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This Knowledge article from UPenn speaks to the need for more downtime, breaks, and off switch in the work place. Though it’s not rocket science what the authors point out, in fact many of these tips are pretty obvious, there’s still a great divide in office culture and employers’ understanding of the benefits of taking time off. We (American employees) still don’t even get that much vacation time, which to me, is insulting. Here’s some excerpts I wanted to share with you in hopes that you’ll make small, but significant improvements in your daily work flow:
staff at Volkswagen will be limited to only receiving emails on their devices from half an hour before they start work until half an hour after they leave for the day, and will be in blackout mode the rest of the time.
From Stewart Friedman, a Wharton practice professor of management,
we are starting the process of learning how to create useful boundaries that allow us to pay attention to the things that matter, when they matter. Organizations and schools need to help people learn how to manage those boundaries [between work and home] themselves, and train people to stem the deluge of data that threatens to drown us. People can learn to shut things off. It’s not easy, and it requires dedicated effort.
This means better communication both internally and externally in the office.
Nancy Rothbard, a Wharton management professor continues,
People feel this constant need to be connected. There’s no priority structure. Everything is urgent. Everything is red flagged. Yes, there are advantages to having these technologies — we can work more flexibly, and we can respond to crises more speedily. But there are disadvantages that we are underestimating.
How many times have you been glued to your Twitter stream reading tweets from the night before because you’re afraid you’ve missed some huge news or important article? We need to take a breather from these processes, rest our minds and create better work flows that keep us stimulated and engaged without becoming overwhelmed.
Jennifer Sabatini Fraone, assistant director of the Boston College Center for Work & Family, talks about disconnecting,
Being able to disconnect from work has great benefits to your health and productivity. The issue is not so much the calls or emails after hours: It is whether or not you have control over your time. If you do not have autonomy about when you are able to switch off and on, it causes stress.
Or, you could just move abroad:
Last month, Brazil introduced a law requiring companies to pay overtime to workers who make or receive work phone calls or emails outside of office hours.
Who’s responsible for making sure we take time off?
It’s the boss who should be saying: ‘We’re better if we are not working all weekend long.’ Companies should say: ‘If we give people their weekends, we get their weekdays,’” he says. “Part of the solution is figuring out how you approach work, and how you approach integrating family. This is where the importance of ground rules — and sticking to them — comes into play.
The point I want to get across in sharing this article, especially for those job searching and the others who are self-employed like me, is that your work environment is critical to your productivity and happiness. Read these tips from WECREATE on keeping focus, taking breaks, and being creative:
Based on observations of people making too many of the same mistakes, and those mistakes affecting my own personal network (and sanity), I feel compelled to throw up a “how NOT to network” post in hopes that the social awkwardness and aggressive behavior comes to a stop. Before I get into a rant, I want to backup my reasoning by giving you a quick background of the kind of networker I am and how it’s helped me win big.
I consider myself a connector, an “ambassador of awesomeness” if you will. I thoroughly enjoy being that person that people come to for help if they’re searching for something in their career or business - whether it’s pointing them to a site, an event, or a professional, I’m in this to help others. I appreciate two-way communication, a give and take, appreciation, generosity, and especially those who return the favor. I like a simple thank you, though I prefer a free meal or free drink! It’s these kinds of actions that show me my thoughtfulness, the time and effort I took to help YOU out was worth it. I think that’s a fair request.
It’s unfortunate that over the years, people I’ve let into my life one way or another (either through work or becoming friends), have abused this request. I can’t tell you how many leads I’ve given people, how many jobs I’ve helped them land, or even a couch to crash on while they get on their feet. In total I can remember - maybe - 5 people who’ve said, in person, to my face, “Thank you.”
Perhaps it’s an overlooked gesture or perhaps people are flat out greedy, but reciprocating a good deed like this should be encouraged more. And when it doesn’t happen, that abuser should be called out. Being nice is just one part of networking, but it’s a major part.
What is networking, even? To be honest, I hate the term. Networking to me is a couple of things:
Networking is not the following, if you ask me:
The above list of actions is just a small example of what I’ve seen in networking that really rubs me the wrong way.
Recently, I’ve experienced new “friends” taking advantage of networking opportunities by being aggressive, insensitive, and flat out creepy. It’s strange to me that these people don’t get the memo on proper social etiquette. Here’s some examples of how NOT to network:
DON’T CHANGE YOUR BIO / HEADLINE TO IMPRESS OTHERS.
One of my biggest pet peeves is being disingenuous. I can understand that we’re in an age where job hunting is now all about personal branding, but when you’re feeding into the hype by changing your bio every week to attract employers, there needs to be a line. Sure, you spend a lot of time using Twitter and Facebook and blog, but are you really a “Social Media Expert”? Think of other professionals who have been doing that job for years and would be insulted to have you title yourself as such without the evidence to back it. Be realistic with your bio and your professional headline - what can you prove in that line of work?
SAVE THOSE BUSINESS CARDS FOR THE RIGHT TIME.
I never was a firm believer in business cards as I had more fun telling people to simply search me online if they wanted my contact info. It was a great test to see who really wanted to connect, and who just wanted to collect emails for their address book. Even now that I do have my own set of business cards, they’re not something I give away all the time or to anyone. I like talking with people first and trying to figure out who they are. Are they just talking about themselves and the work they do? Or are they asking me the right questions back? Is there a way we can work together? Is this person just a good contact to have or could I carry on my life without knowing them? That’s how I determine who gets a business card. Additionally, being that person who can’t wait to give out a card before you even get to talk 5min to them makes you seem desperate. Take a deep breath and hang back, it’s not the end of the world if all 250 of those cards don’t get used in one night.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS WISELY.
This is a big one for me. I have a love/hate relationship with social media, I take it very seriously but I also understand it can be such a silly, over-saturated industry of so called “professionals” that I sometimes need to laugh. But, I happen to treat my list of social media contacts as I would PR contacts. For me, with everything I do, it’s all about the relationships I’m able to cultivate. So whether I follow you on Twitter, talk to you on GTalk, friend you on Facebook, or heart you on Tumblr, you are someone I put through a process of selection. Here’s some of the biggest ways to piss off not only me, but prospective contacts:
Adding them on Facebook WAY too fast - as in immediately after you met for the first time at a party where you were drunk. It’s just not cool and again, makes you seem desperate. In fact, you really shouldn’t add anyone on Facebook unless you consider them a person you value in your private life. You don’t need hundreds of friends to build a reputable network, believe me.
*I just realized this rule could be applied to LinkedIn as well. You DEFINITELY don’t want to piss off people there
Harassing HR folks and employers with too many follow ups - golden rule of 3 people: don’t go beyond 3 reminder emails if you haven’t heard back from someone. I know it can be quite frustrating to receive little or no reply, but let it go and save your energy for the next round of email pitches. Also don’t show up at their door unannounced, this isn’t the 80s where you print out your resume, put on your finest suit, and just go door to door asking for a job. Same goes for cold-calling, that’s just not the procedure these days. Make sure you have an in first. If not, move on.
Mass following people on Twitter - you don’t want to become a spambot do you? I didn’t think so. Sure there’s tons of people we want to chat with on Twitter, but sitting there and going through someone’s list (EH HEM, MINE!) of followers and clicking FOLLOW one by one is practically theft. Why? Again, you took no time to get to know these folks yourself. Want to piss them off even more? Pretend you’re their new best friend and start mass tagging them or replying all in conversations randomly. That person’s list you just stole is curated, which means they follow those people for a reason. So you stalking out who they’re talking to and just following blindly is bad practice. Cut it out and get your own followers!
Stop lying about your location - cool, you just moved to a new city, congrats! Got your own apartment yet or are you just bumming around town? Before you go off telling the Internet that you’re from New York City, settle in like an adult. Be honest and tell people you’re in transition or in between HQs, because if you get an interview and show up late because you haven’t memorized the subways yet, you’re going to look like an ass. I know, NYC is so exciting and everything is so new and fantastic, but I can bet you a buttload of money that telling a New Yorker you’re one of them when you’ve been here for a week will make them hate you instantly. You need to earn your place in this city.
Don’t ask her/him out - networking isn’t your gateway to scoring a date. Keep it professional. Just because you shared a beer with a cute girl while talking about work doesn’t mean you have the approval to make a move. Relax those hormones and remember you’re in a professional setting. Ask for those digits at some other place.
Pay up for that consultation - have a friend who’s super smart that you want to pick their brain all the time? Make the time and offer up compensation to ask them those questions. If you truly value their opinion and want guidance, treat them to a meal as if you were paying for an actual consultation. Sure, coffee chats are nice, but giving away advice for free when they could have made $100 isn’t. Asking them for favors (even through a text message!) and then not accommodating to their schedule is also not nice.
So, youngens (or old-ens) the next time an opportunity rises to get your “networking” on, remember these rules of thumb. Don’t be that person. Please.
I wanted to quickly share some insight from last week’s post on TechnologyReview.com which presumes today’s online presence is a bigger factor in securing a job than that dry, boring resume you send out. I completely agree that having a proactive strategy to showing who you are, what you do (or want to do), and your values in a creative way using the web is far more interesting and successful than cleaning up a dated resume. Personally, I’ve landed more gigs through my Flavors.me webpage and Mashable mentions than through a resume email attachment. So can you if you take advantage of opportunities through the social web.
Here’s what TR had to say:
“The résumé is vanishing as a way of representing who you are,” says Launa Forehand of Jobspring. Jobseekers…are proving their value through participation in online communities, and employers are increasingly using those venues to find and vet candidates.
One of the most important qualities as a jobseeker today is having a genuine interest in participating in relevant conversations. Find topics to talk about your passions, and connect with like-minded people. Those communities will do wonders for contact leads and resource exchanges.
“Being willing to share things you don’t know and seeking help in solving problems you’re working on are enormously powerful ways to attract people who share your interests.”
Ask, ask, ask. Never be afraid to speak up if you don’t know where to start or are stuck on getting to that next level. Just remember to be nice, return the favor, and know your boundaries.
Earlier generations might view such naked exposure as a double-edged sword. After all, answering a question online can reveal ignorance as well as expertise. In the emerging online ecosystem, though, it may be more important to contribute to the community than to demonstrate individual mastery.
I often work with both young professionals and older-generation businessmen and women who need a boost of courage when it comes to making a digital footprint. The best advice I can offer is experiment. In the beginning, the online world is very much a trial and error system. One way to gain confidence is to map out a SWOT analysis: your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Discover a community of thought leaders, peers/friends/colleagues, and mentors around those questions to develop a support system. The more you contribute, the better your reputation.
“Community isn’t just about relationships—it’s about becoming smarter and better at what you do,” says Jonathan Reed, an enterprise staffing consultant.
As a community manager to over a dozen sites in recent years, I can tell you that the most successful communities have emerged through cultivating relationships. Providing intelligent conversation starters and encouraging feedback is one of the best ways to attract audiences, whether you’re a company or a single professional. Don’t abuse those relationships.
For my tips on careers and business, read my contributing articles here.
social media, job hunting, and spreading your online presence
Tuesday September 27th at We Create NYC 10am.
Event info listed here.
I get a lot of questions about why I chose to leave the 9-5 world behind to pursue a full-time career as a freelancer. Even more so, I receive lots of encouragement to turn my freelancing into a full blown consultant business. I’ve been toying with the idea for a few years now, waiting for a big sign or push in the right direction, no doubt marking each year one step close to developing my own profitable business, but there are still days when I feel unprepared.
I’m not the only one. I’m fortunate to have a close knit network of friends, peers, and mentors who have at one time or another found themselves in my same boat. We’re all incredibly talented, driven, and smart when it comes to working towards an independent career, but how can we sustain it? Never-mind this unreliable economy, I don’t even think about unemployment anymore, or the astronomical student loan debt that permeates my every move - I just want to know how to become a successful entrepreneur. So do many other young professionals.
As I’ve participated in countless meetings, events, workshops, classes, and consultations with experts, I’ve gathered some basic tools on how to jumpstart my career towards entrepreneurship, and with the help of the fabulous people at We Create NYC, we can pass along our own tips to you.
We Create and I (along with a special guest speaker) will be presenting a new workshop in September: Transitioning a Freelance Career into Entrepreneurship to prepare young professionals make that leap from contract worker into small business owner with digital tools, resources, strategy plans, and brain food to boost.
So, how can you get involved? First - sign up and attend! We’ll be posting the event live in a few weeks, so check back here for more info.
Secondly, we want to hear from you - what questions do you have about freelancing, business, and entrepreneurship? What obstacles have you faced to deter you from making the leap? What kind of business would you like to start? Who would you hire, and why? How do you acquire a client base? What sites should you visit? All of these questions and more have crossed my mind and I’m sure have crossed yours. Feel free to add in your feedback here, or drop me a line via email.
Better yet - who has a success story to share? What tips can you provide? How have you inspired others? This is the type of connection I’d also like to make at the workshop.
Our morning workshop will cover the above topics plus offer a brainstorming case study session, following by open co-working hours where you’ll be able to talk with us more closely about your business ideas and career.
I’m excited to educate and motivate, and hope you are too! More details to come soon!
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