difficult it is to prep for a television appearance until we went through media training ourselves in preparation for the release of our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist.

We dedicate an entire chapter to using tips and tricks from the best media trainers, TV producers and on-air talent in the industry to help anyone prepare for a job interview, presentation or speaking engagement, so we knew it would be a good idea to be the trainees for once instead of the trainers.

As a result, we have a newfound respect for the people we’ve sat in those sessions with because the truth is: it’s hard work to come across as comfortable, confident and knowledgeable when there’s a video camera in your face. Here are some lessons we learned about how to knock a TV interview out of the ballpark:

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How Not to Burn Your Bridges in the Workplace

We once had a boss who, when an employee quit, was known to respond by saying, “I didn’t like you anyway” or by kicking the person out of the office. When it came time for us to turn in our resignation, we were petrified. So we made a case for why it would be better in the long run for us to get experience elsewhere so perhaps we could come back to the company in the future and be an even better asset. Guess what–it worked–and we’re still in touch with our former employer years later.

There are, of course, circumstances in which maintaining a friendly relationship with a former boss or employee is challenging (e.g. when a staffer stole business from the company; when a boss fired you without cause; when someone was verbally abusive or backstabbing when you worked together or was unethical in the workplace). However, in most cases, you can–and should–try to stay on good terms whether you’re the one leaving or being left. Why? Because it’s a small world and you never know when professional paths will cross again.  [Read more…]

Top Five Workplace Lessons Learned from 2010’s News and Newsmakers

With 2010 now receding into the rearview mirror, we can look back on the various triumphs and tribulations of the past 365 days. From pop culture to politics to personalities, there’s lots to learn from last year’s news and newsmakers, including: [Read more…]

Four Career Resolutions You Can Stick To

We all do it — make resolutions at the outset of a brand new year that often fall by the wayside before the end of January (why do you think the New Year is a peak time for gym membership sales but 60% of them go unused?). So how do you strike a balance between setting reachable and unrealistic goals for yourself? How can you approach the “New Year, New You” mentality for your career and actually stick to your plan?  Here are four ideas:

1. Think about what you’ve learned. At the beginning of every year, we each gather our teams together for a “What I’ve Learned” meeting, where everyone shares their top lessons from the past year. This is a great exercise for anyone to do because it enables you to step back and review how the last 12 months went at work and what enlightened you along the way. By discussing it in a group, you also get the added benefit of other people’s lessons. These key learnings — drawn both from mistakes you made and things you did well — will help you plan ahead for the coming year, avoid making the same mistakes again and find ways to put your helpful knowledge to use.

2. Give yourself a few attainable goals and one stretch goal. Even better than creating a laundry list of big goals (e.g. lose 50 lbs., start the next Facebook), many of which you may not reach, break them down into bite-size lists of two or three realistic goals per quarter (i.e. work out 2x/week and cut 100 calories a day, organize your office, spend an hour a day on strategy). Then, just to push yourself, add one that’s a bit harder to reach, what we like to call a “stretch” goal. It should be something that you strive to accomplish but will challenge you and get you outside your comfort zone. For example, maybe there’s an industry award that you’d like to win for your work that’s tough to get. How can you go about getting nominated or creating something good enough to be recognized in 2011?

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