Winning the Bias Game after a Personal Leave

In the game of basketball, fans typically have preconceived notions about short players, despite the fact that 5’9” Isaiah Thomas of the Denver Nuggets delivers the goods game after game.  Although Thomas is proof that short players perform at a high level, the bias against players of small stature persists. In the working world, biases exist too.  People who take a leave from work — whether due to having a baby, caring for an ill or elderly relative, sick child, or another reason — face several preconceived notions, and an uphill battle for respect, prize projects, and promotions once they return to work. If you’ve taken a leave, it’s important to be aware of these misconceptions and work actively to counteract them to raise your personal brand at work. Let’s look at five impressions that employers have of those who take a personal leave, and what you can do during and after your leave to counteract them. 1. Impression: You won’t be as interested in the job or organization. … [Read more...]

Journal Your Way Up the Career Ladder

Think back to when you were a young teen, complete with braces and pimples. Negotiating the tough school hallways and interactions with peers, you needed a safe place to process all of the social challenges coming your way and share your hopes for the future. So you started a diary, furtively writing daily and keeping it hidden away from your family and friends. And over time, in writing down your thoughts and reading over what you wrote, your teenage world became just a little bit clearer and less scary. Well, now you’re all grown up (and hopefully the braces and pimples are long behind you!)  You can still use a diary — now called a journal —for your career, and reap the career benefits as you once did the same for your adolescent social scene. How can journaling help your career? It enables you to leverage your musings over time to gain perspective and spark new ideas. Read on to learn about when, how, and why to journal. When You Should Journal During a Job Search. … [Read more...]

Get Prepared to Network: Meet, Greet, Repeat

1 - Prepare to listen: It starts with being fully present. Tune everything and everyone else OUT — pay attention only to the person right in front of you. Periodically ask questions — don’t be a bobble head just nodding. Good conversation is two-way. 2 - Handshake: In our country, the acceptable greeting starts with a firm handshake. Women – show your confidence and presence by initiating the handshake. Here’s how: Move toward a person, arm outstretched, smile on your face and say “I’m happy to meet you. I’m Valerie Sokolosky. And you?” You’re off and running. 3 - Conversation: After the initial name exchange, move to a question. Here’s one suggestion — ask a question about their name. “Eric…there are lots of ways you can spell it…how do you spell yours? “Oh, that’s an unusual name. Were you named for someone? “What else do they call you?” “Kathryn…do you prefer Kathryn or Kathy?” Names give you an easy way to get into a conversation! 4 - Remembering … [Read more...]

Is Your Network Napping?

“Networking is not about collecting contacts. It’s about planting relationships.” ~ Simply put – relationships matter. When you have ‘related’ to a client by giving your best, you’ll be remembered. Just minutes ago, I was indeed remembered. The caller said, “Valerie, you’ve been referred by xxxx.” It turns out xxxx is a client from 10 years ago. That referral came from my sincere desire to stay in touch (digitally on this one) with those people I call “brand ambassadors” — those clients who know me and value our relationship. What matters is that you care enough to connect. Whether by phone, email or through social media, the point is to reach out — or there is no connection. Now the HOW! 3 Tips for Engaging Your Network 1 – KNOW WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO THEM Maybe it's a hobby. Maybe it's a passion, sport, or talent. When you know what someone likes or enjoys – it’s easier to send messages. Example: If a client is an avid reader, send interesting articles. Keep a … [Read more...]

YOU are the Brand

It’s curious to me why some service professionals don’t realize that their behavior can make or break the reputation of their company’s brand. Driving on vacation recently, we had two interesting customer service experiences - one great and one not so great! Let’s start with greatness! Our habitual morning “must do” on the road is to hit our favorite coffee spot – Starbucks. There it was – with its welcoming green logo. We all went in for a fast breakfast, greeted by the manager who was all smiles - just like in this picture. As she handed us our breakfast, her smile waned for a moment - only long enough to apologize for dropping one sandwich. Immediately she said, “I’ve given you two for the price of one and I'm sorry for making you wait.” Now that’s a nice gesture by itself! Then she really topped it off with a surprise gift of her apron. I had simply thanked her for great customer service and told her that in my Personal Branding workshops I use Starbucks as an … [Read more...]