Three Pillars To Finding Success

Stephanie is in her early fifties. She has been a business consultant for 20 years and worked her way up from a junior associate to become one of the few women partners in her company. She lives a comfortable life and no longer needs to pull frequent all-nighters to stay on top of her work. Though considered successful by most people, she is a bit lost as to her next step. Driven by a strong desire for success and the responsibility for taking care of her family, she never entertained the possibilities of other options for her career.

Knowing what success means to you will help you find greater meaning and clear the path for your next venture. Here, we share three pillars to help you define success for yourself from business author and motivational speaker Lei Wang.

1. Make every achievement personal and measure success against your own effort rather than any external comparison. If you rely on external comparison to validate your sense of success, you may obscure your own perception by comparing yourself to people who are less or more “successful” than you.

Every person has a different starting point and different talents. So, your success can only be judged against your own effort. What matters is not where you start from, or where you are today, but how hard you are working and how fast you are making progress. Instead of resorting to external comparisons, compare where you are today versus where you were yesterday. Keep an eye on where you want to be tomorrow, and constantly make your best effort day after day. Soon you will be surprised to find out how far you’ve come.

2. The energy and motivation that a challenge inspires in you will make it easier to reach the summit of your career. Be sure not to overachieve at the expense of being able to sustain yourself mentally and physically for the next challenge.

You may find yourself at a critical junction and believe that taking a break means failure. But remember: your ultimate goal, your ultimate success, is much further than the goal in front of you. What can you do to prepare yourself for the long-haul to success? What can you do today to be better prepared when you face another critical moment tomorrow? By taking care of some important—but not yet urgent—issues today, you can avoid an urgent problem in the future. In business, that’s what risk management is for; in your daily life, that’s what learning and taking care of your health and your relationships is for.

3. Success is a journey of constant searching and reconnecting with purpose. Any achievement, no matter how significant it may be, is just a point on this journey, with many opportunities for success—but you need a target.

Common targets include reaching a certain number in revenue, scoring a certain position in an organization or attaining a certain rank in your profession. However, understand that each of those goals is just a point on your journey to success. The points themselves are not the ultimate success you are pursuing. Just like the measurement of success comes from within, the goal also needs to connect to something within yourself.

The most important question is why. Why are you in this business? What does reaching those goals mean to you and your family? What is the ultimate “goal” you are trying to reach beyond those “points”?

You must dig deeper to understand your internal drivers. Once you know the purpose you are serving or pursuing, it will be easier to see how those points on your journey connect and where you are heading. Let your purpose be the guide posts on your journey. With purpose, you will never feel lost because you know where you are heading.

Source: Lei Wang is an internationally-recognized adventurer, motivational speaker and author ofAfter the Summit: New Rules for Reaching Your Peak Potential in Your Career and Life . The first Asian woman to complete the Explorers Grand Slam (climbing the highest peak on each continent and skiing to both poles), Wang channels her experiences to convey a message of perseverance and steadfast determination that her audiences can use at work or at home.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

Four Strategies For Making The Right Connections

Networking is critical to keeping the momentum of growth and opportunity throughout your career. Unfortunately, networking comes easier to some people than to others. Today we share these five strategies from Jill Johnson, business author and speaker, on how to build your network of connections.

1. Build Your Network Before You Need It:
 Johnson says the best time to start networking is while you’re still in school. Look for professional groups in your field. Attend their events with the goal to meet people working full-time in the field and learn from the speakers. Many of these groups need volunteers.

As a student, I was a member of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), and had opportunities to interact with public relations professionals. It was a great way to ask questions, learn about the skills I needed and make connections for internships.

Be sure to follow up your meeting with a thank-you note and reach out to make a connection on LinkedIn, along with a personal message. These are the details that get you remembered.

2. Be Specific In Asking For What You Want: Don’t waste the time of your networking contacts. Be clear about what you are hoping to gain from the meeting. Tell them exactly what you want to do and why you think they can help you. “Informational interviews” are a terrific method for learning about their career path and gaining their insight on how to build your career. Make sure you have a stated purpose for the meeting and then stick to it. Ask if there are any events, trade association meetings or volunteer opportunities that you should consider to help you build your network and gain some good foundational experience.

3. Face Time Is Critical:
 We’re all too used to communicating by text and email. While that works in many situations, networking requires a personal connection. People can only get to know and like you as well as help you when they meet you in person.

You can get face time simply by asking for it. Request a 15-minute face-to-face meeting. Prepare for your meeting by reviewing your contact’s professional LinkedIn profile and company website. Have your question list ready, then greet them and listen carefully as they answer your questions. Conclude the meeting with a sincere “thank you,” in person and with a follow-up handwritten note.

4. Use Your Expertise To Help Others: Ready to pay it forward? Share some of your learnings and perspectives with your new networking connection and keep in touch. One interaction is not enough. Remember to pay it forward by asking if there is anything you can do to for them. There might not yet be an answer, but it counts that you’re interested in a two-way street if possible. You have valuable knowledge, too.

Whether starting out early in your career or looking for the next right opportunity, try these tips and branch out with new contacts.

Source: Jill Johnson is the president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant and author of the forthcoming Bold Questions Series. Johnson helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted nearly four billion dollars’ worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results.

Build Unshakable Confidence During Shaky Times

We all know that the world today is not what it was 10 years ago, or even five years ago. Our mobile phones, laptops, tablets and televisions frequently depict images of the political, financial and international upheavals that have an effect on our economy.

With so many stressors and distractions, it can be a challenge to stay confident and maintain a positive attitude as a leader. In a recent article, highly regarded sales coach Joel Garfinkle shared 10 tips for building an unshakable confidence. Here is an excerpt from his article:

1. Know that things will not stay the same. They will change, they will get better. In the meantime, recognize that you can’t change the direction of the wind. But you can change the direction of your sails.

2. See the bigger picture. We’ve had economic and financial crises over the past 80 years. From the 1929 Great Depression, lines at the gas pumps in 1973, Black Monday in 1987, the 2001 bust and the Great Recession in 2008-2009. With each economic crisis, we haven’t just recovered; we have seen a very positive turnaround. You will get through this.

3. Take action that shows you are in charge. Perhaps the most frustrating part is feeling that your situation is out of control—that you can’t do anything about it. Instead, take action, even if it’s small steps, to show you can make a difference in your own future. This will empower you and build your sense of self-confidence.

4. Cut back on expenses. Make small adjustments to your spending habits and lifestyle. List all your expenses and see what and where you can cut. Instead of looking at budget cutting as a pain, consider it a challenge or opportunity.

5. Bring in extra income. You could get a part-time job or spend a few hours a week doing something extra to bring in more money. Or consider asking for a raise or working more overtime.

6. Limit the amount of news you take in. In one day, you can easily read the paper, watch the internet and then consume the TV news stations. All of this is overkill and will just reinforce the negativity. Limit how much news you take in. This will help you not get overwhelmed and swamped in doubt and fear.

7. Use your savings—it’s a rainy day. You know the adage, “Save for a rainy day.” Guess what? It’s raining! Now is the time to use the money you have put aside. Tapping into this rainy-day fund might take some of the pressure off.

8. Be willing to take on additional responsibilities. As companies downsize, the “survivors” are often asked to pick up the additional work. Understandably, this causes resentment and hard feelings. Instead of complaining, look at this as an opportunity to increase your value to your organization. Then, even if you are laid off, this additional experience and responsibility will make you that much more employable.

9. Surround yourself with positive people. Put an end to the pity parties. As Richard DeVos, the founder of Amway, once said, “Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A word of optimism and hope. And you can do it when things are tough.”

10. Spend more time with the people you love … doing the things you love. Turn off the TV or computer and work on your golf game. Surprise your spouse or partner with breakfast in bed. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or your local humane society. Look for reasons to celebrate the people you love and the friendships you’ve enjoyed over the years (in good times and in bad).

Source: Joel Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 coaches in the U.S., and the author of seven books, including Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level. He has worked with many of the world’s leading companies, including Google, Deloitte, Amazon, Ritz-Carlton, Gap, Cisco, Oracle and many more. Subscribe to his Fulfillment@Work Newsletter and receive the free e-book, 40 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now! Copyright ©2005-2016 Joel Garfinkle, All Rights Reserved.

What You Say In Sales Makes A Difference

It’s that time of year when Facebook posts are flooded with pictures of kids on the first day of school, ready for a new year and a fresh start at learning.

Today, we are going back to school too—well, sort of—to learn the basics of verb tenses and the impact these simple tweaks can have on sales.

You see, verb tenses are a very powerful tool we can use to influence people when we speak, especially in sales. Here’s a quick lesson to improve the way you overcome objections in your sales interactions.

When we think of events, we naturally order them in a time sequence. Time distinctions are expressed primarily by verb form.

To determine how you represent verb forms internally, take any simple behavior and notice how your internal experience (e.g. pictures in your head) shifts when the same content shifts position in time via the three simple verb forms below.

“I talked to her.” (past)

“I talk to her.” (present)

“I will talk to her.” (future)

The experience is different, isn’t it?

Now try these three:

“I was talking to her.”

“I am talking to her. ‘”

“I will be talking to her.”

The “ing” ending adds the experience of movement to your internal images.

So, how do you use this in sales? When a prospect brings up an objection, it is very useful to move that objection into the past. Then focus your prospect on the future and on successfully using your product. Finally, when they have a good feeling about using your product, bring that feeling back into the present. Look at this example:

Prospect says: “Your product is too expensive.”

Your response: “Wow, let me get this right, you thought our product was too expensive.

(This response moves the client’s objection into the past and hints that the person could think differently.)

Amazing! I haven’t heard that for a long time. When I’ve spoken to clients who had thought our product was too expensive it usually turned out that they hadn’t considered X,Y and Z.

Just suppose you used our product and you noticed improvement in your business in the areas of X, Y and Z.

(This moves the prospect’s thoughts into the future and successfully using your product or service).

That would be a good result for your business, wouldn’t it?

(This associates them with the good feelings.)

And, as you think about those positive outcomes now, how differently are you feeling about using our product?”

(This moves the positive future feeling to the present and also suggests they’ll be feeling differently in the present.)

Sales is about getting your prospect to imagine using your product enough times in their head and feeling good about it so that they actually go out and do it in real life. That’s what happens in the example above. Try this technique to further your sales success.

Source: Greg Woodley is a sales expert, author and sales trainer with 25 years of experience in B2B sales.

Tips For Vendor Partnerships

You get a last-minute call from a top customer for a 1,000-piece order. Who are you going to call? You will reach out to the vendor you can count on, that’s who!

Vendor management allows you to build a relationship with your suppliers and service providers that will strengthen both businesses. Vendor management is not about negotiating the lowest price possible. Vendor management is constantly working with your vendors to create partnerships that will mutually benefit both companies.

1. Share information and priorities. The most important success factor of vendor management is to share information and priorities with your vendors. Appropriate vendor management practices provide only the necessary information at the right time that will allow a vendor to better service your needs. This may include limited forecast information, new product launches, changes in design and expansion or relocation changes, just to name a few.

2. Balance commitment and competition. One of the goals in vendor management is to gain the commitment of your vendors to assist and support the operations of your business. On the other hand, the vendor is expecting a certain level of commitment from you. This does not mean that you should blindly accept the prices they provide. Always get competitive bids.

3. Allow key vendors to help you strategize. If a vendor supplies a key part or service to your operation, invite that vendor to strategic meetings that involve the product they work with. Remember, you brought in the vendor because they could make the product or service better and/or cheaper than you could. They are the experts in that area and you can tap into that expertise in order to give you a competitive advantage.

4. Build partnerships for the long term. Vendor management seeks long-term relationships over short-term gains and marginal-cost savings. Constantly changing vendors in order to save a penny here or there will cost more money in the long run and will impact quality. Other benefits of a long-term relationship include trust, preferential treatment and access to insider or expert knowledge.

5. Seek to understand your vendor’s business too. Remember, your vendor is in business to make money too. If you are constantly leaning on them to cut costs, either quality will suffer or they will go out of business. Part of vendor management is to contribute knowledge or resources that may help the vendor better serve you. Asking questions of your vendors will help you understand their side of the business and build a better relationship between the two of you.

6. Negotiate for both. Good vendor management dictates that negotiations are completed in good faith. Look for negotiation points that can help both sides accomplish their goals. A strong-arm negotiation tactic will only work for so long before one party walks away from the deal.

Whether you’re a multimillion dollar company or a small business with a few employees, these vendor management tips will create a win-win for both businesses.

Source: Jim Bucki is the director of computing technology at Genesee Community College. He serves on several committees at the college and in the public sector that provide expert insight on efficient operation of organizations. His wide variety of experiences across multiple industries has given him the ability to see where opportunities for improvement lie. Most recently he led a team of representatives to investigate the possibility of outsourcing some of the county’s operations.

How To Build Instant Credibility

We’ve all had those moments where a salesperson calls on us and we act just little bit guarded. He will try to sell us something we don’t want. The salesperson is pushy. She doesn’t understand my business or my challenges.
Sound familiar?

Credibility is indispensable for sales. Of course, prospects are more likely to buy from people or companies they deem credible, and your task as a sales professional is to build credibility for yourself to conceal the risk involved. Only when concrete credibility is created can you start digging for customer information, get answers to tough questions and make yourself useful.

1. Show up at the right time. One of the best ways to build instant credibility is by serving as a helpful advisor. Prospects do not like to be sold, but they are more receptive to sales reps if they feel that you are sincerely there to help them out. Reach out to prospects when they are going through a painful situation. Always remember that their painful situations are your opportunities. One way to identify this is the presence of a new leader or decision-maker within the company. Often new decision-makers allocate the most dollars in their first 90 days on the job.

2. Get a referral. When initiating your conversation to your prospects, it’s beneficial if you mention mutual connections. See if you have any connections in LinkedIn that are respected by your prospect. Even mentioning that you have done business with them will help you in fast-tracking your credibility. Sales reps can always rely on industry connections to build instant credibility.

3. Build interpersonal trust. Building interpersonal trust is a sure-shot way to build instant credibility, and there is no better way to do it than mirroring your prospect. Most people trust people who are like themselves. This induces a subconscious connection.

4. Offer customer testimonials and convincing industry statistics. Testimonials are the most influential piece of information that can establish credibility. Offering testimonials from renowned customers can boost prospects’ confidence in you. Stating some relevant industry statistic can really help in demonstrating that you are well aware of your prospects’ business processes.

5. Plead ignorance. One of the most powerful ways to earn credibility is by admitting that you don’t know everything. This may sound nonsensical, but admitting that you do not know everything makes what you do know more believable. Your prospect will start trusting everything you say. And if you ignore this and start making mistakes, when your prospects find out, which they eventually will, they might never trust you again.

Source: Francis Cyriac is a content marketer at Ameyo and InsideSalesBox. His passion for helping businesses in all aspects of customer engagement and sales acceleration flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides.

How To Lead Innovation

There may be a time when you need to take the lead on innovation in your organization. The distinguishing aspect of leading a special-purpose team is that you’re not in control; you can only influence behavior. You’re tasked with figuring out how to do something new, so what you do in the formative stages will greatly impact the team’s chances of success?

1. Keep team size small, even for big projects. In Silicon Valley, the “pizza rule” has taken hold. If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, your team is too big. Once a group gets beyond five to seven people, productivity and effectiveness begin to decline. Communication becomes cumbersome. Managing becomes a pain. Players begin to disengage, and introverts withdraw. When it comes to team size, less is more.

2. Pay attention to group chemistry and emotions. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon point to three factors that make a team highly functioning. 1) Members contributed equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate; 2) Members were better at reading complex emotional states; and 3) Teams with more women outperform teams with more men. The emotional component—how we feel when we are engaged with a team—truly matters but is all too often never discussed. Pay attention to how the people you’re inviting onto your team relate to others. Always give credit to your team rather than take credit yourself, and practice empathy at all times.

3. Don’t go overboard with diversity. Can too much diversity be a detriment to team chemistry? Researchers at Wharton think so. Too much diversity of “mental models” can be a drag on forward progress, say professors Klein and Lim. If members of a team have a shared, organized understanding and mental representation of knowledge about the nature of the challenge, it can enhance coordination and effectiveness when the task at hand is complex, unpredictable, urgent and novel. The researchers concluded that team members who share common models can save time because they share a common body of knowledge.

4. Establish a group process. A group without a process is like a ship without a rudder. It will have a harder time innovating. Establish team rules at the outset. Address how you’ll treat each other, how you’ll respect each other and articulate how much of time each member is committing to the team. Effective teams establish clear goals and rules at the outset, and hold each other accountable.

5. Pay attention to the 3R’s of innovation: Result, Reputation and Residuals. What motivates people over the long haul is not money, but intrinsic rewards. As the team leader, keep the three R’s in mind: 1) Result: If you hit your target, you’ll have another accomplishment on your track record; 2) Reputation: Your status in the organization rises. Senior management will be delighted. Colleagues will talk you up, praise your contribution, and invite you to join future projects. 3) Residuals: the lasting payout of participating in a successful collaborative team is that you get to see your “product” being used by customers, both internal and external. You know you’ve made a difference, solved a problem or created an opportunity for the organization, your team and most of all yourself.

Source: Robert B. Tucker is a renowned global futurist and innovation keynote speaker with a client list that includes more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies. President and founder of The Innovation Resource, Tucker is an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of innovation.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

17 Questions Good Communicators Can Answer Easily you regularly speak in public and write online, or you mostly express yourself over email, being a good communicator is part of every single job description.

But how can you really know if it’s something you’re good at?

Here are 17 questions that can help you identify whether you’re awesome at communicating—or a bit rusty. (And don’t worry if it’s the latter, there are simple ways to improve each of these skills.)

1. Do You Have a Message?

People are bombarded with information every day. Make sure you know what it is you want to communicate—this could be as broad as your brand or as specific as the main point in one email. (And remember, if you can’t boil your message down in a sentence, chances are, it’s not clear.)

Related: How to Send Emails That People Won’t Dread Receiving (It’s Easier Than You Think)

2. Do You Use Stories?

Stories are a great way to connect with people on an emotional level—and they make you more memorable. Try and find a story that reinforces your message.

Related: 5 Steps to Turning Any Interview Answer Into a Memorable Story

3. Do You Use Numbers?

If telling a story doesn’t seem quite right, consider using data. It’s a powerful way to reinforce your message or argument. And think about different ways to make thosestatistics stick in the minds of the people you’re speaking to.

Related: How to Quantify Your Resume Bullets When You Don’t Work With Numbers

4. Do You Use Active Voice?

Active voice puts you at the center of the action. It’s clearer—and more impressive. Consider the difference between “The crisis was solved by me earlier this morning when a solution came to me,” and “I solved the crisis by coming up with a solution.”

Related: Is Passive Voice Holding You Back at Work?

5. Do You Use Jargon?

Let’s be clear: There are some terms that everyone in the workplace uses to simplify things—like if you refer to certain meetings or tasks with abbreviations. By all means, keep doing this. However, jargon risks alienating, or at least annoying, people. So, save “low hanging fruit” for apple-picking.

Related: 10 Annoying Buzzwords the Whole Office Would Be Better Off Without

6. What About Clichés?

You read that something is “the new black,” “the secret sauce,” or “one in a million.” Rolling your eyes? That’s what happens when someone uses a cliché. We’re so used to seeing and hearing these they don’t have any impact.

Related: 7 Cliché Email Phrases That Drive People Up the Wall

7. Are You Very Wordy?

Sure, details and context can be helpful. But if your emails and presentations are full of extraneous words and facts, your main points can get lost in the shuffle. Everyone appreciates clear, crisp communication, so if something you’ve put together feels likes it’s running long, take the time to see what you might cut.

Related: Are Your Emails Too Long? (Hint: Probably)

8. Or, Are You Overly Brief?

It’s also possible to overcompensate and veer too far to the other extreme. Particularly if you’re replying to a recruiter, client, or someone very senior, take the time to write full sentences and include proper salutations and sign-offs. It’s probably not a good time for a one-word or one-line response.

Related: 4 Reasons You Haven’t Gotten a Response to Your Email

9. Do You Consider Overall Format?

If you’re crafting something comprehensive, you’ll want to think through how you can make it skimable. Maybe bullet points will work, or you could give each paragraph a heading? That way readers can scan your email or thought-leadership post and find the section that’s most relevant to them. There are loads of different ways to format articles. Numbered lists (like this one!) often work well. Use blogs and websites you find particularly easy to navigate as inspiration.

Related: 10 Presentation Rules You Had No Idea You Were Breaking

10. Do You Proofread?

If you’ve already spent a lot of time writing something, it’s tempting to hit publish straight away and be done with it. But you’ll get a whole new perspective if you let it rest. Time’s always short, but if at all possible give a draft 24 hours to rest and then re-read it. (Not possible? Even 30 minutes can make a difference.)

Related: 4 Proofreading Tricks That’ll Help You Catch More Typos)

11. Do You Ask for Feedback?

I cringe when I look back at some of the things I’ve written in the past. My writing’s improved because I’ve had some fantastic mentors who’ve taken the time to give me feedback. If you want to improve, ask for feedback from someone whose work you admire.

Related: 4 Steps for Asking for (and Getting) Truly Honest Feedback

12. Are You Direct?

Especially if you’re broaching a tricky topic—and it’s all the more tempting to beat around the bush—your best bet is to straightforward. Don’t expect people to guess what’s going on in your head. Be polite, but be clear and honest.

Related: 5 Keys to Being Blunt at Work—Without Sounding Like a Total Jerk

13. Do You Think About Which Channel to Use?

Should you use a tweet, an email, a phone call, a Facebook post, a blog or a keynote speech to deliver your message? Your decision will be based on who you are and whom you’re talking to. For difficult messages, I always prefer speaking to someone on the phone or face-to-face over email.

Related: How to Create Social Media Posts That People Will Actually Read, Like, and Share

14. Do You Vary Your Style by Medium?

In the same way that you speak to your colleagues differently to how you speak to your parents, what’s appropriate on Twitter might not be OK in an email to your CEO. If you’re unsure whether you’ve got the tone right, check in with a trusted colleague, before you hit send.

Related: 23 Mistakes Even Smart People Make Online—and How to Fix Them Fast

15. Do You Take Time to Get to Know Who You’re Connecting With?

There’s no point in opening your mouth or putting fingers to keyboard unless you know a bit about who’s on the other end. Taking the time to get to know your audience is critical to being a good communicator.

Related: The #1 Thing You Must Do Before Any Speech or Presentation

16. Did You Study Up on What Matters to Him or Her?

Google Alerts are a great way to make sure you’re always up to date with what’s going on for the people you’re in touch with. Have a customer who’s obsessed with productivity hacks? Make sure you’ve got a Google Alert set up and then you can shoot him the best articles or know you’ll have a conversation starter the next time you meet up.

Related: The Free, Career-Boosting Google Feature You Should Be Using

17. Do You Keep in Touch on a Regular Basis?

Truth: It’s a lot less awkward to ask for an invite, an intro, or a recommendation if you’re not reaching out for the first time in months (or years) to do it. Once you know who the other person is and what he or she cares about, keep the connection warm.

And this isn’t just for one-on-one relationships: Consistent communication through engaging with followers on social media or through regular blogging or sending out a newsletter reinforces the fact that you care.

Related: The Final Step to Networking Success

Strong communication skills will help you as you climb the ladder in your career. So, pat yourself on the back for all of the ones you’ve got down, and schedule some time to work on any areas for improvement.

Compiled by Felicity H. Barber

How Deep Is Your Bench?

When developing tomorrow’s leaders for your organization, is it best to source candidates internally or externally? Bringing in people from the outside can infuse a company with fresh, new ideas and a new perspective on how to get things done. But some studies suggest that developing leaders internally might be the better approach. Either way, a company should continuously build its talent bench strength.

Here, we share three steps companies can take to build bench strength via succession planning.

1. Identify the right candidates. The first step is to assess the skills needed to advance the company’s progress toward its vision, outline the core competencies required and identify potential candidates. Understanding the difference between high-potential employees and high performers is important. Future leaders—your high potentials—actively show an interest in taking on more responsibilities, leading people, and contributing and advancing new ideas. High performers stand out because of how well they do their job, which doesn’t always transfer in positions of leadership. After all, technical skills and subject matter expertise are different from the skills potential leaders have an interest in when it comes to getting the most out of the people and opportunities available within an organization.

2. Develop leadership skills on a continuous basis. Once the right candidates are identified, managers should begin developing employees’ leadership skills and discussing career objectives as well as outlining the experience, skills and training employees will need to advance. The best approach to ensure high-potential employees are progressing along their development plan is for managers to have frequent one-on-one meetings with employees to talk about leadership development, and with supervisors to outline next steps, training and offer stretch assignments that will help the employee meet his or her goals.

3. Retain leaders with real-world application of new skills. It’s not enough to just talk to employees about leadership skills and provide training; they’ll also need to practice their new skills on the job before they’ll be ready to move into more responsible roles. Stretch assignments that allow high-potential employees to direct projects or supervise teams are a great way to build employees’ confidence as they apply what they’ve learned to real-world situations. Stretch assignments also instill a greater sense of ownership, which can keep employees engaged and onboard for the long term.

Having a strong leadership pipeline has always been important, but agility and a deep bench are even more crucial in a rapidly evolving business climate. While it might not always be possible to fill open leadership roles internally, research shows that’s the best way to put someone in place who can hit the ground running. By following these three steps, companies can groom next-generation leaders who can take on new opportunities and ensure businesses continuity.

Source: Joanne Wells is the manager of Learning Centre of Excellence at Halogen Software.

Six Steps To Make A Good First Impression

Do you get nervous going into a meeting with a prospective client for the first time? Do you stress about networking with strangers at a conference reception? Each of these situations can be a bit unnerving. You know in those first few seconds that you are being sized up by the person standing across from you—just as you are sizing them up as well. You certainly want to make a good first impression, but you literally have seconds to do so.

Today we share a few tips from a recent blog by Brian Solis. He points out that naturally confident people do not shy away from meeting new people; they put themselves out there. They also practice and that helps to ease new introductions. They do not kick themselves if they have an awkward moment—they learn from it and move on.

Here are more ways confident people make a great first impression when meeting someone new:

Prepare: It is smart to research who you are meeting ahead of time so you will feel at ease and able to strike up conversations more easily. This is not always possible, but in work situations, you know who you will be speaking with more often than not. Read up on the background of the company so that you have a few talking points to share.

Be punctual: Being late not only makes a poor first impression, but it starts you off at a disadvantage. If you are meeting in person, plan to arrive a little early so you can find a parking space and collect your thoughts. If you are participating in a web meeting, eliminate distractions ahead of time and be ready to log in as soon as the meeting starts.

Offer a friendly hello: You may not have given much thought to how you say hello. But studies of vocal attractiveness show that people form an immediate opinion of the other person’s personality with this simple greeting. So make sure your warmth comes through when you say hello the first time.

Use appropriate eye contact: Eye contact is one more way that people gauge the trustworthiness of others. If you are not sure how long to hold the other person’s gaze, look at their eyes long enough to register what color their eyes are. Eye contact is also critical if you are meeting online, so be sure to look at the other person on the screen, just as if you were meeting in person.

Engage in chitchat: You may think that small talk is a waste of time (and just want the conversation done and over with.) But small talk is important to the art of conversation; a few minutes chatting about the weather helps eliminate your own awkwardness before you ease into more serious topics. Chitchat also makes the other person feel comfortable (which will make you more likable.)

Ask questions: You may think that you should show strength and launch right into your discussion. But posing a question first allows the other person to have the floor—which helps them to feel understood. In the process, you learn something new about the other person, which helps to build the relationship. And remember to take turns and listen to what the other person is saying, instead of planning what you are going to say next.
It is true that first-time meetings can be awkward. But you will gain more confidence every time you take that opportunity to meet someone new.

Source: Brian Solis seeks business and wilderness adventure. He has been the founder or early employee of six cloud-based software companies and is the CEO of Aha!, one of the leading roadmap software products. His last two companies were acquired by Aruba Networks [ARUN] and Citrix [CTXS].