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Grad Student Advice Series: How To Network and Add Value To Yourself and Others

Part 1: The Dire Need to Network While In Grad School or Academia

It’s Not What You Know It’s Who You Know That Matters

Why is networking so important? Well, the short answer is that it all depends on what your objectives are. For example, some people network to expand one’s resources, learn about potential opportunities and collaborations, answer questions, discuss current research topics, build relationships,  learn from other people’s failures or experiences, establish yourself as an expert in your field, add value to others (I’ll explain this later), and/or other personal reasons such as business or entrepreneurial ventures.

Those who are in academia and choose to network with those in industry, may even help bridge the gap between academia and industry which has many added benefits. The bottom line is that networking is extremely valuable and you never know what opportunities might arise.

A common misconception is that networking only serves one purpose: finding employment. This will be covered more in detail in my Ebook or Part 2 of this series. However, a survey conducted by the Science Advisory Board (www.scienceboard.net) revealed that networking is by far the most successful means of finding employment. Networking is responsible for 90% or more of finding employment, whereas cold resume submission has been reported as low as only 4-10%.

If that 90% isn’t a good incentive for you to step out of your comfort zone, then this is your wake up call.

Some working professionals who already have an established career stop networking because they no longer see the need. No matter what situation you are in, you should NEVER stop networking. You never know when it will pay off.

Graduate School “Tunnel Vision”

For graduate students in particular, the need to network becomes even more obvious. As a graduate student, not only did you make the decision to go get an advanced degree, but you made a decision to increase your chances of landing a better job. Without networking this chance is dramatically diminished.

For example, a lot of PhDs in the sciences will spend five to six years on average working in a research lab. During that time, the majority typically network very little. Many are afraid to step out of their comfort zone or they lack confidence. Some find themselves caught up in fear or making the excuse that it takes too much time.

Another excuse is that one’s particular field doesn’t require networking or good communication skills. One major downside of graduate school is that a graduate student may get “tunnel vision.” Tunnel vision is when a graduate student gets so overly-focused on his or her thesis topic that he or she doesn’t devote any time to other things other than finishing the degree.

Although the end-goal is to graduate in the fastest possible time, it is meaningless if you are unemployed and with a degree that you aren’t even putting into good use. You finally got your degree yet you don’t even know how you’re going to use it. Next comes the traditional post-doc. Or does it?

The Problem With Taking On A Post-Doc and Not Networking

A post-doc is a good option for those who want to stay in academia or broaden their skills as a scientist and want to continue their love for science. If you want to stay in academia, the need to network might not seem as prevalent or important. However, for those who want to go into industry, there is a cross-over you will have to make: Academia into industry. The need to network is greater than if you were just switching into a different lab and remaining in academia.

I will point out that just because you are a fifth year post-doc for example, this doesn’t entitle you to a job and it certainly doesn’t exclude you from having to network. But the real question is: Is a post-doc even necessary? Depending on what you ultimately want to do as a career, the answer is ultimately up to you.

But I will also point out that 50% of Graduating PhDs end up doing a “traditional” post-doc upon graduation. Some even enter Industrial Post-Docs (although this is a road less traveled). Of that 50% how many are landing tenure positions? Not surprisingly, only 14 percent of those with a PhD in biology and the life sciences now land a coveted academic position within five years (according to a 2009 NSF survey). Do you see a problem here? Most will look the other way or ignore the problem.

It is no wonder we have a so-called “post-doc crisis,” which is when a newly minted PhD ends up taking a traditional post-doc, then ends up spending an average of four or more years at one post-doc. What happens after the first post-doc? They end up doing a second post-doc and never end up with a “real” job until much later. Or worse. They remain a post-doc, come to their senses about the poor job prospects, and enter industry, government, or sadly leave the field altogether. Can the “post-doc crisis” be prevented through the benefits of networking? The answer is YES.

Another important question here is: Where do the other 50% go? Careers in discovery research, preclinical research, bio/pharmaceutical product development, and clinical development may require post-doc experience. However, other careers in industry such as project management, medical or regulatory affairs, quality and operations, business and corporate development, sales, marketing, technical applications and support, corporate communications, law, executive leadership, consulting, or finance may require a totally different kind of experience and you most likely do not need a post-doc as a stepping stone.

No matter what your career goals are, the need to network is imminent.

Some companies may require post-doc experience, but networking will give you an edge either way. Networking serves two important purposes. First, it can educate you (see informational interviews)  by allowing you to talk to others in the field and learn about potential career opportunities and options. From this, you may realize that you don’t want to be stuck at the lab bench anymore based on information that was shared and learned. You may even realize that you want to take your career in a totally different direction.

Maybe you can’t see two steps or even five years ahead in your career, but networking may just help you and add immense value. Maybe you want to do one post-doc as you see the benefits and it fits with your goals and career objectives, but then leverage your network to land a good job. However, the second benefit of networking is that it allows you to skip the post-doc altogether. Either way, networking allows you to transition away from a post-doc.

To get around Graduate School or even Post-Doc “Tunnel Vision” you have to make an effort to dedicate your time to networking. Even once a month is better than nothing. Many graduate students (and post-docs) who work in research labs won’t even leave their lab building for lunch. Just think if you met a network contact once a month.  How about once a week? Your network isn’t going to grow by staying in lab in seclusion.

I Understand That Networking Is Important But I’ll Worry About It Later.

If you have said or thought this in the past you need to change your way of thinking. Now. Graduate school and the poor job prospects in academia can throw you curve balls. You can have personal issues, your lab can lose funding, or you may find out that it’s not for you. If you network early on and keep networking throughout graduate school or beyond it, you have strategically created opportunities and built personal relationships. This may play a huge role and have unmeasured benefits upon completion of your degree or in your future career.

Effective Networking Is A Learned Art

Don’t expect to become an expert on networking right away. In fact, it is a skill that needs to be developed over time. So what can you do to build your network? Again, don’t get used to just sitting at your desk all day and in front of a computer. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction and making personal connections. This is exactly why an online marketer is at a disadvantage (especially using social media). Keep in mind, half of networking is just showing up.

10 Ways To Effectively Network

  1. Talk to your professors. Chances are they know people (or have past lab members) within and outside of academia. Preferably talk to the professors (ie the ones who run their own company) who are well connected and can introduce you to those people in industry that have transitioned away from academia. Get the names of those individuals. Email or call them and set up a time to meet.Then, do an informational interview (#4) with that key contact. From there, ask to be introduced to other people that they might know and it will spiderweb and create an endless network.
  2. Attend live networking events or “happy hours”.
  3. Go to scientific conferences.
  4. Start doing more informational interviews via introductions through LinkedIn or branching out from your existing network (the higher you aim position-wise, the better your chances will be for establishing a network that branches out).
  5. Attend career fairs, product shows, recruitment events, seminars, etc.
  6. Connect with someone who is established or is much better at networking than you and who can connect you with working professionals. Or better yet, connect with someone who can teach you effective ways to network.
  7. Audit classes on campus. If you are a science person, then take a business class and start networking with business professors and MBA students. If not business, find a secondary interest and step out of your comfort zone.
  8. Talk to those interested in entrepreneurship and possibly starting their own company. Chances are you will learn about what drives you, others, and you may just come up with the right idea that could lead to a successful business.
  9. If you can’t do face-to-face interviews, connect with that distant (interesting) person over the phone. Chances are they may be in your area on business sometime in the near future and they will contact you to meet face-to-face. This also expands your network beyond your own local area.
  10. Give presentations, be a guest speaker, and put yourself out there. The more you step out of your comfort zone the more you will find new networking opportunities! And this can lead to yet even more opportunities!

Some Key Things To Remember

Understanding what networking is NOT is just as important as knowing why you should be networking.

  • Networking is NOT about selling your products or services. Your objective is to build a relationship or connection with that person. Ease up about having to sell yourself, and make sure you keep an open mind. You never know who might be a potential business partner, referral, or your future employer.
  • Networking is NOT about selling you. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare for a quick introduction for the common question “So.. What do you do?”, but it shouldn’t be rehearsed or over-practiced. Do not dominate the conversation and bore the person with only talking about yourself. Show sincerity and focus on adding value.
  • Networking is NOT about just finding employment. Remember it’s all about adding VALUE to others. If it just so happens you do end up finding employment, then great. But this should not be your main objective. This means you have started networking for the wrong reasons: To only add value to yourself and no one else.

So what SHOULD you do?

  1. Get comfortable talking about what you do (you should be able to sum this up in no more than 30 seconds) and with speaking to a total stranger. That means practice your elevator pitch.
  2. Have a casual conversation that adds value to that person.
  3. Make a definitive plan with at least 3 people to have a follow-up meeting. That means having lunch, coffee, or seeing them at the next meeting or event (you can even invite them ahead of time if you’re going).
  4. Get to know the organizers and those who plan events.
  5. Ask be to a presenter or speaker at a future meeting  (such as Biotech Happy Hour) or on-campus event.
  6. Position yourself as an expert in your niche.
  7. Seek out potential business or academic partnerships.
  8. Expand your network! Ask to be introduced to other key contacts this particular person might know (LinkedIn works great for introductions). The network is endless and you can go as far as you like.

Plan Before And After Each Event

Make sure you have a plan for what your objectives are before attending a particular event. Obviously, do your research ahead of time. What do you want to get out of attending this event? If you aren’t defining your objectives ahead of time, you may just waste time or money of that particular groups’ objectives because they are not in-line with your own business or personal goals. Avoid this pitfall and mismatch.

After the event, make sure you FOLLOW UP. Especially with the people you said you would follow up with. You exchanged business cards remember? Don’t let more than a week go by without making contact, otherwise it will show you were not engaged. Show them that you serious and you value their time by further establishing a sincere personal connection.

Schedule time to follow up. Do phone calls or emails. You need to set aside a specific amount of time to do this each week. Why? You need to get the most out of your networking efforts! Not just waste them. The whole point to a follow-up is to maintain that connection and add value to each other.

Conclusions

By building your network, you are increasing your net worth. People will begin to see you as an authority in your particular niche. It will gain you credibility and respect. Most importantly, they will see the value that you have to offer. You’re not just another face in the crowd.

Keep networking consistently and do this in order to build yourself or your particular brand. The beauty of networking is that the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be talking about WHO YOU ARE and WHAT VALUE YOU HAVE TO OFFER.

Increase your net worth and you may just find that future start up company or job in industry not too far off. You never know WHAT can happen. The possibilities are endless. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start Networking!!

Further Reading

1) Part 2: Ultimate PhD Networking Guide: How To Create Opportunities Out Of Thin Air (Part 2)

2) Part 3: Ultimate PhD Networking Guide: How To Create Opportunities Out Of Thin Air (Part 3)

If you want to learn more (in greater depth), my Ebook will release sometime in 2013. I want to truly help grad students or post-docs boost their net worth and their networking skills. Therefore, the book is FREE. I am going to share my experiences and hardships and what I did that truly saved my PhD. Had I not started networking in Jan of 2012, I would have no direction, goals, seemingly low net worth, and I would lack confidence of how I could add value to others.

From teaching myself and stepping out of my comfort zone, I created a network out of thin air and built 200+ connections on LinkedIn in under 6 months. I used LinkedIn and informational interviews as one method, but also built my network (in both academia and industry) through means as outlined above. Either way, I hope I can add value to graduate student’s (or post-docs) who need to network, allowing them to look towards their future with optimism. Happy networking!

Graduate Student Advice Series: 7 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd

How To Stand Out From The Crowd

Competition for jobs after graduate school is brutal.

Whether you are staying in academia or moving to the business world, you are going to need every advantage. Doing great work in your field is advantage number one, but it’s not enough. Not only do you have to acquire great skills and do great work, you have to make sure people know about you. Here are things to start doing today to build your professional presence:

1) The Four P’s: Publications, Posters, Presentations and Patents

No surprise here. There’s no substitute for doing wonderful work and publishing papers, speaking at conferences and delivering poster sessions. I think you already know that the quality of your work matters. Make every effort to do the best research you can. Explore every opportunity to show off your research, for example in on-campus cross-discipline discussion clubs. And if you’re in a discipline in which you can create patentable property, talk to the college technology licensing office to find out how to do this. (It’s best to talk to them as early as possible so you know what’s involved in protecting your intellectual property). Don’t let anything interfere with your progress towards a great research project.

2) Start an ‘achievements’ file right now

No one updates their CV or resume as often as they should. And I find that it can be hard to remember everything I’ve done when I finally get around to it. Start a paper or electronic file to hold evidence of your achievements. Any success or recognition, new skill or achievement goes into the file. Did you present your research to another lab? Write it down. Did you attend a lecture series on starting a company? Make note of it. Two years from now you may be crafting a cover letter and some obscure class you took or skill you have may make a difference. Not everything in the file needs to go into your resume, but you’ll appreciate having the documentation when you do get around to the updates.

3) Scrub your online presence

Every company and lots of universities will google you before making an offer – and many will do it before setting up an interview. Search for yourself and make sure there is nothing out there that might embarrass you. What should you do if you find something indiscreet? Well, if it is under your control, delete it and hope for the best. (Google and other search engines save cached versions of webpages for a long time, so your Spring Break photos might persist even after you’ve taken them down.) If a friend has posted something that you’re not happy about, explain to them that this is serious and ask them to remove it. What if it’s not in your control – like something an ex-girlfriend posted? Not much you can do in that case. Do be aware that most interviewers were college students once, and so they will cut you a certain amount of slack. But be careful in the future. It might also be a good idea to set up a new identity with a different version of your name (‘DKalish’ instead of ‘Doug Kalish’) to distinguish your professional online presence from your personal one. And if you have a common name, you may want to disambiguate yourself. On my website, I had to differentiate myself from the Doug Kalishes who paint dog pictures and fish for bass.

4) Join professional organizations in your field

What are the leading professional organizations in your field? Here’s a great site with links to every professional association imaginable. Many of these associations have career advice, job boards, and mentors. And many of them have student rates, too. Talk to professors, PIs, peers, and mentors to find out which are the most important to you. The associations will provide you with invaluable information about what’s hot in the field, what skills are needed, and who is hiring. This is a great way to start networking.

5) Set up professional social media accounts

If you aren’t on LinkedIn already, set up an account now. Fill in your profile. Link to your school, professors, others in in your field, and professional organizations. Are you staying in academia? Link to people in labs and schools where you’d like do a post-doc or get a teaching position. Are you pursuing non-academic jobs? Link to the companies you are interested in. Do the same with Twitter. And here are some useful tips on using Twitter if you’re a grad student or post-doc.

6)  Build an online reputation

Use LinkedIn and Twitter to post news and observations about your field. If you’ve read a good paper or heard a good talk, post it. If you’re attending a conference, post the interesting stuff you’re hearing. If you are giving a paper or a poster, post the information. Don’t be a troll – someone who posts scathing and cynical comments. It’s ok to disagree with someone else online, but do it in unemotional and rational way, especially if it is someone in your field. You want to build a reputation as a thoughtful, intelligent person. Also, I suggest setting up a blog or starting a website, too. Most departments and many labs will have websites that identify their members. If you can, post a picture and a description of your work and links to your own website or blog. Any way you do it online, keep it professional, but this is a good place to put information about your relevant interests, skills and achievements that won’t fit on your resume.

7) Get business cards

I know it seems crazy in our online world, but business cards are still the currency of business relationships. Many colleges offer free or discounted cards to grad students. See if yours does. If not, the copy stores can print up 100 cheaply. I suggest leaving a title (like ‘grad student’ or ‘post-doc researcher’) off the card, if you can. Put your field of research (Doug Kalish, ‘Retinal Cell Biology’, for example, or just ‘Biochemist’). That make the cards more useful in situations where your status as a student doesn’t matter.

None of these activities are going to seriously detract your attention from the first order of business – doing great graduate work – but they all will help to establish you as a smart, connected individual in your field. Someone could recognize your name, or be impressed by the quantity and quality of your online posts. That could make the difference between getting an interview or not.

Is everyone going to follow my advice? No – some aren’t going to read it, some will think it’s not necessary, and some are too lazy. Here’s your opportunity to stand out. For more help on finding your first job, check out my website http://www.dougsguides.com. Good luck and good hunting.

Further Reading:

Tooling Up: How To Craft A Winning Resume/CV

About The Author:

Doug is an educator, consultant and serial entrepreneur with a PhD in biology who has founded or been an early executive in four companies.  In the summer of 2011 he began “dougsguides” to help college students make the transition from academia to the business world.  He now devotes most of his time touring college campuses spreading the dougsguides message. You can like dougsguides on Facebook, follow  on Twitter and connect with Doug Kalish on LinkedIn.

Graduate Student Series: Why Not Seek Out And Hire An Executive Coach?

My Story

I’m a coach and I’m not sure I would have hired a coach when I left graduate school. First, there weren’t any coaches back then. I was fortunate; however, to have a great manager who spent a tremendous amount of time training and mentoring me in sales so I could make the transition from a scientific background to technical sales. Most companies these days don’t want to invest that kind of time. Or the manager doesn’t have the skills or inclination to coach a new employee. I hope every graduate has as positive an experience as I had with my first manager, yet I know that it is relatively rare to find great managers in most organizations. I don’t think I’ve ever had as good a manager/coach since my first job in sales.

As I think back to the start my first post graduate corporate position I can relate to many people who are completing their graduate degrees now. If you’ve invested a lot of time, energy and money on school, it isn’t initially particularly exciting to consider further investment in a coach. I certainly would not have wanted to hear (particularly if I was getting an MBA) that relatively few graduate degree programs truly prepare students for quickly developing key relationships and making a high impact in corporate world. And, if post graduate training is academic research based, the transition road may be particularly fraught with frustration as the corporate profit model is very different from the often paternalistic model of management followed in academia.

The other reason I probably would not have hired a coach was that I had no idea how powerful and beneficial coaching could be in a corporate setting. I guess I’m supposed to promote that there is a benefit, because I am a coach. That said, if WI Badgers coach, Bret Bielema, said that coaches are a valuable part of the game, everyone would believe him. It’s a given at the UW that a coach can help football players play a better game faster than if the person tried to gain the skills individually. People at the top of their game invest in sports coaches to hone their skills for a reason. Coaches can observe what behaviors work and which behaviors do not and help a player tweak behaviors so they bring out their strongest talents and have the most impact in the least amount of time.

Why It’s Important

Considering corporate life is a team sport, if you are serious about quickly building a sustainable career, having a coach may be more than worth the investment. In the corporate world people are constantly judged on behavior and whether he/she is perceived as not only productive but likeable. Corporations want “performance” and performance depends on how well groups of people work together to achieve a common goal. Some sports team or graduate school skills translate to corporate life and some do not. I’ve known a lot of highly trained, skilled and talented professionals who remained unrecognized in organizations and/or immediately alienated others because of his or her lack of awareness about how to effectively work in a corporate setting.

People skills are everything and building trust and lasting relationships are essential for leaders who want to massively influence and move up the corporate ladder. Why not enter the corporate arena with the help of someone who knows how the game is played to coach you on how to leverage all of your training and increase your chance of winning right out of the gate?

While I did fairly well moving up from sales through product manager to an executive position in marketing, I now realize that a coach would have helped me increase my level of influence with peers and managers as well as to negotiate more easily through the pain of the conflicts that normally occur along the professional path. Even more important, a coach would have helped me live a more balanced life along the way. I was pretty burnt out by the time I joined the personal development path and transitioned to become a coach so I could help others have a smoother path than I did. The goal is to have faster and more effective results, less time invested, and less wear and tear. And finally, quickly discover the secrets that most people need to know for building influence, getting recognized and ultimately rewarded appropriately for the effort invested.

Seek Out Opportunity!

A business/executive coach with experience in business can help you put yourself on the fast track for high impact by leveraging your strengths from day one of a new position. This includes powerful tips for building relationships and influencing key players who will be making decisions about your future. In the next blog I’ll cover some of the most powerful “starting out tips”.

Most coaches offer a 30 minute complimentary demonstration session of what coaching can help you achieve. It’s a great opportunity to take one out for a test drive. If you would like a copy of the top 10 questions for interviewing a life or executive coach email me at at cvillars at biotactics dot com.

I wish you the best establishing a great career where you can make a positive contribution and brings you enjoyment for many years to come.

About Blogger  Cay Villars

Cay Villars LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/cayvillars

Cay shares her experiences in her In Business Magazine Free Minds at Work blog  http://www.ibmadison.com/Blogger/Free-Minds-At-Work

Cay is a facilitator, executive coach, and management consultant with over 20 years of marketing, sales, and business development experience in leading Life Sciences technology companies, including Amersham (now GE Healthcare), Becton Dickinson, and Promega.   Her expertise is in facilitating sustainable behavioral change.  She facilitates executives and executive teams to inspire, focus, and align high-yield behaviors to increase engagement, revenues, and profitability.   She developed her expertise in setting minds free and changing behavior from over 15 years  coaching individuals from all walks of life, from CEOs to inmates, with over 7 years as a volunteer coach and leadership trainer for those incarcerated in Wisconsin prisons.   

Her dynamic and interactive presentations and facilitated programs include Strategic and Operations Planning & Engagement, Standards of Professional Excellence (behavioral competencies), Coaching to the Gift (Elegant, high impact, transformational feedback), Free Minds at Work Conversations (conflict free conversations), Language of Leadership (beliefs and language patterns that engage results), CEO/Executive Leadership Retreats,  Free Minds at Work, and Break through Mental Barriers (Martial arts style board break).   She is a leadership Trainer for Robbins Research International.  She facilitates a PeerSpective CEO roundtable and the High tech Senior HR Manager’s Best Practice Roundtable. 

She shares her experience.

MABC Profile: http://tinyurl.com/77walm3

Top 3 Worst Practices in a New Position

Worst practices that will limit your chance for advancement.

Guest Blogger Coach Cay Villars
Written October 1, 2012, Published On October 5, 2012

A few years ago I taught a program, Best Practices for High Impact in a New Position, to participants in the UW Masters in Biotechnology Program.    To kick the program off, participants shared the worst practices they had seen from people starting out in a new job.  The most startling yet entertaining practice was “fall asleep in the monkey cage.”    Apparently on the first day of work a new animal keeper decided that a nap with the monkeys was an acceptable practice. I regret that I did not ask whether the monkey was in the cage at the same time.

While this example provided untold hours of enjoyment for employees sharing the story with peers, management was less than amused and acted quickly to make this the last on site snooze (or anything else) the keeper did at the company.

Aside from fun stories about activities guaranteed to help people lose their job on the first day, there are a few other frequently practiced yet more subtle “worst practices” that might be best avoided by those new to a position.  I thought I would share a couple of them along with powerful best practice alternatives.

  • Worst Practice #1: Tell everyone you meet in the new company what you’ve achieved, how you did it in your last job or experience and why that is better than what they are doing now

This may sound extreme, and yet it is probably one of the worst and yet most frequently practiced behaviors by new employees, particularly those transferring between companies.    It certainly is a frequent practice among scientists, who get trained to “put their stuff out there”.   There is the belief that “showing your stuff” wins points.    Unfortunately what that behavior ultimately wins is a reputation of “one-up-man-ship”.  Colleagues will feel disrespected and disconnected, as this behavior is a no-brainer way of alienating people as quickly as possible.

A counter intuitive best practice approach is to listen and collect information first (follow the edict “People don’t care unless they know you care”) by conducting informational interviews with all the key players you might interact with in your new position.  This includes your manger, direct reports, peers and managers in other departments.  Build relationships by showing an interest in their needs and what they feel is important to the organization.   This will give you opportunities to identity how you can best apply your skills and knowledge to support their effort.  It will help you understand how to build strong relationships and ultimately, how to positively influence others.

When you follow up and deliver according to what they need, you will immediately be recognized as someone who delivers while meeting the needs of others.   People remember those individuals who pay attention and support their ideas.

  • Worst practice #2: Focus on “doing your own job” and never bother to learn how to add full value to what the company is trying to accomplish.

Many employees adhere to the belief that it is not necessary to have an in-depth understanding of the company’s growth goals, customers, products or services because that is “marketing’s job”.

The cost to this (lack of proactive) behavior, particularly since the economic downturn, is that many who have adopted this practice are former employees in the layoff line.  The most valued employees understand customers, what customers value and how their role adds value to the company and to customers. Customers include external customers as well as “customers/employees” in other departments of the company who depend on the services you provide.    If you can demonstrate that you can add value to all customers, it is much easier to get promoted and much harder for companies to let you go.  And if you do get laid off, your resume can be filled with how in the past, you added and delivered value to customers, colleagues and thus the bottom line of any company.

Every company benefits from people who know how to save money and improve the bottom line while delivering high value products and services. The best power practice is to be proactive about learning everything you can about your company.  If it is allowed by management, review your company’s strategic and/or annual operations plan.  Talk to managers and peers and interview sales or marketing to learn about products and services.   This information (along with the stakeholder interviews) will provide powerful insights as to how you can help improve organizational efficiencies and add value to internal and external customers.

  • Worst practice #3: Depend strictly on your academic training to guide you in order to know what to do to successfully bring your greatest value to an organization

Sometimes the beliefs that we need to be self sufficient or that we have to know everything in a position are extremely self limiting.    People who get fast results know that a best practice is to find someone who has been successful doing what they want to do and model his or her best practices.    A power approach is to identify a mentor or coach either internal or external to the organization who is willing and capable of guiding you based on their school of hard knocks experience.   Invite the person to lunch, share your outcomes and see what develops from there.

There are many great ways to learn how to add value in organizations for those who are proactive about constantly learning what it takes to do a great job and are willing to take positive action.  Those two traits, along with the ability to work well with others will continue to be the most valued and thus sought after characteristics in organizations.   An  employee who demonstrates these characteristics early on in a job quickly becomes sought after as an indispensible resource, rather than avoided as a corporate liability.

If you would like a summary of the key questions you should answer in order to quickly make a positive impact in a new position, email me, Cay Villars, at cvillars at biotactics dot com.

Cay Villars LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/cayvillars

About Blogger  Cay Villars

Cay is a facilitator, executive coach, and management consultant with over 20 years of marketing, sales, and business development experience in leading Life Sciences technology companies, including Amersham (now GE Healthcare), Becton Dickinson, and Promega.   Her expertise is in facilitating sustainable behavioral change.  She facilitates executives and executive teams to inspire, focus, and align high-yield behaviors to increase engagement, revenues, and profitability.   She developed her expertise in setting minds free and changing behavior from over 15 years  coaching individuals from all walks of life, from CEOs to inmates, with over 7 years as a volunteer coach and leadership trainer for those incarcerated in Wisconsin prisons.  

She shares her experiences in her In Business Magazine Free Minds at Work blog  http://www.ibmadison.com/Blogger/Free-Minds-At-Work/

Her dynamic and interactive presentations and facilitated programs include Strategic and Operations Planning & Engagement, Standards of Professional Excellence (behavioral competencies), Coaching to the Gift (Elegant, high impact, transformational feedback), Free Minds at Work Conversations (conflict free conversations), Language of Leadership (beliefs and language patterns that engage results), CEO/Executive Leadership Retreats,  Free Minds at Work, and Break through Mental Barriers (Martial arts style board break).   She is a leadership Trainer for Robbins Research International.  She facilitates a PeerSpective CEO roundtable and the High tech Senior HR Manager’s Best Practice Roundtable.  

MABC Profile: http://tinyurl.com/77walm3