|I volunteer at this incredible organization in Orange County called WHW (www.whw.org). Their mission is to help empower employment success by teaching people the variety of mindsets and skills necessary to get and keep an amazing job. I see people walk in their doors confused, disheartened, and scared – and walk out of their doors inspired, empowered, and educated. All for free. It’s amazing. |
Anyway – I digress. One of the classes I teach is around crafting an elevator pitch. This damn elevator pitch causes so much unnecessary anxiety. And, of course, the elephant in the room is needing to actually use the elevator pitch while networking. Their faces go from bad to worse. Gasp. Sigh. Yuck.
I have seen people shift from fear to freedom in their job search process with a subtle reframing of how to “show up” to the game of networking. While this is a topic of many books and resources and not one I claim to be an expert in, I feel compelled to share my best tips. None of us should be nervous or anxious or avoidant when networking because that defeats the whole purpose of showing up fully ourselves!
So – here you go… get your mindset recalibrated and get out in the world proclaiming who you are!
Stop thinking of networking as selling yourself. If you’re not a self-proclaimed
Speaking of which way you’re heading – one of the best ways I’ve heard authentic networking described is asking for directions. You are on a journey from here to there and stop along the way to check-in with others on the path, pick up some clues, and course-correct
After you get more comfortable asking for directions, stop categorizing yourself as your job. This is counter-intuitive to every course taught on elevator pitches but I promise it works. By saying “I’m a lawyer”, “I’m a VP of Sales at Amazon”, “I run a digital agency” – you give all your power away in the first 5 seconds. Why? Because the person receiving the information is
|“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”–Keith Ferrazzi|
|From Theory to Action|
Whether you are in a job that you hope lasts a lifetime or are itching to figure out what’s next, networking is the oxygen of professional progress. Stop stressing about it and overthinking it. Instead, try sharing, asking for directions, and compelling through emotion. I challenge you to take a new approach to networking this summer. Lighten up, share a little more of yourself, and notice how your elevator pitch flows with ease rather than angst. They’d be lucky to have you as part of their network, I promise.
I caught myself ruminating the other night. Actually, it’s been on and off for several weeks now. I’ve been pensive – worried about nothing in particular but seemingly everything all at once – health, family, money, the passing of time… it got existential real fast! One worry leaped to the next until a suffocating web of angst drowned out any possibility of sleep. Comically, not being able to sleep triggered yet another recurring cultural program that not enough sleep instigates illness. And on and on the spiral went.
In a desperate attempt to snap myself out of the vortex and get into my conscious thinking brain again (so I could fall asleep), I went to my go-tos: I tried some deep breathing, a body relaxation scan, repeating a mantra. Nothing was working. Out of options, I decided to coach myself in the moment and sit with the angst rather than try and push it away. (Yes, this is what coaches do in the middle of the night – they practice their craft!). What did my angst want and why wasn’t it leaving me alone?
I took the first worry that popped into my head: “What if something happens to my husband?” (Poor guy is the obvious character in the story given it’s 4am and he’s right next to me fast asleep). Before my brain seduced me to follow its trail of worry-thoughts, I confused it with a declaration of gratitude. “I’m so grateful to have this incredible human being sleeping safely and soundly next to me in bed.” Boom. The angst was gone.
I tried again – next worry popped in: “What if Henry’s dog walker can’t take him next month when we want to go away and we’re stuck?” (Henry is the next obvious choice in my worry-story given his 18lb-Boston-Terrier-self takes up three quarters of the bed). Before following the worry to its next stress stop, I slammed it with gratitude. “I’m so grateful for our incredible dog walker, Megan, who loves this creature even more than we do. What a blessing to have her in our lives.” Bam. My heart swelled a little bit and the worry-thought disappeared.
I went on for about 5 rounds of this before I drifted off into a very sweet sleep. This is in no way a Pollyanna attempt to lure you into a gratitude practice (you should be doing that anyway!). Combatting What Ifs with gratitude creates What’s Trues. These reframed truths instantly dilute the pain or fear behind your worry wart thought in the middle of the night. It’s a coaching magic trick.
“What if there’s not enough time?” > “I’m so lucky to have this time today and every day up to now. This year will be the best one yet.”
“What if that project falls through?” > “I’m so grateful that the right clients always seem to find their way to me. Thank you for abundance and impact.”
“What if I can’t say no?” > “I’m so proud of the courageous things I do each day. I always find a way to say no if that’s what I really mean.”
Your What Ifs can be tiny gnat-like worries, or mega bear-like worries. We don’t discriminate. Frame the fear as a What If and cancel, clear, and delete it instantly with a recognition of the opposite in your life. An aspect of the opposite exists in you, I promise.
I’d recommend this self-coaching as a way of life. But if nothing else, it will help you fall asleep faster!Read More
|Calling all perfectionists, control lovers, uber-achievers, and organization aficionados! Doesn’t the thought of a well-orchestrated and seamlessly executed zero inbox sound dreamy? Even imagining it fills me with a concerning amount of joy, as if I were walking the halls of the Container Store. Here’s how I see zero |
I’ve lived most of my life pursing the zero inbox. Not only literally, of course. Zero
One obvious flaw in my early-days, naivete is that capacity is finite. Duh, Valia. I overcame this hurdle by simply working more. Substituting any leftover space for play with more work. Easy. Follow this path and some days it works and other days the cost becomes what you’d expect: exhaustion, burnout, malaise, disenchantment… fill in your favorite depletion terminology.
There is a much more subtle (and costly) side effect of zero inbox living. You never get to what’s most important. For those who live this way, you know that there is a quantity vs. quality game. Since the goal of the game is to get to zero, you often gravitate to the really easy things first. Why? Because you can check more volume off of your literal or metaphorical to-do list, silly! It’s much easier to complete “order dish soap from Amazon” or “make vet appointment for Henry” than it is to complete “restructure staff responsibilities” or “create script for speaker reel”. The first two give me a sense of accomplishment (albeit false) while the second two give me agita.
Let’s continue. It’s one thing for me to spend a few extra minutes or hours each day cleaning
I was speaking to someone on my staff last week and, as always, we happily agreed: “Let’s go through the easy logistics things first.” Zero inbox 101. Crossing off many things quickly = false but very compelling sense of accomplishment. And as usual, we ended our call rushed, incomplete, and setting aside an additional meeting to get to the important things. And guess how we started the “important things” meeting? You guessed, it… “Let’s go through a few quick things first.” (For our clients who are laughing – yes, we teach what we need to learn most! I can teach you urgent vs. important till the cows come home, but it’s a different story behind my own screen!).
So, we agreed. I told her I would write a newsletter about it this week so that we can publicly declare a commitment to honor what’s more important – not only by
Some of you may be thinking – yes, Valia, you’re talking about prioritization 101. I’m not. I’m talking about something deeper. Shifting from needing perfection and organization to falling in love with messiness and disorder. I’m talking about finding meaning in progress versus perfection. I’m talking about recognizing that 5 minutes or 60 minutes or 3 weeks are not, in fact, created equal. I’m talking about choosing to perhaps leave a few emails or to-dos forever unanswered because that is the most important thing.
“Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things”.– Peter Drucker
|From Theory to Action|
If you don’t qualify as a perfectionist, control lover, uber-achiever, or organization aficionado – I’m giving you the week off from homework. If you do qualify, however, here’s your challenge. When you find yourself itching to tackle quantity over importance – STOP IMMEDIATELY. Be careful because this habit is sneaky. It might be as covert as “I’ll just tidy up my desk first” or as overt as “I need to get through these two things before I work on …”. Don’t start rationalizing because then you know you’re under the spell of the habit. Just STOP IMMEDIATELY.
After you stop, BREATHE. Look around, take a stretch, grab a sip of water. Then, once clear, ASK yourself: “What’s the most important thing I need to focus on right now?” Most likely, ordering soap from Amazon will not be at the top of the list. If you can connect your most important thing with a top value or business priority or outcome that you’re driving – this will multiply the effect. Then DO – one simple thing towards that most important thing. STOP, BREATHE, ASK, DO. STOP, BREATHE, ASK, DO. That’s it – now STOP reading this, BREATHE, and ASK: “What’s the most important thing I need to focus on right now in order to activate more personal leadership in my life?” So long, Zero.