Category Archives: Networking

Chili Cook Off and Networking

Senator Alan Hays and Baby Mo
Senator Alan Hays and Baby Mo

Research is clear, when it comes to professional progression, networking is the key. Over the past weekend, I happened to be in the middle of a well-kept networking secret: can you say Chili Cook Off?

Participants and cookers mingled for hours at one of the most relaxed environments thought possible. Though our team were part of the cookers, Tropical Air of Central Florida and Baby Mo’s Chili, connections made were priceless. For those lacking networking expertise, a Chili Cook Off offers an ideal stage to rehearse and expand those in your circle while becoming comfortable and confident around others.

With chili in hand, striking up a conversation never has been easier. I hear you, the topic of employment rarely comes up while dipping chili, but establishing networks can be as natural as fiber and peanut butter.

For tasters, simply venture table to table, complimenting along the way while learning about the companies behind the chili. To what seem as a surprise for many (not to me), I noticed over 20 local and regional businesses behind the chili. Some would call this an opportunity as one taster approaches:

Taster: “Baby Mo’s Chili? Where’s the chef?”
Server: “The young one with the gloves. She’s the master behind the chili.”
Taster: “Awesome chili. She got it right and I’ll be voting for you!”
Server: “Thanks, do appreciate it. Not only do we make great chili, we take care of air conditioning and heating needs throughout Central Florida.”
Taster: “I like the logo and no doubt keeping people cool in Florida is always a challenge. Are you a technician?”
Server: “Actually I own the company.”
Taster: “I like how Tropical Air of Central Florida is taking part in the community and would love to be part of a company like this.”
Server: “We enjoy keeping people cool and serving chili. What are you looking to do?”
Taster: “I’ve worked as an office administrator over the past two years. Now going to Seminole State. I really want to work with a small company, learning all I can and growing with the company.”
Server: “We’re always looking for positive people, grab my card and give me a call in a few days. We may be hiring part time office help next month.”
Taster: “Definitely will give you a call. And I really mean it, this chili rocks.”
Server: “Don’t forget to vote, last year we were two votes shy of placing.”

Networking can happen anywhere… the only limitations to networking are the limits YOU place on it. 

One never knows who will be walking around as well. During chili cook offs, special judges are often called in to assist, another networking advantage. During the “Apopka Old Florida Outdoor Festival Chili Cook-Off,” one of the judges happened to be Senator Alan Hays. For those interested in politics, business, and community opportunities, this was your chance to connect.

Not just for the votes, but I encourage you to attend the Orlando Chili Cook-Off March 7th. Baby Mo will be cooking the chili and I’ll be serving… hope to see you taking advantage of this networking opportunity.

Seeking awesome chili, employment, promotion, or career transitioning support, self-help job development books and resources, including material designed for those transitioning out of prison, visit www.edu-cs.com or www.CareerBreakOut.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com 321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

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Career Advantage Spotlight: LinkedIn

DSC_0010There are many ways to display your life to the world. You can showcase your talents on YouTube, every random thoughts on Twitter, and those entertaining social engagements and life progressions on Facebook. But there is one digital space where you can make professional connections that can positively impact your career, and that’s LinkedIn.

A few things make LinkedIn different than the others. The most obvious is, of course, the professional platform it offers. While on Facebook you can put people into categories and say that you know them from school or church or that park up the street, LinkedIn’s main priority is your professional relationship with your contacts.

Not interested in what you ate for dinner or who you partied with over the weekend, LinkedIn concentrates attention to your professional side by incorporating interactive tools which can be used for your advantage. Through the use of recommendations, your electronic tattoo is bolstered by those who have worked with you. Along those lines, you are able to endorse each other in professional accomplishments and skills.

This revolutionary site has been around for a while, and if you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, you are missing out. Current hiring trends are clear: most potential employers research your digital presence before scheduling interviews. For those with a strong electronic presence, this is a perfect way to back up your resume and get ahead of the competition.

Don’t lose your edge – use it. Update your profile often, and build your network wisely. Make sure to endorse other people for their skills; they’ll be more likely to endorse you for yours. If you think you don’t know where to start, think again.

Here’s an easy tip to get started: Pick any job you’ve ever had. Think of someone you worked with that you respected, and search for them. Once found, send a formal request to connect. When selecting digital professional networks, don’t sell yourself short.

As for your online profile, broadcast anything that would be valuable for an employer. You never know what can happen. Remember to keep it professional… always. While on this note, never get involved with controversial topics, including religion, politics, etc.

Interested in developing proven career success techniques or in securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support. You may also contact us directly: dhuffman@edu-cs.com to see how we can help you.

Rikki Payne, Career Consultant, Editor, and Writer
Education Career Services, www.edu-cs.com
Follow us on Twitter #dannyatecs Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com

Friend of a Friend

DSC_0130So you are on the hunt for a job and you have all the basics to land an interview, but you aren’t getting many responses.  Submitting resumes and applying on large job sites can be discouraging and make you feel like you are falling into the cracks of a very large database.  After scratching your head, you begin brainstorming as to what else you can do to have that extra push to land an interview.  The answer is simple: ask for job referrals.

Common sense and statistics make one thing clear: companies are hiring based on employee referrals and will typically give a person with a referral more of a chance to land an interview.  According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, applicants are twice as likely to get interviews and 40 percent more likely to get hired if they have a referral.  But how do you get these great referrals?

Career Success Tip of the Day:  Networking is the way to go.

Social Media

Social media is at an all-time high and if you want to land a dream job, networking is a crucial building block to obtain referrals.  Sites such as LinkedIn, CareerCloud, and even Facebook and Twitter can be effective ways to network and gain contacts.  The best thing about social media networking is that you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to find your way into the company.

In Person Networking

There is no better way to network than in person.  People remember faces and have a harder time saying no when they are face to face.  It can be as simple as running into a former coworker at the grocery store or making a new connection while watching your son’s football game.  The secret to in person networking is to be sociable.  Truth is, people refer people that they like.

Then What?

So you used your resources and found out that you have connections into companies you would like to work for.  How do you ask?  Well, unless it is someone who knows you well, it is best to ask if they feel they know your work enough to refer you.  If they don’t, but still would like to refer you, give them a copy of your resume.  That way they are knowledgeable of your qualifications and work experience.  They can then provide you with a referral letter or a contact within the company’s Human Resource department.

Just Remember…

More and more companies actively take advantage of referral programs. Employees are also taking advantage of referral program rewards and would be enthused to meet a “great match” for the position.

When searching for your dream career, take advantage of all the resources out there to assist with obtaining a referral and make sure you act professionally in public.  You never know, the person waiting in the checkout line next to you could be your next business contact.

Looking forward to our next career meeting, I am.

Mari Brooks
Your CC Connection

Company Christmas Party: Go or No?

Now is the time of year for company Christmas parties. Whether you’re the kind of person to look forward to wearing funny red hats or if you are the type to avoid company gatherings like the plague, holiday jamborees mean a great deal more than eggnog. Truth is, what happens during holiday events could enhance your professional standing (or, on the other hand, not attending may leave a bad taste amongst your peers and supervisors by sending the wrong kind of message).

Tropical Air Gathering, 2013
Tropical Air Gathering, 2013

Dusting off holiday humbugs and attending Christmas parties and networking events would be beneficial to you personally and, most undoubtedly, professionally. Upon holiday event invitations, consider the following when making your decision as to “go or no.”

Networking

The Networking advantages during company Christmas parties should be enough to kick out uncertainty. Christmas parties are a priceless opportunity to network with individuals in your company that you may not work with on a daily basis. Maybe they are in the department that you wish to join, maybe they have the position you want, or maybe they’re even in charge of that department or position. This is your chance to build professional relationships outside of a normal work day, and most importantly, to let peers and supervisors get to know why you are a great employee looking for growth.

Added bonus: Taking advantage of Holiday Company networking by making a positive impression they won’t forget is your career advantage during promotions or transfer opportunities.

Camaraderie

This is another valuable aspect of these gatherings. While not everyone feels precisely the same way about the holidays, this is nevertheless a personable opportunity to showcase festivity and company buy-in. Building professional identity and company unity by taking take part in activities that are not necessarily work-related has been proven to enhance the working environment while also increasing output. Company owners and supervisors alike recognize the importance of camaraderie and the effects of a positive working atmosphere.

During the holiday party, it is not recommended to hang around the circle of peers  you hang out with outside of work all the time… this is the time to discover and expand your depth of professional relationships.

Camaraderie clue: Keep conversations positive and casual, benefiting not only you and your coworkers, but your company as a whole.

Self-Confidence

However you may feel about yourself now, there is so much to be said for stepping out of your comfort zone and into uncharted territories, especially in your place of work. Getting to know new people is often a psychological hurdle. However, it is one with rewards much greater than the risks. This is most true when it involves those that have the potential of advancing your career. If you can learn to work the room and mingle an appropriate amount, letting people view that winning side of you, you will see positive results.

Or you can politely decline and not attend the company Christmas party. By doing so, what messages are you sending? Here’s a clue or two: you are not a team player, you are more important than other employees, you don’t care about the company, your job, or the people around you.

Problem is Perception: Looking through the eyes of supervisor(s), co-workers, and owners, NOT attending provides a negative perception. When it comes to career success, nothing tops more than how one is viewed… professionally AND personally.

There are many reasons to attend your company Christmas party. You can walk away with new contacts, a renewed vision of your career, and possibly new goals as well. You may have even made an unlikely friend and gained a funny (hopefully harmless) story to tell later on. Whatever you do, don’t pass up this opportunity. Work hard to make the most of each opportunity and do not compromise your career by ignoring the rippling effects holiday parties produce. You’ll thank yourself later. And, of course, most importantly, have one very Merry Christmas!

Interested in developing proven career success techniques or in securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support. You may also contact us directly: dhuffman@edu-cs.com to see how we can help you.

Rikki Payne, Career Consultant, Editor, and Writer
Education Career Services, www.edu-cs.com
Follow us on Twitter #dannyatecs
Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Holiday Career Advantage: E & E

Knits by Elaine
Knits by Elaine

Sure you have a lot on your plate. It’s the holidays. All of the excitement in the air is balanced by the work you are doing. You’re preparing for family, and that alone takes be physical, mental, and emotional effort. There’s so much to be done… cooking, cleaning, shopping, rearranging, scheduling, decorating, and the works.

Here’s a plan: Instead of feeling overwhelmed by chores and chaos, get some Experience and Exposure with a seasonal job. Students, entry-level candidates, and experienced professionals, if you’re unemployed and looking for that perfect career, don’t pass up an opportunity to make some extra money and add to your resume. Money aside, there are benefits to working a holiday job that strongly outweigh the work. And these will exist at whichever job you find.

E&E
Experience and Exposure are the two things you should be looking for; not only in seasonal jobs but in every step you take toward your career progression. Gaining hard skills (experience) that can be utilized anywhere from your home to your job should be a constant goal regardless of what path you are pursuing. In addition to experience, exposure should be a constant goal. Maximizing exposure gets your smiling face out there while enhancing hard and soft skills for the world to see. Throw in professional networking and the world may soon be your oyster.                                                                                   

Discounts
Maybe your favorite store needs a temporary cashier or stock person for this busy season. This way, not only will you be somewhere that you enjoy, but you’ll get discounts for being there! Managers jump to hire people who have a passion for where they work and are willing to share that passion with customers. To secure discounts while securing cash and fun is a winner for all participants.

Magic
This time of year is magical for so many people. Wherever you decide to find a holiday job, be it at a store or a theme part or Christmas tree tent, you will share a part in someone’s holiday spirit. You’ll see families looking for perfect gifts or events, and you’ll see children who see magic in the air. Being a part of the moment could renew your spirit this year and stay with you for a lifetime… joining this bandwagon brings more than a hayride.

Take advantage of the holidays and become active… sitting around sipping eggnog may be nice, but there’s so much more… all you have to do is try. It’s never too late to live this holiday season to the fullest.

Interested in developing proven career success techniques or in securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support. You may also contact us directly: dhuffman@edu-cs.com to see how we can help you.

Rikki Payne, Career Consultant, Editor, and Writer
Education Career Services, www.edu-cs.com
Follow us on Twitter #dannyatecs
Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

LinkedIn: Are your students In or Out?

Office Back Area
Office Back Area

Registering and being an active part of the social digital media networking culture is to communicate with your connections. Otherwise, social media won’t have much of a point for you in the career networking world. Being active (or IN) is career critical when it comes to your LinkedIn profile. Being invisible (or OUT) automatically places you at a disadvantage as LinkedIn remains the #1 networking platform for professional networking.

If you are in the “out” group, take a few moments and reflect on the following tips to get you back on the track. For those within the “in” group, don’t skip a beat as new information could be as simple as tip #8.

1. Post regular updates
Be an active member of your networking community. To be part is to be part… in other words, don’t pretend to be active if you post once a month. When in doubt, a good rule of thumb to abide by is one post each day or two. Then again, don’t post just to post… make what you have to say industry specific and a benefit for your readers.

2. Visit your connections’ profiles.
Make an effort to visit your contacts’ profiles without relying on the “Anonymous LinkedIn User” feature so they can see your actual interest in them. Think about it, if someone was checking you out, wouldn’t you want to know who is interested? I thought so.

3. Utilize LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations.
Thoughtful recommendations will always trump a simple click of the mouse for an online endorsement.  Yet, Endorsements have a greater purpose than simply showing a contact you like their skills and expertise. At their basic root, they are another positive way to keep in contact with your connections, developing a sense of identity for all parties involved.

4. “Like” your contacts’ posts.
This is simple online etiquette, but don’t feel you have to go crazy about “liking” every single post you see from every single connection. Merely “liking” posts and status updates can get lazy too so don’t fall into a complacent consciousness.  Show your contacts you’re an expressive, thoughtful member of the LinkedIn community be leaving comments when you can to promote discussion.

5. Participate in regular discussions and comments.
Highlight in your unique (and relevant) “two cents” worth on any given contact’s discussion, or, better yet, initiate a conversation with a contact. This avenue can be a wonderful way to share ideas with established connections and potential connections.

6. Make time to read and comment on any connections’ blogs.
This is an effective way of creating synergy in the blogging community. Put in another way, if you were to post on a blog and get absolutely no readers, no comments, and no reactions, how would that affect your psychological state? Or, in the other situation, you notice a solid readership and dynamic discussions/comments, motivation becomes mountainous.

7. Further communicate through email use.
It doesn’t take a lot of time to send a contact a more personable private email but it could mean a great deal to the recipient. No longer is either party invisible… oh what a great feeling with potentially powerful results.

8. Congratulate your contacts on special occasions.
Go the extra mile and reach out to your connections when you see they hit a work-related anniversary, start a new job, or even just for celebrating a birthday. A little extra care goes a long way to keeping your contacts close and interested in your interests.

9. When convenient, meet in person.
The final step and goal of all this communication is to meet phone-to-phone or face-to-face. If your connection lives in a distant location, you may suggest getting together when you’ll be in their city or town. Plan to meet in a relaxed, social atmosphere such as a coffee shop, nice restaurant, or a personal networking event if your connection lives close by. Remember LinkedIn is not a hook-up site so keep all correspondence professional, courteous, and respectful.

LinkedIn: Are you in or out? Enough of the distractions, get out there and start communicating. Happy connections lead to happy careers!

Interested in securing cutting-edge career focused books, including how to write effective resume/cover letters, maximizing digital networking, and interview best practice approaches, visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available products and support.

If you have specific questions or career-related issues you would like responded to by our certified professional career coaches and writers, contact our staff directly: dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com.

Article penned by Bret Hoveskeland
Writer/Editor with Education Career Services
Follow us on Twitter #dannyatecs
Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Nope to Networking: Think Again

Let’s face it.  We’ve all been there.  We’ve all felt the same way.  At some point in our lives, be it recent or from a time that seems like another life we once called our own, we have all had to face the prospect of career networking.

DSC_0028Career networking defined: For those unfamiliar with the concept of career networking, that’s the magical life event that throws us all together into one huge mad stew of etiquette and self-promotion skills.  That intoxicating concoction created from the dual ingredients of a job or better career path and the basic human desire to want to help other people.

We’ve all had to face it.  But, what’s more, we’ve had to face the deeper unnerving truth underneath it.

Networking reality: Most of us don’t like to network.

Sure, some of us might have changed perspective about that by now, but the fact of the matter is:  networking and thoughts of it make most people uncomfortable, for many reasons.

If your motto is “Nope to Networking,” think again as you consider a few reasons why many fall prey to fear as well as a counter as to why fear should NOT conquer:

  1. I don’t want to be a bother.”
    This is perhaps the silliest reason of them all.  Especially when you stop to consider who you are bothering.  Everybody already has a network, whether they think they do or not.  Everyone you know is in your network, and everyone who knows who you know.  And… er, well, you get the point.  Since this is true, this also means your current friends are already part of your network.  And your friends, if they are your friends, would want to help you in a time of need.  They’d think the same is true if you’re a real friend to them.  You would want a mutual win-win.What you also have to consider is the simple fact that people generally like to talk about themselves and be praised.  Asking them for networking help and advice is an opportunity for them to do both at the same time.
  2. People in my network have no useful information about my desired field.”
    A relevant personal note on this that also ties into my first point above:  I wouldn’t have the job with Education Career Services I have right this minute if it wasn’t for that “friend network” mentioned above.  And there are job perks I’m enjoying at the moment that perhaps wouldn’t have crossed my path if not for the friends I’ve made in my network.  This particular friend, in the teaching field and also networking for a career job herself, happened to be perusing Craigslist one day.Though the “Writing/Editing” tab within Craigslist’s job board was not in her particular field, my friend clicked on it, searched within the confines of Orlando’s writing/editing jobs, and scrolled along searching.  After she clicked on one job in particular looking for a writer, she later told me she immediately thought of me after reading the description and requirements.  See that?

    It really is that easy.  Any close friend could be looking for his or her own self and in their search, due to our wonderfully altruistic human nature, could end up getting you a great job first.

  3. My personality isn’t right for networking.”
    You may be right.  Especially if, like myself, you consider yourself an introvert.  Research suggests that extroverted people are much likelier to utilize networking in general, and be more open to its possibilities.  On the flip side of that, however, is that sometimes extroverts also have a tendency to give the impression of not entirely caring what people have to say, but are more interested in hearing themselves talk.  Again… I say some extroverts.  That’s why a noble goal here is to shoot to be an ambivert.  Check out: Introvert or extravert? Maybe you’re an ambivert.While some researchers debunk this whole “ambivert” concept, I think it’s an idea worth giving some thought.  Be yourself but try to pay close attention to your specific networking situations.  A pinch of diplomacy and the ability to realize when it’s the right time to speak up, shut up, and not give up — while making use of the strengths tied to both introversion and extroversion, can only help your cause.

Besides, the magic happens outside of that comfort zone we like to live in, as we know all too well but sometimes tend to forget.

We’ll continue offering professional insight and review career marketing strategies so continue checking for the next submission. With this in mind, if you have career questions and would like a team of professionally certified writers and coaches input, don’t hesitate to ask.

For those interested in securing cutting-edge career focused books, including how to write effective resume/cover letters. Visit “Danny at ECS” on Amazon or go to www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available products and support. You may also contact our staff directly: dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how we can help you.

Penned by Bret Hoveskeland
Education Career Services
Blogsite: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

This article references information found in http://thingscareerrelated.com/2013/03/31/why-we-hate-networking-for-jobs-confessions-of-a-networking-convert/ by Rebecca Fraser-Thill.