As a big sister, I’ve had the privilege of mentoring my 10-years-younger little brother as he went through high school, college, several internships with my company, and eventually joined my company. He is now on a full-ride scholarship in grad school at Notre Dame. I couldn’t be prouder.
I’ve also worked with a number of younger professionals throughout my career, and I remember keenly being one of those young professionals—as a journalist, I was usually the youngest person in my newsroom (by far). There was so much I didn’t know, and wasn’t taught to me in college, about how to succeed in the business world.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the advice that I, at 35, would give to my 25-year-old self or other young professionals in their first few years of post-college employment. I don’t always follow this advice, but the results are infinitely better when I do. Here are 25 tips for success for young professionals under age 25:
- Take initiative. This is the most important thing you can do in any job, in any role—in life. Don’t wait for permission or a request, just see a need and propose a solution…better yet, start working on the solution!
- Dress for success. Senior professionals want to see you as an up-and-coming professional, not stuck in your college gear (and they’ll assume, your college mindset). Invest in a wardrobe that mirrors the executives (and by shopping sale racks and seconds stores like Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx, you can do this on your current salary). Don’t imagine “casual Friday” equals jeans and sneakers—choose better-than-casual shoes, slacks and a casual jacket to demonstrate your professionalism.
- Be polished. A dry cleaner and tailor will help—and don’t wear anything that is revealing, too tight/ill-fitting, or dirty/stained/torn. Iron your shirts, shine your shoes, file and polish your nails, get a good haircut. Carry a high-quality bag. Each small detail adds up. Look like the kind of person an executive would be proud to introduce to a client.
- Be polite. Manners count in business lunches, in thank-you notes and in small interactions. Read a book on modern manners—seriously! When flustered, keep your cool and be nicer than necessary.
- Polish your communications. Send emails that are properly capitalized, spelled and signed. (Don’t lower-case your name or the letter i—this reads a juvenile chat-room behavior.) Double-check documents and communications before sending—a small grammatical error or typo will make you look less smart than you really are, especially if you know better. Continue reading
Hello, we’re talking about saying ‘No’ at work and how to finesse this with respect to work styles. I’m using Market Force styles—Control, Influence, Power and Authority—to illustrate how handing a deluge of projects and requests at work by saying no can challenge each work style.
In my last post, I listed these two lessons:
Lesson one for Controls: Balance time discussing what you’re working on with a healthy debate on why. This is because Controls often handle being overwhelmed by becoming micro-managers.
Lesson two for Influences: People are more important than projects. Influences will be sure they know it, but must be sensitive to people with other styles who might feel like they’re wasting time in meetings. They must also avoid over-promising (a habit because they value relationships).
And now here are the rest.
Lesson three: It’s not about time, it’s about value: validate your projects and contributors.
For those with the Power work style, busybusybusy is kind of a drug. When they say, “Oh, I have a million things on my plate right now! I’m working 60-plus hour weeks and still have more to do,” they’re not complaining. They’re bragging. The subtext is “Look how important and indispensible I am!” Continue reading
In today’s Harvard Business Review blog, Tony Schwartz has a great post about “No is the new Yes: Four practices to reprioritize your life.” In it, he describes a typical executive workday filled with meetings, email and hair-on-fire requests that keep their wheels spinning endlessly.
The tyranny of the urgent over the important seems like an unchangeable force, as if we are constantly running on a hamster wheel. But doing so will leave us tired—or fired—unless we can find a way to hop off the wheel.
I observe that for some executives, the hamster wheel bleeds into relationships with colleagues and subordinates: they never seem to be present for the people they are leading. That’s why I wanted to offer five lessons I’ve learned about managing time, work, people and priorities that embraces Schwartz’s fundamental argument about saying no more often … but does so with finesse based on the styles of people you’re working with.
You might be familiar with a work style framework from DiSC, Meyers-Briggs, Kolbe, or others—my personal favorite is Market Force, taught by the folks at aPriori International. I’ll explain each type of style and their blind spots related to saying no.
Lesson one: Balance time discussing what you’re working on with a healthy debate on why. Continue reading
Hi. In fifteen minutes today I wanted to share another negotiation technique that I find is very important when buying from someone who is emotionally invested in what they sell.
Nowhere is this more apparent than at antiques shows. Let me tell you a story…
I have to admit that I hated, really hated antiques as a kid. I didn’t have anything against the objects themselves, but I loathed getting dragged to flea markets, antiques stores and garage sales to find the diamonds in the rough.
My sister and I used to moan, “Oh, no! Not another garage sale!” We still tease my mom about it. (But go see my parents’ home and you’ll have a complete attitude adjustment about antiques. They truly do not make furniture today like they did 100 years ago.)
About ten years ago, my mom got me out of the antique-hater phase by giving me Continue reading
Hello! I’ve been blogging about negotiation techniques lately because I realized there are a whole slew of them that I’ve learned from years of driving a hard bargain (or, as I like to think of it, getting the most for my money).
Yesterday, I described how a Mexican jewelry seller was using his considerable acting skills to convince me to buy (and pay more than I was willing) for a necklace pendant.
I want to describe that scene to you again, but in another context (a different negotiating tip this time): Put your cash on the table.
“Wait, I want you to have this,” he said, dangling the pendant (he was ready for my exit). “Come back in! Let’s try to make a deal. Couldn’t you pay $25?”
“No, I’m sorry, I just have the $20.” I said. As if to prove my point, I pulled a $20 out of my purse. Cash, US bill. I put it on the counter. “I can only pay this much.” Continue reading
A few years ago, I supervised a $60,000 kitchen remodel (including sourcing all the materials myself), and you’d better believe my research and negotiation skills were used every day of that three-month process.
One thing I learned from haggling over sinks and light fixtures was that there is no forced sale. No matter what you offer to pay—no matter how low your low-ball offer—no one is forcing the merchant or service provider to make the sale.
A good businessperson will be smart enough to know their costs and markup, to know what inventory they need to move and what’s hot enough to stay at full price. If you ask for a discount on a just-in appliance, they probably won’t give it to you. But if you ask for a deep discount on that dishwasher that’s been hanging around the showroom collecting dust…well, they just might give it to you for the sake of out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new.
In Mexico, I haggled with a shopkeeper for a fairly inexpensive silver and fused glass necklace pendant, and I offered a price significantly lower than what was posted in the store. Part of my reasoning was Continue reading
I’m talking about negotiation this week and I have another fifteen minutes to spend writing about some of the key guidelines I’ve learned over years of negotiating.
I grew up in a very frugal family, watching my mom haggle at garage sales for most of our “new” clothes, toys and furniture. She liked good, high-quality stuff (real wood furniture, cashmere sweaters) but there’s no way she would (or could, at that time) pay full price.
One thing I watched her do consistently was avoid making the first offer. I call this rule of negotiation “The person who makes the first offer always loses.”
Follow me to a garage sale and I’ll show you how. Continue reading
Hi there. I’m back to blogging after a very nice holiday break. How was yours?
Today, I wanted to share fifteen minutes with you about negotiation.
I love to negotiate. I bring my game face and as much research as possible. Haggling doesn’t fluster me, and I can easily walk away. When I travel internationally to places where debating a price is commonplace, I’m in my element. When I buy big-ticket items in the US, I consider the price tag merely a suggestion.
I used to say there were two key rules to negotiation, and I coached several friends through salary negotiations based on these two rules. But as I sat down to write this blog, I realized there were actually many more. In the next fifteen minutes, I’ll give you the first one. Continue reading
Hi! Here’s one more blog post on networking, and how you can make the most out of your professional connections.
There’s a lot to say on this subject, so I’ve broken it down into short, fifteen-minute blog posts. That’s my plan in this space: a short snippet, a single idea that motivates you. This blog is about work, purpose and time, and I hope it lights a fire under you to start making more connections and finding greater purpose and accomplishment at work.
So, networking. Lots of people tell you about how to do it, but few focus on the most critical part: following up.
That’s where some of the best introductions fall apart, because the high you might have been feeling about meeting a great potential business service provider or client becomes a low driven by false promises. Continue reading
Hi. I’m back to talk networking again, with the help of two experts I interviewed for a magazine article about this topic.
What’s your networking style? Do you tend to work the room methodically, or bounce around? Do you seek out people you know, or intentionally meet people you don’t know?
I tend to do the latter, introducing myself with a simple, “Hi, I’m Heidi, and I don’t think we’ve met before.”
I view networking as an essential aspect of my job, and I wear event nametags with pride. As a reporter for The Business Journal of Portland, I needed to know the who’s who of Portland-area real estate and development professionals.
As marketing and research director for Colliers International’s Portland office (the first of four roles I’ve held), I served on several professional association committees (including one that hosted “grip & grin” political events) and I was constantly looking for opportunities to build more bridges.
I recognize that networking is not easy. Continue reading