Five Business Networking Faux-Pas To Avoid For Young Professionals

business-networking-young-professionalsStarting your career in your chosen field is certainly an exciting time in your life. As your career begins to take off and flourish, there are certain activities and behaviours you can engage in to make the transition into work like more successful and fulfilling. One of these activities is often dreaded and feared by most, let alone young professionals who have little to no practice engaging in it: networking.

Despite this inherent fear, many people choose to overcome it and engage in as many networking opportunities as possible. They do so because they’ve realized one simple truth: your network is your net-worth. The more people you know, the more relationships you form, the more you will succeed in your field, whatever field that may be and regardless of the position you hold.

Now that we’ve established the importance of networking, there are some behaviours to stay away from when at a networking event. These behaviours will serve to not only undermine your executive presence, but will also result in a less-than-stellar networking “performance.” Here are four faux-pas to avoid while networking:

  1. Smelling like smoke
    It is understandable that many people smoke these days. However, if you are a smoker, it is really important that you do not go into a networking event right after smoking a cigarette. Non-smokers (and even many smokers) can’t handle the smell of second hand smoke on someone else. Remember, you are going to this event to meet people and engage them, and turning them off with cigarette smoke is not a great way to start.
  2. Trying to talk to everyoneIt is true that in networking and in business networking, the idea is to touch as many people as possible. You definitely do not want to be talking to the same person the whole night, as that defeats the purpose! However, you don’t want to be simply introducing yourself to someone, handing them your card and then moving on. It is important to establish a rapport with someone before you exit the conversation, to ensure they remember you. Handing them your card is simply not enough to do that.
  1. Have professional-looking business cards, no matter what stage you’re at
    Even if you are still a student, it is important to have professional-looking business cards (and enough of them!). Heavy card stock is always good, and a simple, clean look can go a long way. Make sure your information is easy to read and straightforward. If you are a student, your school likely has a business card format that you could use.
  2. Don’t bring a friend
    The idea at networking events is to meet new people, not to catch up with a friend. Often, when friends go to networking events together, they spend most of their time talking to each other. Going alone will force you to engage with and talk to others.
  3. Don’t drink too much
    This may seem like an obvious one, but often in stressful situations where we don’t feel the most comfortable, another glass of wine usually seems like a great idea. Having a few drinks over the course of the evening is acceptable; overdoing it to the point of inebriation will seriously damper your chances of a successful evening of networking. Pace yourself to one drink an hour, alternate with a glass of water or soft drink, with an absolute limit or three.

Networking can sometimes be scary and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are equipped with the right tools and know what behaviours to avoid, chances are you will have a fun and successful networking experience! Networking doesn’t always have be done at organized networking events, either. Check out our post on unique places you can network!

Double Standards: Why Women Often Struggle with Their Executive Presence

women-executive-presenceWe hope you enjoyed our blog series on The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle. There was certainly a lot to cover from the book, and in reality, each section covered could have been expanded upon much more. However, there was one section in particular, on power, that is arguably one of the most important sections from the book. Power can either make or break you; power comes first, and everything falls into place afterwards. It is for that reason that this week we will delve further into notions of power and powerlessness, what it means, and how it affects things like your physiology and emotional and mental states.

Dr. Amy Cuddy, a global leader on research around presence and body language, has recently published a book called Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. Chapter five in this book is entitled “How Powerlessness Shackles the Self (and How Power Sets It Free), and it examines the differences between personal and social power (which was covered in the Secret Handshake blog series), and the difference between having power and being powerless. Dr. Cuddy begins by explaining that powerlessness can often come about when were are faced with a big change in our lives, and is followed by a self-perceived loss of power, accompanied by feelings of insecurity and anxiety. This depleted state that we experience makes us feel that we cannot cope with the situation at hand. When this happens, opportunities become threats, and therefore we actively avoid them. This is arguably the most important aspect of power versus powerlessness: when you feel powerless, you avoid opportunities, and vice versa. Power activates the behavioural approach system, and powerlessness, the behavioural inhibition system.

Another important aspect of power that is essential to understand is that personal power is uniquely essential (as opposed to social power). As Cuddy states: “Unless we feel personally powerful, we cannot achieve presence, and all the social power in the world won’t compensate for its absence” (114).

Feeling Powerless

  • Feeling powerless impairs thought: powerlessness and the anxiety that results from it undermine what psychologists call executive functions. These executive functions include high-order cognitive tools like reasoning and attention control. It also induces goal neglect, which is the phenomenon of failing to remain focused on a goal
  • Powerlessness makes us feel self-absorbed: the link between anxiety and self-absorption is bidirectional – the more self-focused we are, the more anxious we become
  • Powerlessness prevents presence

Feeling Powerful

  • Power can protect us: power acts as a buffer against negative emotions
  • Power can connect us: feeling powerful can often improve our ability to read and relate to other people. In addition, when we feel powerful we allow ourselves to be more open to others
  • Power can liberate our thinking: power seems to improve our ability to make good decisions under complex conditions
  • Power can synchronize us: feeling powerful can synchronize our thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  • Power can incite action: simply put, feeling powerful makes people proactive
  • Power can make our actions more effective: remember how when we feel powerful, we approach opportunities instead of running away from them?

Clearly, there are so many incredible side-effects of feeling personally powerful. Not only does power positively affect our lives in these ways, but it also affects our physiology. For instance, studies have shown that high-status individuals (i.e. those who possess social power) tend to have high levels of basal testosterone, which is the dominance and assertiveness hormone. Secondly, those who lack feelings of power often exhibit higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. It therefore makes sense that people who have a high sense of personal power cope better in crises. Evidently, the power of power cannot, and should not, go unnoticed.

Ways to increase your personal power can be so simple as to adopt a better body posture. Other ways include adjusting how you speak with and engage with others, as well as actively trying to deter negative thoughts that make you feel powerless. When you do so, you will notice feelings of power slowly encroaching in your day-to-day interactions. Others will notice too!

Works Cited

Cuddy, Amy. Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015. Print.

How My Daughter’s Tragic Accident Brought the Gift of Life to 6 People

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When my 11 year old daughter Sandrine died in a school bus accident, the lives of 6 people were either saved or enhanced. Since 1999, I have worked with several organizations to help raise awareness of organ and tissue donation. Recently I met the incredible Hélene Campbell and I am in awe of what she has been able to achieve to help raise awareness for organ and tissue donation. By getting the attention of Ellen DeGenerous and Justin Bieber, more people than ever are talking about organ donation and registering their wishes.

 

Hélene received the gift of life a few months ago and after her moving press conference, I was asked by Laura DiBatista  on Here and Now at CBC to share my experience.
Please click to Listen audio (runs 8:17)

 

Diane Craig sat on the board of directors for Trillium Gift of Life Network, where she played a major role in governance issues and developing communication strategies, from 2004 to 2016. She is the founder of Sandrine’s Gift of Life, a not-for-profit organization focused on organ and tissue donation awareness and often speaks about her passion for organ and tissue donation and how we can best serve those on waiting lists. Here’s another CBC piece with Diane Craig and Don Cherry:

In Ontario you can register your wish to donate at www.beadonor.ca.

Please talk to your family and share this post to spread the word. Someone’s life depends on it.