The Forgotten Part Of Networking

friends-at-work

Your network is your net worth.

The assumption is networking is done “externally,” but what if you actually like your job and don’t want to leave, yet desire to expand your network?

Do it internally.

Similar to sales: return customers have a greater value than new customers.

That means co-workers you connect with and strengthen bonds over time can be more instrumental to your career success than grabbing coffee with a new contact on LinkedIn.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m that guy who connects with people locally on LinkedIn and grabs coffee, but those relationships take time to blossom.

Meanwhile your work relationships have the potential to grow much faster because of the frequency and ease of scheduling.

Too often job satisfaction is determined by what happens to you, not what you initiate. Some opportunities are all about timing, but others are about choice.

Once you understand the company culture figure out how you can connect with people at work: grab lunch, go for a walk, chat on Slack, etc.

Most likely there are too many people at your company to talk with consistently, but that only makes the challenge fun.

  • Be the person who asks others how they are doing.
  • Instead of going on break alone take a friend.
  • Make it a goal to grab lunch with someone weekly.

At my company we’re fortunate to have catered lunches twice a week so that leaves three open days for me.

Some days I make phone calls and other times I need to decompress alone, but imagine how fulfilling your day is with a stimulating conversation!

As an introvert/situational extrovert I prefer quality over quantity…

Making networking part of your lifestyle versus a goal starts by doing it consistently.

The trick isn’t to keep “score” on how many people are in your network, but how often you network with others.

Make it a habit and watch your work fulfillment level skyrocket!

The X-Factor For Employee Retention

x-factor

I admit I believe in work-life separation, but even an old dog can learn new tricks.

Being a corporate newbie (former FT entrepreneur) I can relate to that Scrubs episode where Dr. Kelso stepped one foot out the hospital and started whistling like he had no cares in the world.

Am I heartless? Far from it. But as I moonlighted as a contractor I walked into companies as a hired gun. I enjoyed getting to know people, but subconsciously I never mixed business with personal. It’s my way of keeping boundaries.

But now being an employee I’m starting to see things differently. I’ll never be that guy who grabs a drink after work with co-workers for 2 reasons: 1) I want to see my kids and wife as soon as work is over 2) I don’t drink. It’s not something I’m against, more so a different time in my life.

Yet what’s changed for me in the past month or so is my view towards friends at work. I’m completely fine with putting my head down, banging my work out and leaving unnoticed. But something happened along the way…

My role at work is to support our employees (online tutors). It happens over Zoom (video conferencing) weekly. Ironically I wasn’t taking the same approach to work relationships, but my shift in behavior has made me re-think work.

Maybe it’s the remote environment of the company I work for, but outside of compensation who you connect with at work is the X-factor of retention. This is a quality, not quantity issue. You can bond over work projects, but the natural foundation of a true friendship is built over common interests and reciprocity. Effort alone guarantees nothing, but without it you’ll get nowhere. The interest has to be mutual.

Honestly I’ll never be that guy who calls his work friends his best friends, but knowing there are more than a handful of people at my company I am interested in connecting with outside of work is a huge step in the right direction for me.

So where do you fall on the friends at work spectrum?

Why Startups Are Overrated

startup-life

Follow your passion. Chase your dreams.

Bad advice depending on your age/life stage.

The startup life is glorified from the outside, but those inside the ropes think differently.

Your corporate 9-5 job may suck the life out of you, but imagine working 40+ hours and getting paid less.

Think the grass is greener on the other side? Try turning grass over. It’s brown.

Similar to entrepreneurship and parenting, everything you see/read/learn doesn’t equate to first-hand experience.

Working for a startup is grueling. Long hours for little pay isn’t for everyone. Age/life stage should be your determining factor.

In your 20’s your career is most important, so working hard for something you believe in takes priority.

In your 30’s relationships (dating/marriage/family) are most important, so working hard to support your desired lifestyle take priority.

In your 40’s planning for retirement is most important, so working hard to secure your future takes priority.

Startups are ideal for people in their 20’s or younger. Fewer responsibilities means less concerns about work life balance.

Once you enter your 30’s boundaries become important. The difference lies in what you do after work: going to the bar with friends vs. going home to see your family.

There’s nothing wrong with chasing the American dream, but the better question to ask is: when are you chasing it?

Keeping Your Millennial Workforce Happy

Guest post by Faith MacAnas

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One of the key features of the millennial generation is their focus on job satisfaction and life fulfillment is a lot higher than their predecessors. Happier employees have a better and higher quality output; this has made the necessity for employee satisfaction strategies more important than ever. These following examples are just a few areas where adjustments can be made that will motivate your millennial workforce and optimize your business.

• Flexibility

For the first time, young workers are prioritizing their work-life balance over their paycheck. They want to be able to travel, balance their family and social life or pick up side projects. While full remote working conditions are inadvisable, providing some level of flexibility is a great tactic. This offer could come in the form of career breaks or simply the opportunity to work alternate hours from home on occasion.

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    Crisp Technology

Millennials have grown up at the forefront of technology; they have always had the latest editions and expect their technology to be in good working order. Companies that can’t afford the latest pieces now allow staff members to work on their own devices. While this can save money, it does also require ensuring the security of confidential company data on machines that will leave the office. You can guarantee protection by investing in a company-wide Virtual Private Network program for all staff members to use or by creating an internal system where work can be shared exclusively.

    Career Paths

Today’s young workers live in a shaky economy, and they know it. While they worry about the promise of work, they also will quickly jump ship if their jobs don’t appear to provide them with the opportunity to progress. Give your millennial workforce a voice; allow them input into innovation ideas and company policy. Ensure feedback channels are open, and offer opportunities for training courses or department transfers. Show that you are willing to invest in them, and they are much more likely to invest in you and your company.

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    Cash Incentives

If all else fails, then there’s one language everyone speaks: cash. Nothing gets motivation going like the promise of a bonus, and there are none who don’t relish the opportunity to make more money. However, there are both pros and cons to this strategy. If, for example, you set a goal for workers to achieve to secure the bonus, and they do not succeed, it’s possible to disenfranchise them further. It’s wise to set goals that are both realistic and progressive.

Millenials are some of most forward-thinking workers around today. They naturally possess crucial knowledge and hold to the key to the future. If you haven’t already implemented strategies to ensure you keep them motivated and dedicated, then now is the time to start doing so!

About the Author: Faith is a blogger and marketing and strategy expert. She specializes in internet security. She enjoys sharing what she’s learned with other business owners online.

My Achilles Heel As An Entrepreneur

employee-entrepreneur

5 years ago I tore my left Achilles tendon while playing basketball.

Like the stories I heard before, it felt like someone kicked my calf from behind.

When it happened it didn’t hurt, but I knew something was wrong. I remember grabbing my cars keys and limping to the car. It was a 6 month recovery to get back on the basketball court.

Post-recovery I’ve never been scared of re-injuring myself, but I’ve become much more in tune with my body. If my Achilles feels sore, I don’t push my body. I listen to it.

As an entrepreneur, I have a Achilles heel too.

Leaders create a “wake” of relationships built and tasks accomplished. What I realized is the one that means more to me determines the trajectory of my career.

I’ve had my business for almost 10 years now experiencing ups and downs financially. Starting out I was willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. It was my own startup that I was willing to work overtime for and be underpaid purely to build my “brand.”

But being married and 2 kids later my priorities changed. Time became the most important currency and I’d rather spend time with my family than always work hard. In work-life balance terms, I want a separation between the two.

I always believed working a full-time corporate job meant waving the white flag…settling. I did everything I could to avoid it, until about a month ago.

Reluctantly, I took a position at a tech startup because there was “no good reason not to.” Not exactly inspiring stuff, but the truth.

Fast forward to now, I realize it was the right decision.

The side of the wake that matters more to me is: relationships. If it were tasks, I believe I’d never take my current position because I would have already been rich.

What I realized is money is more important than people. Some say that, but my actions validate it.

The thought of a 9-6 was nauseating even a few months ago, but I started listening to my heart.

Not only am I enjoying the work I do (similar to the coaching I’ve been doing), but once I leave the office I leave my work there. That’s something I could never do as a business owner.

Do I still coach? Yes. But around my full-time job.

My Achilles heel as an entrepreneur is my love for connection. It’s much stronger than my desire to sell.

I still love to dream up and implement new ideas, but not at the cost of a steady paycheck and allowing my wife to stay at home with our kids.

I haven’t given up on entrepreneurship.

I just became more in tune with my desired lifestyle.

Work Life Balance Simplified To One Word

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Boundaries.

The only way to separate your personal from professional life is to define your boundaries.

Boundaries are hard to identify until someone crosses them.

The reason work-life feels like a blur is because you allow it.

As an employee it’s a constant tug-of-war with management. You have to draw a line between what they want and what they can legally expect of you.

If you’re an entrepreneur, no paycheck is guaranteed so you have to hustle more, but at what expense? Ask most business owners why they started their own company and most would answer with reasons other than money. But as your own boss, if you don’t draw the line, your boundaries will be abused.

Start defining what’s inside and outside of your boundaries. Stand up for what matters and what’s right.

In the end you have no one else to blame for work-life balance: except you.

Why Work Life Balance Is A Unicorn

unicorn

Work Life Balance is extinct.

Compartmentalization is so last year.

The concept used to be a Venn Diagram with the left circle representing your professional life, the right circle your personal life and the overlap the “balance.”

Now your life is just one big circle, a.k.a. Work Life Integration.

If you’re unhappy at work, you’re unhappy in life (and vice versa).

That doesn’t necessarily mean follow your passion (although nothing’s wrong with it). It means focus on your desired lifestyle and find a career to support it.

Job turnover isn’t just a Millennial thing. It’s reality moving forward.

Admit it. You’re most likely not going to work your current job for the rest of your lifetime (the benefits aren’t that great right?), so job-hopping becomes the norm.

Blame it on the following reasons: Boredom. Multi-Passionate. Uncertainty.

But the biggest reason: Life Stage.

If someone asks me how I feel about entrepreneurship now vs. when I started (almost 10 years ago) my response is: I’m married and have 2 kids.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love being my own boss anymore. It means my family is more important.

So using the lifestyle analogy, I’ll stick with being an entrepreneur as long as it supports me financially enough to control how much time I spend with my family.

Your career (and life too) goes through seasons of change.

Balance isn’t achieved by being proactive.

The tension between battling priorities in your life sharpens your choices.

Choose what’s most important to you based on the most valuable currency: time.

That’s no myth.

How Lifestyle Has Changed The Job Market Forever

lifestyle

Lifestyle matters.

Not only that, but it’s a driver. Let me explain.

Work-life balance isn’t achievable unless you start viewing your professional and personal life as one. If you’re unhappy at work, you’re going to be unhappy at home (same goes for vice-versa). Therefore the biggest “perk” you can receive is flexibility, also known as control of the way you spend your time.

Use Millennials as an example. One of their most treasured entities is travel. There’s not one particular destination that is preferred, instead work “book-ends” vacations.

Having kids may limit the frequency of trips, but the focus of time-off shifts to family. Ideally school and work schedules coincide to maximize time spent together. On the other hand, if you’re married to your career, you’re better off being single these days.

In both examples above there is one constant: lifestyle. As so beautifully stated in Flexibility: The New Definition of Success,  the meaning of work now is to: support your desired lifestyle.

Smart companies get this. You can give people all the perks in the world, but if they don’t have autonomy (otherwise known as trust), they’ll eventually leave to find it.

Lifestyle has even caused a seismic shift in entrepreneurship. Scaling, growth and more profit aren’t assumed goals anymore. More families are starting businesses simply to provide a means to survive together. The term lifestyle entrepreneur shouldn’t be looked down upon anymore because the rules of being an entrepreneur have changed.

In previous articles I cover remote working quite a bit because it supports the shift to lifestyle as a motivator. Just like company culture can be more important than landing your dream job, lifestyle is no longer a means to an end, but an end in itself.

 

How Working Remotely Benefits Your Health

Remote-working

Employing remote workers increases the pool of talent for your company. Telecommuting, once thought of as a perk, now levels the playing field.

Theoretically it can pose challenges to management but if done right, supervision shouldn’t vary much. At the heart of managing remote workers is trust. It is literally impossible to micromanage remotely, yet there’s the temptation to in person.

There are several books and online articles that cover managing a remote staff, but few address the benefits health-wise. Here are three ways:

1. Lack of germs – Experiencing the flu can make you a germaphobe, but in a shared workspace it’s almost impossible to avoid the common cold. Working remotely means you’re communicating virtually, but working independently. Not only does the lack of commute save time, but eliminating travel and interaction equates to less trips to the doctor annually.

2. Increased efficiency – Meetings are a waste of time, especially when they’re run poorly. Two brains are better than one, but distractions decrease performance rapidly. No matter how social of a person you are, working alone produces a much higher rate (and usually with less mistakes). With less scheduled interactions, more quality work gets done.

3. Self-leadership – Strip management from the room and there’s a fear of completed tasks. But shouldn’t you be motivated to get stuff done without someone breathing down your neck? As an entrepreneur, the first thing to go is structure when free from the corporate world. Your responsibility is to create order or risk wasting time. A hard lesson to learn initially, self-accountability means you can be trusted.

More and more companies choose to hire remote workers meaning new leadership practices must be implemented. Quality of lifestyle is becoming the most important factor professionally. The more you are informed about the benefits of working remotely, the easier the transition will be to make. Your body, mind and emotions will thank you for it later.

Why College Has Lost Its Mojo

lost-mojo

Someone recently asked me, “If you could go back and give yourself advice what would it be?

My response: drop out of college

With a perplexed reaction to my comment, I began to explain:

A college degree isn’t worth much anymore…just ask your next employer. Experience matters, where you got your degree from doesn’t. The sad reality is most college grads take a job outside of their major and spend the next 5 or so years working just to pay off student loans.

Also college doesn’t teach “real world” skills. I spoke to USC freshmen and sophomores in a career workshop before and said the 3 most important skills to learn in college are: networking, gaining experience (usually through an internship) and learning how to sell (product, services and yourself). Ironically, those tasks aren’t taught in college unless you take advantage of resources as a student.

Lastly, flexibility is the new definition of success. Money isn’t as valuable as controlling your time. Millennials are the most entrepreneurial generation because they want to make an impact and be happy doing it. Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Kevin Rose prove college isn’t for everyone.

Trade schools and incubators are on the rise because if you have an idea that can potentially make a lot of money, why put it towards an education that doesn’t translate to much? As a Bachelor’s & Master’s degree holder, I may sound like a hypocrite, but if I could do it all over again I’d pass college and jump directly into entrepreneurship.