Networking Essentials: Warming Connections
Emma Siu and Patricia Rausch
February 10, 2021
Networking Essentials: Warming Connections
With limited in-person events, you'll find many new barriers and obstacles to networking. Everyone faces one glaring challenge -- how to turn a cold connection into a warm one. When you cultivate your current network to connect you with new people, you'll find greater success than going it alone. What is a Cold Connection and why is it bad?A cold connection, or cold call, is an unsolicited request to connect or act when you don't already know the person or have common ground to work from. These attempts to connect can be off-putting to the receiver, who is more likely to decline or even ignore your connection, request, or ask because it feels “cold.” In order to warm yourself up to people, you should find a mutual connection to help with the introduction. This is where your network comes into play.Identify Your Current Network Stakeholders1. Who do I already know?Create a spreadsheet or database of everyone who you consider part of your personal network. This should include friends, current co-workers, past colleagues, mentors, etc. Include how you met, where they currently work, perhaps some of their past employment history, email address, phone number, address, birthday, social media accounts, and any other information you would find helpful to remember.2. Divide that list into two categoriesEveryone you are connected to in some way can be defined as part of your inner circle or your outer circle. Your inner circle is likely family and close friends who you go to for very personal advice and counsel. They're likely to have your best interests in mind, but may not always give the best advice. They also might not always be willing to mix business and pleasure. This is why you should have an outer circle too.Your outer circle contains your coworkers, friends, and colleagues at other organizations or businesses, bartenders at your regular happy hour spot, fellow Junior League members, etc. While you may not interact with them on a regular basis, these individuals, statistically, are more likely to connect you with other people than your inner circle ever will. You'll soon realize it is of mutual benefit to you and other members of your outer circle to enjoy a healthy reciprocation of IOUs and, as Morton Blackwell says, you should not keep a careful tally. Now that you have your network mapped out, let's work on that cold call.Three Ways to Turn a Cold Call into a Connection 1. Determine if the person you're trying to contact is a connection to someone in your network.The warmest connections will always come through your friends and network. Ask your friends to introduce you to people you want to connect with. An introduction increases your social credibility to new connections.If you are running a conference and you're looking for a speaker for a specific topic, you might learn that an executive at another organization would be perfect for it. Unfortunately, your attempt to send an unsolicited email will likely be met with silence. The smart networker will notice they have a former colleague who works at that organization and ask them if they would be willing to make an introduction.2. Build your reputation in mutual interest groups.Another way to warm a connection is to connect through mutual interests. Post in multiple online groups, comment on posts, and use relevant hashtags so your name becomes more familiar before you send a connection request.You may see a job opening on a company's website, but you want to know more before applying. Unfortunately, there isn't an email address listed, so you can't reach out to someone in the organization. You think you'll be clever and find someone who works there on Facebook and message them for more info but unbeknownst to you, they don't read messages in their “other” inbox and find it invasive when job seekers try to contact them in that way. Luckily, you know there are some standard industry Facebook groups and a few of the staff of that company are members, so you join too. When you start to engage in the conversation and interact with them, you end up bringing new people into your outer circle. You can then use this mutual group to get help from someone in your network. 3. Send a personal messageLastly, you can warm a cold connection when you send a personalized message along with your request -- especially on LinkedIn or by e-mail. Your message should emphasize the motivation behind the connection request and make the recipient feel special by emphasizing their skills or talents as well as the value you will provide them. Do your research to find out what that message should look like for each unique contact. You can note the exchange of industry knowledge, quality content, future introductions to people of interest, or even how they'll make a difference in a field they care about.You could be growing your small consulting business and come across a business you think would do well to pay for your services. Unfortunately, it happened by chance, and you don't know anyone who works there and don't know any groups to which the owner belongs. But what you do have is a knowledge of their industry. You know what you can do to help them, successes you've had with similar clients, how success would look for them, and the overall benefits they'll get from working with you. If you are able to truly tailor your initial contact request to them, you're much more likely to get a response. The TakeawayContinue to cultivate your existing network and always be courteous. The key to warm up a connection is to make connecting feel natural. Find common ground, connections, or interests.Make sure you continue to provide useful content, value, and quality conversations to your network. If you have a big ask, now or in the future, it will not feel like it is coming from a needy stranger, but from a helpful friend or connection.And remember, even if someone declines a request, make sure you thank them for their time. Courtesy can go a long way and leave a memorable and positive impression.
One Simple Tactic to Boost Your LinkedIn SEO Today
Emma Siu
February 5, 2021
One Simple Tactic to Boost Your LinkedIn SEO Today
The default URL for LinkedIn profiles is an unhelpful jumble of numbers and letters. You'll raise your online ranking and appear at the top of LinkedIn search results when you customize your LinkedIn URL. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plays a key role to get your content viewed online and outrank your competitors. SEO is what dictates how visible your profile is when searched, based on factors such as keywords and high-quality content. You will rank higher within LinkedIn Search (and Google) if you add your name as a keyword to your custom LinkedIn URL. This is especially valuable for people/brands with common names. When you rank higher it increases your visibility with important connections and recruiters. What is a good LinkedIn URL?Your URL should include your proper name. Avoid spaces or special characters. A safe bet is to type your name all in one word or separate out the name with a dash or underscore.Example: https://www.linkedin.com/in/Jon_DoeHow do I change my LinkedIn URL?Login and click on your profile icon located in the upper right-hand corner. Then select “View Profile.” On the upper right-hand side of your profile, select “Edit public profile and URL.” When clicked, this will open a new page in a separate tab. In the upper right-hand corner of the new page, under “Edit your custom URL,” select the blue pen icon, and type in your new LinkedIn URL.It's that simple. You're now easier to find online!
Top 6 Digital Skills Employers Look for in Employees
Emma Siu
January 7, 2021
Top 6 Digital Skills Employers Look for in Employees
Whether you are looking for a job or seeking a career change, these skills will help you become the most desirable potential employee in 2021. If you don't have these skills yet, don't worry. Leadership Institute offers a variety of courses to help you learn the skills you need to win.ProgrammingHTML, Python, Java, and SQL grow as more businesses need to improve their online presence. Just knowing the basics of one of these languages can show employers you can incorporate programming into your decision making.Data AnalyticsBeing able to take large quantities of data and transform it into meaning is invaluable. Employers look for individuals who can find trends in data and come up with actions based on the trends. The Leadership Institute offers an Introduction to Google Analytics course to help you get started.Social Media MarketingSocial media marketing goes beyond knowing how to use social media casually. This means understanding algorithms, the associated analytics tools, learning how to gain followers, as well as knowing how to create a high-quality post to send a message and gain attention.SEOSearch Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is how to direct people to your website and its resources. When you know how to boost your ranking and generate unpaid traffic to a site, you will be set up for success. UXUX, or User Experience, is how someone interacts with a website or app and how users feel while using your product. When you are skilled in user experience, you will be able to use tools such as heatmaps and analytics to determine how people are using a product/service. Understanding user experience is great, but being able to anticipate the problems or roadblocks a product/service might cause is invaluable.CommunicationBeing able to communicate with a team as well as customers is very important. Online communication mediums such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, Slack, Meets, SMS, and Email are all important to cultivate relationships. When you know how to use these tools to connect with others, this will get you ahead of the game.
5 Actions to Ensure a Successful Career Strategy in 2021
Kelsey Mix
December 14, 2020
5 Actions to Ensure a Successful Career Strategy in 2021
1. Make a plan for one career-related activity in early 2021.This could be anything -- attend a Leadership Institute training, read a book related to career development you have been putting off, or spend 30 minutes to polish your LinkedIn profile. 2. Volunteer with a cause or organization that is important to you.This serves as an opportunity to give back to your community in a meaningful way. While in-person volunteering may look different this Christmas, there are still ways to get involved if you put in the time.Bonus, who knows who you may meet. These days, meeting new people is a challenge. Take this opportunity to engage with others outside of a professional environment. Maybe you will meet someone who could be a part of your professional network. 3. Set calendar reminders for early 2021 tasks. For example, set a reminder for early February to ping five contacts you have not spoken to in a while. A short email, not asking for anything. Simply reconnect and ask how their holiday was. 4. Find an accountability partner for your biggest 2021 career goals and make an action plan together. I am a big believer in accountability partners. Accountability partners are often referenced in the health, exercise, or money fields, but not in the career field.Find a partner and schedule a standing monthly call to discuss your progress at work. Review what went well, what you need to work on, and make sure your actions align with the strategies you set at the beginning of the year. 5. Write letters to a few people who have made a difference in your year. Write personalized handwritten notes sharing how grateful you are to have them in your life.It could be people on your team, a boss, or a mentor who helped you this year. Maybe they provided career advice or direction. Perhaps they connected you with someone who turned out to be meaningful for you professionally. Maybe they make zoom calls more enjoyable.Whoever they are, send them notes telling them you appreciate them.
How to Invite Someone to Interview or Speak
Emma Siu
December 9, 2020
How to Invite Someone to Interview or Speak
7 minute readWhether you ask someone to speak at an event, or ask someone for a podcast interview, it is important to know how to request someone's time. Showing due respect will help you Everyone likes compliments. Respectfully highlight their accomplishments and explain why they are the right person. Let them know the value they can bring to your audience and why you want their time. Good invitations are clear, easy to read, and contain all background information your guest needs to decide in your favor. Keep it short People do not have time to read essays. Keep to the point, and make sure you clearly ask for what you are looking for. A helpful hint: use a combination of bullet points and bold words to make it easier for your reader to get the gist of an email by quickly skimming it. Do not fear rejection You do not know if someone will reject your offer until you ask them. You may be surprised by the number of people who will accept your invitations. Dream big and send requests to people even if you think they are out of your reach. You never know who will say “yes.” Be persistent Cast a big net. Ask a wide variety of interesting people, and do not be afraid to follow up if there is no initial response. But remember, there is a fine line between persistence and annoyance. If someone politely declines, find another person to ask. Follow up If your potential speaker responds, always follow up. If the response is positive, thank them for accepting your request. “A prompt, generous letter of thanks can seal a commitment which otherwise might disappear when the going gets rough,” writes Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell in his Laws of the Public Policy Process.Ideally, you will send them a calendar reminder and follow up again at least twice before the event. If the response is negative, nevertheless send a thank you. Thank them for considering the request. Try to leave the interaction on a positive note. You may be able to find a win-win scenario in the future. Structure your requestDo not overthink it. Here is a simple structure to make sure you are concise while getting to the point: Greeting, introduce yourself and your cause, ask for what you want the interviewer to do, include details such as dates and topic points, include the value that the speaker/interviewer will bring, thank them for their consideration, and sign off.
4 Tips to Use in Your Next Online Meeting
Emma Siu
December 4, 2020
4 Tips to Use in Your Next Online Meeting
5 minute readLook like the professional you are while you participate in online meetings.Camera Location Whether you are using a separate webcam or the one built into your laptop, make sure the camera is at eye level.This may mean putting some boxes/books under your laptop, but it is worth it. A camera at eye level provides a flattering angle and is how your coworkers would view you if you were in the office. Lighting Make sure your face is well lit, and visible. The light should be behind your webcam aimed at your face. Ideally, your light will come from a window because natural light is the most flattering. You can also purchase a ring light for a more professional appearance. When purchasing a light, find one that changes the intensity of light and brightness. If you wear glasses that get the ring glare, a bar light is a great alternative that will reduce the glare on your glasses. If you do not have time to buy a light, you can always use floor lamps to get the desired effect. Background You want your background to be professional and not too distracting. Sit in front of a blank wall and make sure there are only simple things behind you. Remember to avoid a cluttered background, the focus should be you and not your background. Bookshelves, plants, and paintings are great ways to create a virtual office background. Remember Camera Etiquette When you are speaking, speak to your webcam, not to the screen. Put a sticky note behind your camera with some eyes drawn on to help you remember where to talk. Unless you have turned off your camera, you should always be sitting in a professional way. Avoid leaning on your hand or putting your head down on the table at all costs.
How to Win Your Next Job Interview
Emma Siu
November 12, 2020
How to Win Your Next Job Interview
10 minute readYou've already got the interview, now all you have to do is win your employer over. Here is a helpful guide to common interview questions, answers, and closers to help you succeed.1. Do your research.Research the company you are interviewing for thoroughly. Know the company mission statement, goals, successes, and even their pain points. Research your interviewer as well. This might tell you what kind of questions they could ask or give you the ability to connect on a personal level. Remember, your interviewers are human so it's important to get along well with them to show them you can fit well with their team. When you can imagine yourself working at an organization, the interviewer can too.2. Find the questions.The internet can be overwhelming with the amount of interview questions available. Make sure you find common interview questions as well as ones specific to your field. Here is a downloadable Question and Answer Guide with 8 popular interview questions. You should also have questions to ask the interviewer. Make sure to ask a closer question to quell any doubts your interviewer may have about you.3. Practice interviews.Find a few friends or family members to do practice interviews with you. Take this exercise seriously. Have your allies create their own questions for you, so you can get a sense of answering questions on the spot. If you get flustered by a question you can't answer, tell them: “That's a great question, let me give it some extra thought.” That way you can pause for a few seconds to give yourself more time to think up an answer. Practice in the same format as your interview (phone, Zoom, in-person, etc.) to help reduce your anxiety the day of your interview. Get your practice interviewer to give honest feedback afterwards. It can be hard to accept criticism, but it's best to hear it from a friend before your interview.4. Prepare your cheat sheet.Create a list of key points about you, important details of the organization, and your closing questions. If you have a phone or video interview, put your list in front of you, as well as paper to take notes on important things your potential employer says. In an in-person interview, you must memorize your key points. In addition, you should bring a copy of your cover letter, resume, and a pen and paper for any notes you may wish to write down.5. Present yourself well.Depending on the format of your interview, presentation can mean a lot of things. If you have a phone interview, dress nicely to put yourself in a professional mindset. If you have a video interview, make sure your background is professional. Find a blank wall or office type background. Remember to keep lighting in mind. Ring lights are great for lighting but not necessary: try plugging in lamps near your interview space so you can control the lighting. Make a test video to ensure you can be seen and heard correctly. If you have an in-person interview, make sure you are dressed well and are organized. In any interview your phone should be out of sight and on silent. Focus on the interviewer, smile, and ensure there will be no interruptions.6. Follow-up with your interviewer.Right after the interview, send an email thanking the interviewer for their time. Make sure you thank interviewers for the opportunity regardless of how the interview went. This is not only courteous, but will show interviewers your professionalism and dedication.
6 Photography Tips for Social Media
Emma Siu
November 12, 2020
6 Photography Tips for Social Media
7 minute readLearn how influencers make their photos pop and how you can take your photos to the next level.1. Think about the message you want your picture to send.It's easy to snap a quick picture, but you should focus on the message you want to convey. What message do you want your viewers to receive? Pin down the message you want to send, then choose and place your subject matter. Think about how you can stage a picture to present your message. Every little detail contributes to help you present your message through the feeling a picture prompts in your audience.2. Choose your camera and settings.Take more pictures. You can take high-end photos with most cell phones. Play with the settings on your phone's camera. Include where you want the focus to be, whether you want to see a grid, and the size of the picture you plan to take. Professionals should invest in a DSLR camera to improve image quality. The more details you can control with your camera, the higher quality your outcome will be. You want your original picture to be as perfect as possible, so you have minimal edits to make.3. Play with the lighting before you take a picture.You can change lighting in the editing phase, but ultimately there is no substitute for good lighting in the original picture. Make sure your subject is not backlit and that light comes in from multiple angles (not just an overhead or direct light), to make the subject look natural. Play with the lighting before you take a picture to make sure you get your desired effect. Natural light will look the best, so use it if possible. There is a reason you see influencers talk about “golden hour” as it is a golden opportunity to take some amazing pictures.4. Take multiple shots.The perfect picture is not likely the first shot you take. Take several shots from multiple angles with different kinds of light. What looks good in the moment may not look as great in the editing process. Take many pictures and you'll have more options.5. Edit your photos.No picture should go directly from your camera roll onto your social media. Each image you post should be carefully edited to send the ideal message. Editing your photos in Adobe Photoshop will give your photos that refined look that influencers seem to effortlessly achieve. Photoshop will be a great asset and is an important skill for you to build in photography. Learn how to use Photoshop before the end of this year at an upcoming digital training with the Leadership Institute.6. Post timely photos and tag them.Make sure you tag photos correctly so your image can easily draw your audience. Your tag system depends on which platform you post on.Look at your competitors and friends and see what tags they post that you can take advantage of. Check out hashtags your community follows and include the relevant tags in your post. For places like Facebook where hashtags are not as helpful, make sure you post at a time of day when your page or group draws the most traffic.
A Personal Letter to the Staffer whose Campaign Lost
Lee Jackson
November 10, 2020
A Personal Letter to the Staffer whose Campaign Lost
So… you lost. I get it. I would call what you're going through a gut check, but that term doesn't seem to be strong enough. For one reason or another, your campaign came up short. I have been where you are right now. I've been there multiple times. You put your life on hold for months, you're mad at the world, you're mad at yourself, and you probably question if it was even worth it.Trust me, it was. Campaigns are cruel and unforgiving. It's a sick joke that your campaign could have done everything perfect and still lost. Throw in human slip-ups and unforced errors and it's almost like it's game over from the start. It's like it's your turn on Family Feud, your family already has two Xs, and Steve Harvey has asked you to stand on your head, drink a glass of milk, and name the third reason why the chicken crossed the road.To make matters worse, it probably feels like you got the answer right. You and your team outworked the other side and factors beyond your control prevented you from the victory you have been chasing. Or worse, someone on your team wasn't doing their job and, if they had, the outcome may had been different. Either way, the race is over.It's okay to be upset. You're going through a mixture of feeling professional whiplash, questioning what the purpose of your life is without a candidate to please, and it hurts in a way that can only be compared to the first time you had your heart broken.Just remember you are not the first person to lose. And losing does not mean your career or your time in the public policy process is over. I lost two major campaigns in a row before I won my last race in 2019. Don't forget, Abraham Lincoln lost his U.S. Senate race five years before he was elected President of the United States. Take the time you need from this race to decompress. Go home and watch the Sound of Music with your mother. Trust me, it will make her happy. Sleep in until 2:00pm after watching The Office for 12 hours straight.Remember you learned a lot this last year. I promise you could run laps around the person you were a year ago. Even though your campaign came up short, that doesn't mean you didn't grow as a person. You harnessed new skills that can slingshot your career forward. Send me an email when you're ready to sharpen your skills in order to re-enter the arena stronger than ever before. One of my favorite Morton Blackwell quotes is “You owe it to your philosophy to learn how to win.” Yes, that means you. You can also see the list of upcoming LI trainings here.And when the fire in your stomach is back, go looking for the next campaign. Don't wait for 2022. For example, Virginia is going to have some competitive elections up and down the ballot in 2021. Winning a tough Virginia election is a great way to redeem yourself. Just remember, Rocky always had his best fights after he got his butt kicked in front of the entire world.
Keep Your Cool When Things Get Heated Online
Emma Siu
November 8, 2020
Keep Your Cool When Things Get Heated Online
5 minute readWhether it's an internet troll or someone with different views, it's important to know when it's time to participate, and when it's time to move on with your day.What is an internet troll?An internet troll is someone online who aims to make others angry. Trolls love to get people on all sides riled up just because they can. Still, not everyone who makes you angry online is an internet troll. They may just have a different opinion. Usually people who want to discuss ideas or topics will use facts in their argument, where internet trolls will use broad generalizations that are known to get angry responses.Decide whether or not to engage.If there is a comment on your page or in your group with an opinion or stance you disagree with, it's okay to write a comment in response to your stance. Remember, the comment section is not the place for a debate. Try not to respond more than twice. Ask truly interested parties to move to Direct Messages or communicate in a place for debate. If someone is “trolling” in the comments or on one of your posts, it's best not to even dignify them with a response. Not every comment needs to be answered. If a comment is excessively malicious or inappropriate, report and delete.Give level-headed responses.When you decide to write a reply, make sure you are not angry. It's easy to quickly write out a sharp-tongued answer, but that's not necessarily what you want. If you are mad, don't respond right away. Walk away, take some deep breaths, and come back in five minutes. The best way to reply, if you still choose to, is to respond with facts. Never resort to name calls or threats online, which will put you on the fast track to be banned or shadow banned. Before you hit the send button, think “would I be okay with saying this out loud?"Make sure you stay on message.Responding to comments is a great way to build your community, if your comments align with your online goals. Your comments must be on brand. You don't want to send mixed messages or detract from the message you try to convey.
Plan Now for Life After November 3rd: An Open Letter to a Young Campaign Staffer
Lee Jackson
October 8, 2020
Plan Now for Life After November 3rd: An Open Letter to a Young Campaign Staffer
Dear Over-Caffeinated, Underpaid Worker Bee:Congratulations! You made it to October.By now, every day is a new adventure. You're working seven days a week, you're hooked on the campaign high, and you're back and forth between having the time of your life and wanting election day to just get here already.But we need to take a moment and talk about life after November 3rd. Right now, it's probably hard to envision.I had been working for my candidate for roughly a year by the time Election Day rolled around on my last campaign. That means for a year, my boss was the most important person in my life. For a year, he and I had traveled the district together, hoped and dreamed about the future, and he became a second father to me. The most important thing to me was getting him re-elected. I felt that I owed him victory and, for so many personal reasons, failure was not an option.Because of the loyalty I had to my candidate, I felt guilty thinking about life after Election Day. Every second I spent doing so was a second not being spent to give my boss the victory I had promised him. However, I was wrong to think this way -- and he likely would have been disappointed if he had realized what was going on in my head.One of the many things the Leadership Institute is known for is Morton Blackwell's Laws of the Public Policy Process. If you have never read them before, I would encourage you to read them HERE.I always had a copy of the laws framed in my office for campaign volunteers to read.One law that stuck with me was number 18: You can't save the world if you can't pay rent. When I first heard this law, I took it to mean candidates who want win must raise money. Heaven knows I said it to my candidate countless times, stressing how important call time was. However, it rings true for you as an individual as well.The hard truth is, some of your campaigns will win, others will not. For better or worse, elections have clear winners and losers. The good news is, if you win (and work hard), your campaign is likely to offer you a job.Now is the time to start planning your life on November 4th without your current candidate in the picture.If you want to stay in the political arena, start networking now. It's a cruel joke that just as our campaigns need us most, we have to start seriously considering our future. I would recommend having four or five solid leads and a failsafe. For a while, my failsafe was going back to McDonald's.Each year, there are operatives who decide campaign life isn't for them. That's okay. Many of them go back to school or join a sales team and excel in those roles.If you want to stay in the public process, I encourage you to check out the Leadership Institute's Conservative Jobs HERE.Conservative Jobs is your free job bank, connecting recruiters and job seekers of all experiences across America. If you have questions about Conservative Jobs or would like someone at the Leadership Institute (LI) to review your resume, you can email my coworker, Kelsey at kmix@leadershipinstitute.org. LI is proud to be a resource placing conservatives in government, politics, and the media.I also encourage you to look at states that have elections in 2021.During off numbered years, I packed up my car and moved to Virginia to work on a campaign. For better or worse, Virginia doesn't have campaign contribution limits, so local House of Delegate races could be more than a million dollars. Working on campaigns every year allowed me to learn more skills and move up the totem pole twice as fast as many of my peers.No matter what you do next, you owe it to yourself to start planning.I always consider the time between one campaign and the next as my “funemployment.” Don't forget to take the time to unwind and relax too.My final words of advice for the next three weeks: stay away from pizza, try to sleep at least six hours a night, start thinking about life after Election Day, and keep day dreaming of that well-deserved tropical vacation to get you through one more walkbook.Keep on knocking,Lee
Epidemic of the Modern Workplace: Burnout I Lead Your Future Episode 6
Christopher O'Neil
August 14, 2020
Epidemic of the Modern Workplace: Burnout I Lead Your Future Episode 6
You're floating in the clouds, your childhood friend you haven't seen in ten years flying next to you until a blaring siren strikes you from the sky like Icarus. You half open your eyes and face the grueling task of deciding whether or not to hit snooze. You may resist it and sun's ruthless, unforgiving rays with every ounce of your being, but you must arise. The world is counting on you!If you've ever lived through that saga, you're probably familiar with workplace stress. It's imposing, formidable older brother is something you may have also contended with: burnout. You may have had a good laugh like I did at the dramatic story above, but burnout is no joke.Symptoms include demotivation and detachment from work, ineffectiveness, feeling a lack of accomplishment, emptiness, self-doubt, self-isolation, a neglect of personal needs, and even a desire to drop out of society completely. It can even lead to depression, memory loss, sleep problems, alcohol abuse, weakened immune systems and poor job performance.Burnout is characterized by emotional exhaustion, unchecked buildup of stress across long periods of time and it has been called the epidemic of the modern workplace. The line between stress and burnout can often be hard to draw, but they are two very different things. Dr. Cregg Dyke explains how it's difficult to pinpoint where stress becomes burnout, but stress always comes first. Sometimes, burnout can be harsh enough that you won't even recognize who you used to be beforehand. This can all seem rather overwhelming, but you're not helpless to stop it. Don't be discouraged, and don't think for one second that you're alone.There are three steps you can take to stand your ground.1. Get Help!Work with your employer to change your circumstances. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant says “burnout is not in your head, it's in your circumstances.” That means you must take charge of your surrounding stress points. Your organization plays a large role in your circumstances, so it's their duty to take part in the solution.There are three ways you can work with your employer to change your circumstances. The first is to reduce the demands of the job. There's no shame in recognizing that you've been given more than you can handle. No one can carry the weight of the world. The second is for the organization to give you more control to manage the load you carry. Finally, an organization can provide plenty of resources for support and help in the form of counseling and other methods to help you cope. 2. Find Purpose!We, as people, are meaning seekers. Without it, life can look pretty bleak; and whether we recognize it or not, we need meaning in our lives. Author, philanthropist, and entrepreneur Bob Bufford referred to “smoldering discontent” as something many workers contend with when they build their lives of success for decades, and then realize their lives have no deep significance to them. Psychologist Adam Grant says the strongest buffer against burnout is a sense of daily progress. Take small steps forward every day. While they don't have to be large, be sure to keep them consistent.3. Track, track, track!The best way to stay on track is by keeping track. Make a list of everything that makes you feel anxious, stressed, and worried. For each item, write at least one way to modify or mitigate the stress you face. Find a routine that addresses behaviors that contribute to your stress and meet it with solutions at every change you get!To learn more about how you can help yourself and others take arms against the ferocity of burnout, be sure to listen to the Lead Your Future Podcast Episode 6, called Epidemic of the Modern Workplace: Burnout. In the second half of this episode, Patti Rausch, the Director of Career Programs at the Leadership Institute shares her own story with burnout. She took a leave of absence to work on a campaign where the weight of a family member's death placed an immense weight on her shoulders, and she came face to face with the foreboding force of burnout. The only way she was able to conquer it was by working with her supervisor, recognizing the burnout was only temporary, and facing it head on together. In order to fight burnout, remember that you are not helpless! You can stop it! Be sure to know your needs, know your circumstances, and develop effective coping mechanisms that work for you. You can get out of bed in the morning with an energy you don't think you have, don't let depression win, and listen to Episode 6 of the Lead Your Future Podcast on your favorite platform: YouTube, Acast, Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Play, Soundcloud, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, Facebook, Twitter.
The New Normal – What to Expect When You Return to the Office
Spencer Evans
August 10, 2020
The New Normal – What to Expect When You Return to the Office
Each organization will develop its own policy weighing up the benefits of returning to work with employee safety.Many have announced indefinite remote policies until a vaccine becomes mainstream, others are waiting to follow the lead of government guidelines, and some are considering phased returns now as they put measures in place to prevent wide spread infection among their staff.This situation is unprecedented. No one can know for sure when working culture will be back to normal.When you return to the office, bear in mind that even with safety measures in place your colleagues will expect you to act in a way that keeps them (and you) healthy. Returning to in-person work does not mean you are returning to normal.You are unlikely to have the water fountain hangouts with your coworkers, or any big sit-down lunch breaks.It is likely that when you return to work, your employer will require you to wear a mask. Be generous to your employer, even if safety measures appear excessive, remember that they are liable for what happens in your office space and may have little control over the policy.To avoid trouble with your boss, keep multiple masks on you or around you at work. Do not risk losing it and having to return home or missing out on meetings because you are not welcome in the room.If you are the boss, you will be expected to set an example. Your staff will follow your lead. Make sure you communicate what's expected of your staff in order to avoid any unpleasant conflicts between members of your team later on.But probably the most important aspect to prepare for is the cultural difference you will see. Simple things like shaking hands and sharing an elevator may become awkward. People may not wish to share your office supplies and expect you to wipe down common areas, such as the printer area or kitchen, after use.The important thing to realize is that these precautions are not personal. Your employer puts them into place to keep their staff safe. Even if you think it's over the top, respect your company policies and co-workers' safety precautions. You do not know what is going on in someone else's personal life, so give them grace. They could be living with their grandparents or have a baby at home.Don't be offended by your colleague's extra caution, even if it seems excessive. Communication is key. Be polite and let people know what you expect from them. If you are nervous about a colleague's lack of care, talk to them. But do not be the office grandmother either. Your HR department is on hand should you need them.Everyone is excited to get back to normal. No one is enjoying this. If you communicate with colleagues and practice safe working practices, you can make returning to work a smooth process when the time comes.
3 Ways to Effectively Communicate with Your Boss
Spencer Evans
July 14, 2020
3 Ways to Effectively Communicate with Your Boss
Looking at my watch, I anxiously pace back and forth in the hall. I was supposed to talk to my boss 10 minutes ago, but I was too nervous. I planned to discuss innovative ways to improve the office. I was intimidated and unsure of myself, but I pushed on.Many people struggle with talking to their bosses. Whether discussing time off, salary, or problems at work, everyone has to deal with these conversations at some point. To help you succeed, let me share with you three of the best ways you can effectively communicate with your boss.1. Be confident and have a plan.This should be self-explanatory, but it needs to be said. If you go to talk to your boss, they can tell if you're not confident. When you communicate with your boss, you should be confident in your speech, body language, and demeanor.Easier said than done, so how exactly do you become more confident? The best way to achieve this is to produce a plan. Before you go into the meeting, plan what you are going to talk about. More importantly, consider possible responses to what your boss might say.For example, let's say you talk to your boss about taking some days off for vacation. Before going in, you should have an idea of how many days you want to take off, what you have done to earn the days off, and what you will complete before you leave. This plan allows you to walk in with exactly what you are going to discuss and how you will respond to questions. This makes you look confident and makes it easier for your boss to say yes.2. Be solution oriented.When you communicate with your boss, make sure the discussion is solution oriented. People don't like listening to others complain or rant about their problems. This is especially true with your boss, whose time is limited. But, good bosses are always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of the business.If you find something that is time consuming or causes problems for staff, try to figure out a solution to the problem. Anyone can present problems. You're hired to find solutions.Going in with this mindset will serve you well. Your boss will not only take you more seriously as an employee if your solutions work, but they will see you as a future leader.3. Be honest and know when to say no.Your boss wants honesty. Honesty builds trust, which you'll need to earn. Don't be the person who lies under pressure, or takes on too much because you're afraid to say you're overworked. You'll be respected all the more for prioritizing correctly and knowing your own limitations.For example, John is a new employee who enjoys his job. But, this past week, he was taking on too many assignments, to the point where it was too much. He couldn't say no to his new coworkers and bosses, because he wanted to make them happy. But he was lagging, and people were starting to take notice.His new boss called him in for a meeting to discuss what exactly was going on. John, after walking in, immediately started complaining about how they were issuing him too much work. How he had only just started, and they were forcing everything on him. How everyone else didn't have nearly as much work as he did.Do you see any problems with this? I hope so, because this is the opposite of what should have happened.From the beginning, John should communicate with coworkers, explain his current workload priorities, and establish healthy boundaries. Failing that, he should go to his boss with a plan and establish realistic deadlines. That way, he and his boss can look at his current work and reprioritize. If John waits until it's gotten out of hand and he's overwhelmed, he's already made a bad impression.Final Thoughts…Talking to your boss can be extremely difficult and nerve-racking. But if you approach with honesty, present a confident plan, and show your boss you are solution-oriented, you'll do great. Each and every one of us will have to talk to a boss at some point in our lives. When the day comes to take action, you'll be well prepared.
3 Steps to Effectively Juggle Work and School
Spencer Evans
June 12, 2020
3 Steps to Effectively Juggle Work and School
Hearts pounding, anxiety going through the roof; the whole room went quiet as the final results came in. I was six months into the Louisiana Gubernatorial Election, and we were going into a highly contested primary. I had spent countless hours at the office and in the field doing everything I could to win this election for my candidate. All the while, I was taking 18 hours of college classes. I had my fair share of challenges along the way to manage my time and balance both a rigorous workload and the demands of college classes. Let me share with you the three steps I used to successfully balance both a 3.9 GPA and win a primary election.1. Be a Master of Your TimeTo be a master of your time doesn't mean you have a crazy calendar and have everything preplanned and written down. It just means you effectively use the time you have to your advantage. In the middle of work and school, you have a lot of things flying at you at once -- like assignments, due dates, and personal life. It can seem very hectic at times, but don't panic. Instead, prioritize what you must get done first, then go from there. Often, people get overwhelmed with how much they have to do. Instead, you can focus on what needs to be done and do it effectively. The best thing I did was set a timer for myself. This did two things for me. It allowed me to dedicate a certain period of time to one particular project, then once the time was up, switch to the next item. It also pushed me to get the most work done in that time. I created a competition for myself. 2. Turn Off Your PhoneThis one should seem self-explanatory, but it needs to be said. I don't know how many times at work or during a school assignment I would take a “break” on my phone and it turn into a 30-minute Twitter scroll. Nothing is more distracting than seeing a notification, and not being able to answer it.Instead, just turn off your phone. I would say, “I'm not turning it back on ‘till I am done with this work project or school assignment.” You will be surprised how much time you will save and how much more work you will get done.3. Communicate with your boss and professors Probably the most used relationship advice phrase ever is, “communication is key.” This couldn't be any closer to the truth. Having a good relationship with your boss and professors is very important. You need to communicate with your boss often in order to establish that connection with them. A great way to establish that connection, is to prioritize their time. I'll give you an example. Let's say you have a school assignment due next week and you know it'll take a good chunk of your time to complete. Instead of telling your boss the week of, tell him, “Boss, I have a big school project coming up and it's going to take a lot of time. Is there anything I can do for you early, so I can have more time later in the week?” They love this, because it shows you care about their time and getting your work done. Likewise, the same goes for professors. They will appreciate you communicating with them, and you'll be surprised on how many professors will give you the homework early or give you an extended due date. Final Thoughts…Managing both a job and school is very tough; it is not for the faint hearted. You'll have to make many sacrifices to effectively get everything done. You have actively taken the first step in balancing your job and education. If you incorporate these small steps into your daily life, you will be well on your way to success.
Dealing with Stress in the Workplace | Lead Your Future Episode 5
Chris O'Neil
June 11, 2020
Dealing with Stress in the Workplace | Lead Your Future Episode 5
Do you ever struggle to stay focused? Does your to-do list ever look overwhelming? If so, you're far from alone. According to the American Psychological Association in 2017, more than 60% of Americans cite work as the highest source of stress in their lives.Stress can be a serious barrier to your progress in the workplace and life in general. Your health suffers, your productivity slips, and your happiness falls with everything else. Job stress is a set of harmful physical and psychological responses that can occur when the requirements of the job do not match your capabilities, resources, or needs. While it can manifest in many ways, the most common you'll recognize are inability to stay focused, inability to meet expectations, and money. It can often feel like a constant battle.But don't be discouraged! Your stress is not going to win. The Leadership Institute's Lead Your Future podcast addresses your stress in Episode 5.Here, you'll find three steps to reduce your stress.1. The Nose MethodDon't look further into the future than the end of your nose. Thinking about the future compounds stress, even if it's only 5 minutes in the future. “Taking the burden of the future and dumping it on today, makes today unnecessarily heavier.” “The future of our nation” is cited as the most common stressor in America today, according to the American Psychological Association.2. Replace ExpectationsOften, you and I can treat valuable ideals like being confident, relaxed, respected, or reciprocated as expectations. In cognitive behavioral therapy, they call this “shoulds” and “musts”. This phenomenon can be a serious source of stress, and when we expect them, we are not being fair to others or ourselves. Not only will you be happier, but also more likely to achieve them when you treat ideals in a much healthier way.3. AwarenessCognitive Clinician, Alicia Anderson, explains how being aware of your stressors is one of the most vital steps in solving them. There is even healthy, beneficial stress called eustress. Increasing your own self-awareness can help you make the most of it. The more self-aware you are, the more this enables you to get help when you really need it. Stress is corrosive. It damages your relationships, physical health, and even compromises your immune system and cognitive functions. Don't be discouraged though! With the right methods, you can overcome it.Listen to Episode 5 of the Lead Your Future Podcast to hear more about these tips from a cognitive behavioral expert. Click here to listen and follow the Lead Your Future Podcast on your favorite platform: Youtube, Acast, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Soundcloud, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, Facebook, and Twitter.
The Smallest Gestures Make the Biggest Impact – How Colleagues Pull Together
Ben Woodward
May 19, 2020
The Smallest Gestures Make the Biggest Impact – How Colleagues Pull Together
In years from now, when you think back to 2020 and your darkest periods in self-isolation, I'm willing to bet that your happiest memories will be the ones of individual people going out of their way for you.I have noticed people do incredible things in times of crisis - that is certainly true of my colleagues at Leadership Institute (LI). Here are my five favorite stories, and some touching takeaways.A new businessA colleague of mine, who happens to be one of the most talented cooks I know, launched his own bakery delivery service. He supplies bagels, English muffins, and bread to customers across much of Northern Virginia.If ever there were an example of making the best of a bad situation, this is it. Colleagues have shared his website on their social media and, of course, enjoyed their own purchases. Key Takeaway: Your colleagues have lives outside of work. They may play in bands, act, volunteer, and more. If you can support them by attending their events, sharing their content, and donating to their causes, please do! GraduationAnother colleague completed her Master's Degree in Communications -- years of hard work which she balanced with a full-time job at the Leadership Institute. Sadly, like so many students around the world, her graduation was canceled. Naturally, this wasn't going to fly with the staff at LI. One colleague took it upon herself to arrange a graduation celebration over Zoom. The colleague wore a graduation hat and ribbon, and celebrated with about 20 of her colleagues. Key Takeaway: Celebrate each other's successes. It might even give you an excuse for a staff party.Free t-shirtsAbout two weeks ago, I received a mysterious text from a colleague asking for my address so she could deliver a present. Wanting a present, I of course confirmed my address but after a few days, it slipped my mind. About a week later, a package arrived in the mail with a custom-made Leadership Institute Zoom University t-shirt inside. The t-shirt, given as a gift to colleagues who frequently present in webinars, is a perfect fit and you'll no doubt see it in a webinar very soon.Key Takeaway: Every organization should have a Chief Morale Officer. They are awesome, and company swag is a great idea. Sip and Chats On each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, several of my colleagues come together to drink coffee and eat breakfast. What initially started off as a replacement for ‘water cooler talk' has become a staple of our mornings, allowing colleagues to give updates on their lives and compare isolation weekend plans.Key Takeaway: Make sure you're keeping in regular contact with your colleagues, even if it's not about work. Having that interaction is an opportunity to bounce ideas around and it's also your chance to help others. A pick-me-upFinally, I couldn't write this blog without sharing my own story. A few weeks ago, a news announcement created uncertainty in my life. More information wasn't released for several days, but luckily the further information lifted the cloud.The worrying and the stress is behind me, but here's something I won't forget -- a large number of my colleagues, including senior executives, former interns, and friends collaborated to surprise me with a Zoom chat to remind me that I wasn't facing the uncertainty alone. It is my favorite memory of quarantine. Key Takeaway: Don't be afraid to reach out to your colleagues when you need them. Most of the time it'll be a work challenge, but you'll be surprised how much people care about you.
Do you know these work from home secrets?
Christopher Olson, Communications Training & Studios Intern
May 5, 2020
Do you know these work from home secrets?
Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say you are equally productive working from home as you were working in the office?If you're one of roughly 95% of Americans impacted by stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, odds are you've had to ask yourself this question.For some, the benefits are overwhelming. Eighty-five percent of businesses reported an increase in productivity since their staff began working from home. For others, working from home includes endless challenges that hinder your productivity.Working from home has turned me from an early riser who went to the gym before work, to someone who sleeps in and sits on the couch watching Netflix in my pajamas while trying to complete the workday.Luckily, on this episode of the Lead Your Future Podcast, Tiffany Roberts sat down with Leadership Institute's Director of Digital Training, Abigail Alger, to discuss some of her best advice for working from home.Here are three of her tips.Tip #1 -- Set a morning routine.Your morning routines are important. Most of us have a morning routine before a normal workday, but these routines tend to crumble when you work from home. Keeping your routines helps you to get started on work, and to work productivity. A routine is a way to get your mind in the right place, so you can perform the tasks required for your job to the best of your ability.Tip #2 -- Choose your workspace wisely.Set yourself up for success. Find a place or several places in your house where you are removed from distractions and can focus on work. This can be tough because, for many of us, our tendency is to sit on the couch and watch a show or movie while we try to work. We're at home, so we figure we might as well make ourselves comfy. If you notice you are struggling with productivity, think about changing your scenery and removing yourself from distractions.Tip #3 -- Maintain communication with work. Virtual meetings can take much longer than in-person meetings, and nobody likes long virtual meetings. To curb this, make sure you update your boss and supervisors by email to keep them in the loop. This is easy to forget because one of the benefits of working from home is not feeling like your boss is breathing down your neck. Keep your boss updated regularly, so you are still able to enjoy that freedom and not get tied down in virtual meetings.Don't wait! Listen to this new episode of the Lead Your Future Podcast and start working more effectively from home! Click here to listen and follow the Lead Your Future Podcast on your favorite platform: YouTube, Acast, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Sound Cloud, iHeartRadio, and Stitcher.
How to Succeed as an Intern
Christopher Olson, Communications Training & Studios Intern
May 5, 2020
How to Succeed as an Intern
If you're a young professional looking to enter the workforce, you probably know the importance of an internship all too well.You've probably been told multiple times the importance of an internship on your resume and the experience it brings. But has anyone ever given you the steps to make sure you are the best intern you can possibly be?Your internship is where you will make your first connections in that line of work. You don't want to just be good enough to put the internship on your resume, you want to have your supervisors so impressed that they can't wait to offer you a job, or help you find one elsewhere.Lucky for you, this week the Lead Your Future podcast gives you some tips and tricks on how to be a great intern. You'll hear from my fellow interns here at the Leadership Institute, so you can learn from their experiences.Here are three tips to succeed as an intern.Tip #1 – Be on time.This one is straightforward. Be on time. Do not be late. Try your best to be early, but if you can't be early, do not be late. Once your supervisor sees you come in late a few times, it's a trend, and they will start to assume you're unreliable. Supervisors understand interns are often young, but you want them to think of you as a young professional, not as a kid who's always late. So be on time.Tip #2 -- Don't treat it like a 9-5 job.Oftentimes putting in extra work requires getting in early and staying late. So, don't walk in at exactly nine o'clock and leave right at five. Stay late and come in early when needed. If nobody in your department needs extra help, then start volunteering your time to other departments. Whether it's a non-profit or for-profit, time is invaluable. Put in the extra time outside of the 9-5 hours, and it will go a long way.Tip #3 -- Discover what's inside your toolbox.Take the time while you're interning to navigate and discover your strengths and weaknesses. Your internship is the perfect time to identify your strengths and how to use them, while you work on your weaknesses. You may even discover that you hate the line of work you're doing or discover something you're passionate about.Listen to Episode 4 of the Lead Your Future Podcast to hear more about these tips and real intern experiences. Click here to listen and follow the Lead Your Future Podcast on your favorite platform: YouTube, Acast, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Sound Cloud, iHeartRadio, and Stitcher.
Easy Guide to Professional Webinars and Online Meetings
Ben Woodward
April 21, 2020
Easy Guide to Professional Webinars and Online Meetings
I was catching up on Saturday Night Live yesterday evening and the show depicted the struggles of comedians as they attempted to hold meetings from their homes with hilarious consequences. One only has to take to YouTube to enjoy a long list of videos where professionals make the most embarrassing possible mistakes because they fail to realize their web cameras are switched on. Luckily, no such embarrassing moments have happened in Leadership Institute (LI) meetings or webinars yet. For years, Zoom, Teams, and other platforms have been an excellent tool to reach audiences who cannot attend LI training in person. During the pandemic, webinars are now critical to deliver LI training. This requires professionalism and high standards translated digitally. Here's how you can ensure – whether you're hosting or presenting a meeting or webinar – you make it as professional as possible.LightingIf possible, you should face natural light on camera. Your entire face should be illuminated. Failing that, order a simple ring light online, they're inexpensive and make a big difference. Remember, just like in a real meeting, people will respond to seeing your face and your expressions.You should always avoid light that shines behind you, which can overshadow your face. SoundTo avoid feedback and other distractions, use headphones and limit outside noise. You should also do a test of your microphone before your presentation to ensure the sound works and your computer is set up correctly. SpeakingIt is a good idea to write a script for you webinar or meeting introduction and sign off. What do you want to say? Is there anything you should advertise or someone to introduce? Keep notes by your side in case you lose your place.Be confident in your presentation style. Practice speaking and record yourself to pick up on any filler words or lack of eye contact. Always try to maintain eye contact with your camera (aka your audience). You can also ask your audience questions during the webinar. It's a great way to keep them engaged. DisplayPower points or other types of illustrations can be very helpful to the viewer, who might otherwise get distracted if you're reading from notes. Make your presentation easy to follow. Most of the information should come from you. Your presentation should simply act as a guide to your key points. Make sure you dress appropriately and hide anything unprofessional in your background. Custom backgrounds are a helpful tool. OtherKeep water on hand during your webinar in case you get a dry throat, and make sure you use the bathroom. Even if someone else is speaking, you may not be able to walk away from your screen once you start. Email instructions to your attendees at least half an hour before your webinar. I also recommend you email them upon registration so they know what to expect. Finally, security is important. As the demands on Zoom and other platforms increase, prevent unwanted attendees with password protection and by disabling guest screen sharing.If you follow these simple steps, you'll conduct webinars and meetings that demonstrate your professionalism and ensure they are as close to the in-person experience as possible. If you would like any further assistance with your webinar and meeting needs, you can attend the Leadership Institute's free webinar: Effective Communications in Business on April 29, 2020.
Total: 240