Survival Skills Everyone Should Have

No matter who you are or what you do, there comes a time when you’ll find something you are passionate about, have a move you’ll want to make, or get your eureka moment when the timing is right to make something happen.  Every person is unique; and everyone has their own gifts and talents to share with the world.  So until your time comes, what do you do?

There’s a beauty in preparing for a rainy day or your window of opportunity.  You never know exactly what will come your way or when, but you’re  certainly in a better position to tackle anything if you start preparing today versus tomorrow.

As the proficiency and aptitude in a particular area, skills can be leveraged to propel you forward and to combat obstacles.  Some may be innate, but others are acquired through practice and in conjunction with additional knowledge and experience.  They enhance your performance, expertise and also your adaptability and mobility.  No matter where your destination will be, here are some skills that will facilitate your journey.

Finance & Accounting Skills.  We live in a numbers-driven world.  So everyone needs to understand numbers and how they work.  For example, if you’re a business owner and you want to increase your bottom-line, you should understand that you have the options of boosting your top-line or decreasing your expenses. You don’t have to be the one-man accounting department; but you need to understand numbers well enough to know what is happening with your business and about its performance.  Numbers not only lead to fancy spreadsheets but they display relationships that are explained by words; therefore it is important to understand how numbers drive other relationships.  Even when you have qualitative decisions to make, there may be implications that translate to numbers so be able to cut through the surface and understand the analytics and ratios and know what they’re telling you.

Money Management Skills. This goes beyond business and is personal.  Cash flow is glamorous, but it can disappear by nightfall if it isn’t handled appropriately.  How are you allocating the income you’re generating?  Are you living above what you can truthfully afford?  You may be saving, but are you saving enough?  Being consistent with tracking actual expenses, creating realistic budgets based on this and holding yourself accountable for staying within your means are  not learned overnight and take a lot of discipline.  In addition to managing your current financial situation, knowing ways to make your money grow and increasing your net worth are other challenges.  Once you understand the concepts, however, the application process can be mirrored whether it is from your personal life to business or vice versa.

Marketing Skills. If you’re in business, you’ll quickly learn that a good marketing plan can make or break your business.  Another secret that many don’t realize is that even for business, much of the impact comes down to personal branding and relationships.  At the end of the day, people do business with those they know, like an trust.  As an extension of this, a personal brand is essential in business, but it doesn’t end with business.  Know yourself, your strengths and what you do best.  Be able to market yourself when you need to.  Be consistent in your message and commit to your brand.   Learn how to tell a story and a great compelling one at that.

Communication Skills.  Some days you my have to write, others you may have to speak, and others you may have to present.  Be ready for each of these.  If preparation entails doing impromptu speaking to get better, joining organizations where you can practice, writing for yourself, or learning how to use PowerPoint, get started as soon as you can.  Communication is very important anywhere from our everyday interactions to the boardroom.  There may even be a time when all you have is 30 seconds for your elevator pitch.   Be ready.

Social/Networking Skills.  None of us can survive in a bubble – not in this world.  Knowing people, being able to interact and relate, sharing stories, networking, and knowing how to treat people well are all very important.  If you are in a client-serving role, it is important to be attentive, responsive  and understanding to your clients.  Being able to show that you are working with them and not just telling them what to do is also a key way to differentiate yourself.  As basic as it may seem, the Golden Rule always applies.

Do you struggle with any of these skills?  Do you excel at any of these?  What other skills have been vital to you in life and business?

Here’s Your Networking Guide for Spring and Summer

Do you notice the universal joy that emanates when spring arrives?  With the sun shining brightly and flowers blooming, everyone is eager to trade in the heavy winter coats for sunglasses and brightly colored outfits.  There is never a missed opportunity to sit at an outdoor cafe, sip on a refreshing drink or mingle.  And it only gets better with summer.

Spring and summer are great for networking because the atmosphere is welcoming and relaxed, people are already mixing and mingling, and having a follow-up lunch takes a lot less convincing when it isn’t 35 degrees outside.  So with happy people around, why miss the chance to strike up a conversation and make new connections?

Here are 5 things you need to do to maximize your spring and summer networking efforts:

Find out where the events are! These may be in your city, in a city you’re visiting or somewhere close enough for you to drive.  You can look these up by areas of interest, by organizations you’re interested in, or you can even be completely spontaneous if you’re really looking to expand your network beyond your usual comfort zone.  Check out your local Chamber of Commerce, sites like Meetup, or even host your own tweet up for your local buddies on Twitter!

Prioritize and create your networking schedule. Realistically, you can’t attend every event.  So evaluate the cost of your time versus the benefits.  If you’re a consultant who is looking obtain new clients in the technology space, your time may be better spent going to a startup networking event versus one targeting volleyball enthusiasts.  Figure out which events are a priority for you, make a list and schedule them in your calendar.

Revamp your business cards. Are the ones you have “so last season?”  Well, it may be time to get a fresh new design, a new logo or have a graphic artist help you redefine your brand.  Think of something upbeat that could be a conversation starter.  Maybe try orange or yellow as others will generally stay away from these colors.  Be bold in your approach so that you stand out from the crowd.

Prepare. Wherever you’re going in life, you want to arrive prepared.  If you’re looking to meet a particular person at an event, what will you speak with them about?  Did you read their latest book and would like some insight?  You may only have a few seconds to make that first impression so make sure you do your research ahead of time. If you’re at a social media networking event, are you familiar with the latest tools and applications so that you can keep up with the conversation?  Preparing doesn’t have to be exhaustive, because at the end of the day, making that connection comes down to being personable and relatable.  But preparing certainly helps you add value to any conversation,  showcases your knowledge, and gives you that competitive edge in a room full of people.

Bring Friends! Yes, this is an option.  If it will help you to see some familiar faces, invite some friends or colleagues who have similar interests.  There is one rule, though.  Whether it is to build your personal network or to identify opportunities for you business, it is important to remember why you’re attending these events.  With that said, make sure you’re making new connections and not spending your entire time conversing with people you can catch up any day of the week.

Do you have any other tactics that you use to maximize your spring and summer networking efforts?  We would love to hear!

Essential Holiday Job Searching Tips

When the holiday season comes around, it brings cheer, fun, smiles, joy and distractions!  So if you’re that job seeker who has been looking around for a while or if you’re new to the search, the temptations for you to veer off track will definitely surface between now and the end of the year.  But fight the urge, because it is important to remain steadfast.  Easier said than done.  But you’ll be grateful when the new year begins, and you have a fresh start due to a small sacrifice you made now.

You can do it.  You have the power to be in control!  You have the power to initiate change!  You have the power to enhance your current situation!

Once you believe that, here are some tips to help you following through:

Remain focused on your goal.  As the weather is cooling down and the festivities are underway, it is easy to get sidetracked and procrastinate.  But don’t let it happen!  Remember that situations and circumstances don’t automatically change your current situation if you aren’t actively involved.  So be proctive and stay after your pursuits!

Keep your spirits up. This isn’t an easy one.  Naturally, the holiday cheer may be foreign to you as you focus on your situation.  But it is all a matter of perspective.  And, the saying is true that someone may very well be in a more dire predicament than you.  So be thankful for what you have.  Life. Family. Health.  And don’t be afraid to reach out to your support system during this time.  The good news is that people are always willing to help!

Make holiday get-togethers work for you. There will be a lot of parties and events hosted by family, friends, neighbors, former coworkers, etc. to attend.  An excellent advantage is that many of these will be free and they will be attended by people from various circles.  So what’s in it for you?  Networking opportunities! Yes, great conversations are to be had over eggnog and cake!  So get out there and work the room!

Most jobs are not posted. This goes for online as well as newspapers and all other places you can think of.  As it turns out, less than 20% of jobs are advertised!  So where are they?!  These days companies are using other means to make the process work for them.  They are relying on the networks of their employees for referrals in addition to other focused networks around the community; ultimately, this means less time and money spent for them to sort through applications.  With that said, you have to be out and about mingling, speaking to colleagues, and tapping into these networks so that you are referred!

Know thyself. Simply put but this goes a long way.  Can you readily explain what makes you better than job applicant number 3487 or 4727?  Know your resume like you know the back of your hand.  Be ready to discuss it from a chronological perspective in addition to a functional.  What are your strengths?  How would hiring you benefit the company?  What quantifiable contributions have you made that are indicative of your potential and capabilities?  Can you perform and deliver?  In addition to solidifying this base, what out-of-the-box approach can you incorporate to communicate your value to your potential employer?  Don’t forget that everyone is trying to tell their story and you don’t want your application to be another one in the pile!  So in the spirit of setting yourself apart, force yourself to have the most convincingly communicated story!

Follow up! Do what you can to remain at the forefront of your potential employer’s memory.  Remember that following up is a nice gesture all around so also reach out to individuals you meet so that you can start building a relationship and add them to your network.  A holiday card adds a nice touch and makes the communication timely and relevant.  Don’t forget to be tactful.  One email is a nice gesture, but six voice mails may be excessive.

Participate in other activities. As time-consuming as your search may be, it is important to do other things also.  For instance, at a time when you may think you’re the one who needs the most help, step outside of your situation and maintain your big picture perspective.   Others may need your help!  Think about volunteering or being a mentor.  Not only can strategic activities help you reduce gaps in your resume, but they may also lead to other opportunities.  You never know who you may encounter or who could be watching from afar and admiring your efforts.  Lastly, these activities may be invigorating and provide positivity just when you need it!

Get organized, go forth and conquer! Armed with this advice, get your game plan together.  Figure out how you want to allocate your time to these different activities.  Brush up your resume and make sure you are familiar with everything on it.  Rehearse your pitch until it feels natural.  Go forth, be aggressive and conquer!  All the while, don’t forget to smile!  After all, it is the holidays!

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