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    I’d like to welcome a new person to the blog in today’s guest post! Angela has nearly 10 years of human resources and non-profit administration.  She has guided organizations in establishing policies that promote healthy and effective workplaces, which has included policy and by-laws writing, facilitating organizational mergers, and assisting with some start-up nonprofits.  To back it all up, she has been a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) since 2008.  A seasoned recruiter, she has led and served on several executive-level search committees and advises college students on job searching techniques.  You can find her writing at A Working Evolution, DailyMuse.com, and Forbes.com.  In her spare time, she dreams of running away to Paris to study pastry-making.

     

    Click on the picture to see Angela's final version of my resume.

    Sometimes, no matter how many blogs you read or how much thought you put into it, you still need a tangible example to really get a sense for something. With that in mind, Ashley let me use her resume as a guinea pig. We are hoping to use this as an opportunity to give you some insight into how a recruiter looks at a resume and what impressions are left.

     

    My initial reaction from the resume was that Ashley is a professional. The resume was simple, clean and organized, and that in itself speaks volumes. The body of her resume used bullet points to highlight her accomplishments, as opposed to writing a paragraph. This makes it easier to read, easier to process and looks cleaner.

    To break down my thoughts a bit more specifically:

    Formatting. Because of Ashley’s extensive experience, I found the formatting to be a bit too simple. Some of her accomplishments were getting lost in a world of text. So I highlighted her most impressive accomplishments by drawing them out on their own.

    Summary Statement. My problem with summary statements is that they are relied upon too often to convey skills that belong within the body of your resume. It’s not as bad as a functional resume, but the end result is the same: a vague set of skills without context. In Ashley’s case, there is also redundancy – she refers to public speaking, presentations, brand management and several other things in her summary statement, and they are also sprinkled throughout the body of the resume. I’d rather see these things strongly conveyed within the resume as opposed to skimmed over in a summary statement.

    Employment. As I said above, this section confused me. It felt redundant and unnecessary. Ashley has already listed where she worked, and when she worked for them, so there is no use to having this all listed again.

    Education. I love that Ashley included her current education on the resume, even though she hasn’t received her MBA yet. However, she highlighted the name of the school as more important than her degree by listing it first and making it bold. Where someone attended school is rarely of concern to me; what degree they received and what honors they earned while attending is always important, so make that stand out.

    Activities. This is where I may differ from some of my colleagues. I know that some people will recommend that you include an “Activities” or “Interests” section on your resume, because it will give it a personal touch. I’m not one of them. When I’m looking at a resume, it’s completely business. The personal part comes in when you’re sitting in my office for an interview. A good alternative is to have a section called “Skills” or “Professional Accomplishments,” which I did in Ashley’s case.

    Content. The actual body and substance of the resume was strong. Ashley used clear and compelling language. For the most part, she used strong action verbs to describe her experience and accomplishments. This is a great example of highlighting your accomplishments, as opposed to merely rehashing your job description. Instead of saying “Responsible for growing affiliate partnership,” Ashley wrote “Grew affiliate partnerships from 2 to over 50 within 8 months.” This tells the employer not only what Ashley was responsible for, but also that she was successful at it in a relatively short period of time.

    Overall, Ashley’s resume was quite strong, and well-executed. Despite that, however, there were still things that I found that could be enhanced. I want to be clear that these are my opinions only – obviously I don’t speak for all recruiters and hiring managers, and my recommendations for resumes may differ from what others will think.

    And that’s completely ok. The goal is to get you to start the conversation and look at your resume in a new light. You might conclude that your current resume is what works for you. But give it some thought, have someone else take a look at it, and make sure that it’s the best it can be.

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    This post doesn’t really apply to the majority of my readers, but after several conversations with fellow class mates, I figured I’d post up a list of recommended professors to point them to for summer/fall session planning. So, here’s my list of great professors in my program thus far:

    Prof. Richard Bowen (ACCT 6202): I had Prof. Bowen for Managerial Accounting, and I thought he did an excellent job with organization, time management, and applicability. He explained the concepts with clarity, and his examples and test questions seemed like reasonable situations for managers to face. He didn’t try to “trick” us, but gave us challenging problems to illustrate the material. He also has first-hand insight into the Sarbanes-Oxley ramifications and the whistle-blower laws, which he’ll share with the class if you ask him. And, for an accountant, he’s actually a pretty humorous fellow, so the 4 hour class doesn’t seem so ridiculously long and boring.

    Prof. Abhijit Biswas (MKT 6310): I took Consumer Behavior with Prof. Biswas during my first semester as an MBA student, and his class made me excited to be a grad student! He presents thought-provoking case studies and interesting statistics, and he makes everyone question their own behavior as a consumer. He reaches across a number of marketing fundamentals to show how each is relevant to consumer behavior, and he opens engaging class discussions. Every student that takes one of his classes recommends him and chooses to take him again. He teaches classes on all areas of marketing, and makes himself available to students for career advice, marketing ideas, and generally lending his wisdom to his students. He’s passionate about his subject, and his passion is contagious when he teaches. Most students find his exams to be pretty difficult, because he  requires you to remember a lot of details from the material.

    Dr. John Wiorkowski (OPRE 6301): Dr. Wiorkowski is a great statistics professor! He made stats applicable to a variety of functional business areas, and used applicable scenarios. I liked that he understood that we needed a managerial base for stats, not a theory or PhD approach. Sometimes stats professors get so caught up in their own expertise, they forget that we don’t know (and for most of us, don’t care) what they’re talking about! Dr. Wiorkowski makes the material approachable and relevant, and he explains each concept in a logical, understandable manner. He also has some hilarious quotes, and keeps class pretty entertaining for a stats professor. His bow tie is his signature, so if you can’t remember his name, just look for the guy with bow tie!

    Dr. Tracey Rockett (OB 6331): I took this Power and Politics class online, and I wish I’d had it in person. It’s a discussion-oriented class, so facilitation is much easier face to face. However, the information is sound, and Dr. Rockett presents some thought-provoking scenarios. The lectures, readings, and discussion boards were well-organized, and I enjoyed the articles and book requirements for this class.

    Dr. Laurie Ziegler (OB 6332): Dr. Z is a passionate professor with a lot of interesting perspectives to offer. Her Negotiation and Dispute Resolution class focuses heavily on role playing and discussion, so I would recommend taking it in person. Her class forces you to take a look at your own biases and strategies when negotiating, and she keeps class lively with her own stories and discussion questions.

    Prof. Scott Sanderson (FIN 6301): Prof. Sanderson is an excellent finance professor. He’s an adjunct, currently working in the real world, so he brings practical knowledge and scenarios into his examples. He does an excellent job explaining the historical and cultural significance of many of the concepts, so you understand why things are done, not just how. He uses several different types of examples to demonstrate the use of equations and logic, and he clearly explains a lot of complex ideas. His exams are straight-forward, and he keeps you until the end of class. He makes himself available to answer questions, and he genuinely wants his students to succeed.

    Though some of the subject matter is not my favorite, I appreciate professors that use examples and test questions that we might actually face in a managerial situation. If you have the opportunity to take a class with any of the above professors, you won’t be disappointed!

     

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    I wrote a post on “Perpetuating the In Group”, and a classmate of mine picked up on a particular line that highlighted my bias. I stated in the post that I have more in common with young professionals than I do with stay-at-home-moms, and she noted that she has several SAHM acquaintances with MBAs from fancy schools, or former VPs of Fortune 500 companies. However, these women have left the workforce to care for their kids.

    This is interesting, because there’s a lot of articles that talk about the cost of childcare vs. a salary, and women making a choice to stay home. My gut reaction to my classmate’s anecdote is that it’s a perfect example of how perpetuating the in group can cause you to miss out on knowledge, perspective, and connections. Upon further reflection, my reaction was that we don’t have much in common, because I would never leave the workforce. But, peeling back another layer, I can’t say how I would react to having children, since I don’t have any children at the moment. How do I know I would never leave the workforce? How do I know that just because these women left formal, paid positions at large companies, they aren’t keeping their skills sharp by volunteering, freelancing, or working on higher degrees? The answer is, I don’t. I don’t know their motivation for leaving the workforce… maybe that was their plan all along. And if that was their plan, maybe we’re more similar than I thought. I’m a planner, and I’ve taken strategic steps to set my life on a certain path. Just because that path doesn’t lead to the same destination as these women doesn’t mean that we’re all that different in terms of intelligence, ambition, and earning power.

    It’s really interesting to dig into what you personally think makes someone “like you”. But, once you realize that you’ve still got a lot of underlying assumptions, you’ve got to figure out a way to overcome the bias. I’d say a few probing questions would be a great first step… you might realize you have more in common than you think!

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    Well, readers, it’s that time of year… the end of the semester countdown! Although, I’ll be completing 9 hours of class this summer, so my countdown-to-summer also doubles as my countdown-to-school-starting :) However, I will be taking a vacation on my “summer break”, so my posting schedule will be pretty sporadic through the end of May. I’ve scheduled a few wonderful guest posters, but if you have a topic you’d like to share, send me a note, and we can try to set something up!

    I took 9 hours of class this semester, including two OB classes and a finance class. I’ve got a final in my Negotiation and Dispute Resolution class, and a finance final. I started studying for the finance final last night, and it’s going to be a brutal few days of prep work. I just don’t. like. finance. at. all. I’m literally trying to find any excuse to procrastinate on my study time, including cleaning! You know it’s bad when I’d rather clean than study. However, I buckled down and started working my way through practice problems, and I feel confident that I can solidify my B in that class.

    Now for the fun part: VACATION! A friend from college is getting married in El Paso at the end of May, so my husband and I decided to turn the drive into a road trip around Texas. We’ll be hiking, camping, and staying in remote hotels for about 10 days. My husband has been itching to go to Big Bend National Park, but the ~14 hour drive has been a huge deterrent. However, we’ll be spending a few days there during this road trip. The plan is to spend a night or two at Pedernales Falls, San Antonio, Big Bend, and Monahans. I’m pretty excited to get away for a while, as I think I’m starting to approach the burn-out point!

    So, please pardon the odd posting schedule while I conquer finals and attempt to conquer relaxation (note that I’m not a failure at many things, but relaxation is on the list of perpetual failures!). Get excited for a few new voices through the end of May, and I’ll be back in action regularly in June.

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    How does a "real" business person dress? Do I look like a "real" marketer?

    Skirt: JC Penney

    Tank top: NY & Co.

    Cardigan: Target

    Heels: Sam & Libby via DSW

    Like the outfit? Click here for more details!

     

    I talked about motivation in yesterday’s post, and I’ve been thinking about another topic that coincides with motivation, “being” vs. “acting”. Remember when you were little, and you played house, played teenager (don’t lie, you know you pretended to be in high school when you were 6!), or played cops? When I was younger, my CPA father had to work on Saturdays during tax season, and he’d take us to his office sometimes. He’d give us pens and post-it notes, and, no kidding, we’d play business (yes, I was that nerdy). I played business at my grandmother’s house too, with a box of blank payroll checks for a defunct business and her fancy clip-on earrings and purses. My brother and I would take turns owning the business, and I’d stuff a bunch of checks into my Granny’s purse, clip on those earrings like I was ready for the office, and strut down the hall to the back bedroom, where I’d wave my hands around telling everyone to get to work. Man, I was AWESOME at imaginary business!

    The funny thing is, I really do business now. I really slip on my high heels, really go to an office, and really approve invoices. And yet, sometimes it still feels like I’m playing business, like everyone will eventually find out that I’m just a little kid in my grandmother’s clip-on earrings, or scribbling on post-it notes on the floor of my dad’s office. There’s a frequently-used name for this phenomenon, imposter syndrome. Essentially, you feel like you’re lying about your skills or intelligence, being the ultimate pretender in your professional abilities, and eventually, the truth will come out that in fact, you have no idea what you’re doing. It’s not just early career people that feel this, it’s high-powered lawyers, doctors, and professors.

    This concept of “playing” at something goes back to my initial thoughts of “being” vs. “acting”, and the motivation for actors. Are you ACTING like a business person would act, or are you BEING a business person? Are you imitating what you think business people should do, or are you taking actions that a business person would take because they make strategic sense? What makes it a “real” business look, decision, or action anyways? I have this vision of an actual business person in a black, pinstripe suit, briefcase in hand, clicking along a marble hallway with large glass windows, on their way to an important presentation to the board. Does this mean that I’m not a real business person in the outfit with color? Am I just pretending to be a marketer if I don’t carry a briefcase? What, exactly, indicates that I’m being a business person, and not just acting like a business person? I think it’s the motivation. I don’t want to imitate business behavior simply because I think that’s what business looks like. It’s part of the reason that Silicon Valley start-ups have non-existent dress codes: they believe business is about DOING business, not playing the part of a business person by dressing up in fancy clothes and waving around worthless checks.

    Are you playing business, or doing business? Are you acting like a business person, or being a business person? Are you an imposter, or a smart, driven, no-holds-barred force in the business world? Like the outfit? Click here for more details!

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    Today’s post is the result of a psychological rabbit hole, inspired by my recent director-ish stint for the children’s musical at my church. The head director asked me to come in and work with the small cast of kids that had speaking parts during the show, and I learned a lot about motivation while working with the kids.

    First, working with non-experts really makes you think about your own skill set. I’ve been doing stage work for most of my life, and studied it formally for a year in college, so I know a thing or two about acting. But, 3rd-5th grade kids are a different ballgame. They require detailed direction for any movement (called “blocking” in the theater world) or interaction on stage (usually something like “character development” in the theater world). Thus, when I am about to move toward another actor, extend my hand to an actor, or walk across the stage, I usually try to think of a good reason why I’m doing that. Kids do these same actions “because I said so”. But in reality, “because I said so” is a terrible reason to do something on stage! Kinda similar to life and business, eh?

    Take, for example, the motivation behind having one of the kids bend down to tie his shoe. It’s pretty obvious on the surface, because there’s a line that states, “Hey kid, stand up” in the script. Thus, for the kid to stand up, he must be doing something other than standing immediately prior to that line. Ah, we’ll have him bend down! Ok, why is he bending down… we can’t just tell him to bend down for no good reason (the line isn’t a strong enough reason, it’s akin to “because I said so”). AH, we’ll make him tie his shoe, it’s a perfect reason for a kid to be bending down! So, we tell the child actor to pretend to tie his shoe, so that the next line makes sense. He then proceeds to mime tying his shoe, which looks silly, because there’s no motivation for him to take this action, as his shoe is not untied. So, down the rabbit hole, why would he bend down to tie his shoe if it’s not untied? By this stage, I’ve made up a whole scenario about how his shoe frequently comes untied, he looks down and notices that it is about to come untied, so he bends down to preempt the untied shoelace by knotting it firmly, and now he’s bending down to knot his shoelace when he’s asked to stand up. Now, it makes sense, falls into place, and looks natural, right?  I’ve drilled down to the motivation behind the motivation.

    This same logic applies to our academic pursuits and corporate ascent. Think about it: what’s your motivation for doing well in school? Getting a good job. What’s your motivation for getting a good job? Making lots of money. And your motivation for making lots of money? Financial security and material goods. And the motivation for those two things? Freedom and happiness. There it is! So, if freedom and happiness are the motivation for the motivation, how do we know that the actions resulting from the motivation are correct?

    Now we’ve gone down the rabbit hole of factors for life satisfaction, and what we’ve been primed to believe. For most people, a solid day’s work with measurable results will bring a feeling of accomplishment, and a hearty meal will complete the feeling of satisfaction. The definition of a”solid day’s work” and “measurable results” are points of debate, but the underlying desire for success is pretty concrete. I guess I’m just in the mood to contemplate the meta motivation today. Are you just getting more credentials because someone told you to? Are you going in to work everyday because there’s a line in some imaginary life script that says, “Ashley went into work at 8:03 am”, and you need to make that line make sense? Just like the kids, we sometimes start doing exactly what we’re told, when in fact, it makes no sense until we drill down to the very bottom.

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    We  recently discussed personal branding in one of my OB classes, and ways that your online presence can add or detract from your personal brand. There were a lot of questions about blogging, from how to get started, to the benefits or headaches of having a blog. I had one in-depth conversation about starting a blog, and I figured it would be helpful for anyone else that is considering a blog. So, here’s a few questions and tips to consider if you wanna start a blog:

     

    What’s your goal? First, what are you trying to accomplish by starting a blog? Are you trying to position yourself as an expert in your field? Catalog your thoughts, phases of a specific project, or stages in life? Are you trying to help people with your expertise? The goal of the blog will drive the content, posting schedule, and tone, so you want the goal to be fairly broad. You also want to make sure it’s adaptable to different platforms and styles. This part of the principle comes from the book, “Built to Last”, which discusses how great companies use a flexible goal to keep pace with changing times. Google’s goal wasn’t “control the internet”, it was “compile and deliver information”, which means that if search engines become obsolete, Google won’t stray from its mission about information by moving to a new platform. Similarly, “position myself as an expert” is a much better goal than “write 800 words per day about the subject of pricing in retail markets”.

    What kind of format? Sometimes a traditional “blog” format is not the best way to deliver your content. If you’re looking to help people by sharing your expertise, “how-to” archives might be a better fit than a daily or weekly blog post. If you’re looking to exchange ideas with people in your industry, a forum might best meet the needs. It’s wise to consider whether you intend to post regularly on an ever-changing topic, post static information on standard best practices, or respond to reader questions and comments. Many of these methods co-mingle, so you don’t have to pick just one. However, you need to consider each format and plan your approach for content delivery.

    What’s the perspective? Are you planning to post anonymously, under a pseudonym, or under your real name? Do you plan to discuss personal, professional, or mixed topics? These questions are directly linked to the goal and format of the blog, but the answers can change over time. Many bloggers have started out as anonymous posters discussing professional topics, but eventually outed themselves as the owner of the blog. Others started posting professional topics, but later wove in personal stories. There’s no right or wrong answer, but you need to decide on the tone of the blog before you get started.

    What’s the posting schedule? One of my biggest mistakes when I started my blog, was not considering a posting schedule. I figured I would just post whenever something popped into my head, and as a result, sometimes I had 1 post per month, and sometimes I had 20 posts per month. Your goal and the type of content you choose will drive your posting schedule. If you’re posting on a subject matter with very little change or new information, it will be pretty difficult to come up with new material for daily or weekly posts. Again, there’s no “correct” posting schedule, but it’s best to set expectations for your readers. Should they plan to stop by every day? Can they ignore you for 3 months and then show up to one new article?

    Prepare for launch. I also made the mistake of launching my blog with no material! I hit the “go live” button, and then let it sit for a few days with no articles, no links, nothing besides my “hello world” post. This is a bad idea, particularly if you start publicizing your blog immediately. I highly recommend creating at least a month’s worth of content, and posting a few days’ worth of content before telling the world that you have a blog. Also, how are you planning to tell the world you have a blog? Are you intending to link to on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? Is it going to become a line on your resume? Are you planning to use word-of-mouth for publicity? The amount of content and type of publicity prior to launch will be driven by your goal, format, and posting schedule, as determined above.

     

    I jumped into the deep end when I started my blog, and I didn’t really consider ANY of the questions or tips that I presented above. Because I was wandering aimlessly, it took about a year for me to gain any traction in readership and brand-building. There’s no right or wrong way to answer any of these questions, but if you wanna start a blog, I highly recommend taking the time to consider each question in detail!

     

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    This post might be a little bit controversial, but I’m going to throw it out there, since it’s been on my mind for a few weeks. I’m completing another Organizational Behavior (OB) class, and we often discuss concepts around forming groups and behavior within those groups. There’s a concept of an “in” group and an “out” group, “we” vs. “them”, “us” vs. “the other”. These concepts have been particularly applicable lately, as I’ve been reading a lot of articles about the pay gap, the ‘ole boys’ club, and disputes between minority groups and majority groups.

    From the articles around the web, it seems that many people feel that the ‘ole boys’ club continues because men are intentionally sexist and exclusionary, and that women aren’t fighting hard enough to break down the walls to force their way into the network. I sometimes fall into this hyped-up mentality that often incites sensationalism, instead of an honest look at a problem, and a plan of action to come to a solution. But then, once in a while, my own bias hits me square in the face, and I realize that in general, things keep going the way they’ve always gone simply because of human nature.

    Take my MBA classmates, for example. I had the good fortune to work with an excellent group in my OB class, and I would love to work with them again. I would also love to be introduced to people that they would want to work with again, because I trust their word. I commented that I wanted to host a casual networking party toward the end of the summer, and extend it to them, and any of their classmates or contacts that they’d like to invite. The goal is to trade professor recommendations, find good group members for future semesters, and ultimately, build relationships with people that can help you on your ascent up the corporate ladder. This is how networks form: I picked people “like me”, and they will in turn introduce me to people “like them” (and, good ‘ole math, if a=b, and b=c, then a=c… there’s a proper name for that, but I haven’t used it since freshman year of high school!).

    It’s interesting, because on the surface, the people “like me” are actually a pretty diverse group. In my group this semester, there’s males and females from several different cultural backgrounds, including China, Haiti, and Chile, a few white males, and a few white females. Groups from past semesters include males and females from several other countries and cultures around the world, so this networking party would be a nice rainbow. However, our backgrounds are very similar. We all grew up with the expectation of going to college, and many, with the expectation of attending graduate school. We all work in nice offices, wearing nice clothes, and we go home to a nice neighborhood, to nice spouses with good jobs. We all speak fluent English, and we all behave according to American norms. Despite a wide array of cultural norms in our personal lives, we do business like Americans.

    Quite frankly, it’s just easier that way. When we say “business formal”, we all know what that means. When we say “standard presentation”, we all know what that means. When we divide the work load for a project, we know what “deadline” means. It’s just easier to work with people who are like you, so you end up gravitating toward them, and perpetuating the “in group”. At least in my circle, we’ve moved past skin color and gender issues, but we use education and money as the new barrier. Again, not intentionally, but because it’s just the path of least resistance. I don’t know that this is necessarily wrong, either, since some of it has to do with life stages as well. I relate better to people who are in graduate school or a business environment, just like I relate better to young married professionals than a stay-at-home mom.

    The concern is that the “in group” never gives anyone else a chance to break in, even though they may be perfectly suited to join the group. It’s most dangerous when the bias is not obvious, like the group I described in my case. We look diverse and inclusive on the surface, but we’ve got some pretty strong bias in the group. Would we be willing to invite someone with little or no work experience to the networking party? Probably not. Would we be willing to invite someone that isn’t pursuing graduate studies? Pretty unlikely. Then again, Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard, and Google started in a garage. Granted, everyone in the world isn’t a college-drop-out-turned-billionaire, but there are definitely smart, capable, well-connected people that don’t fit “our” criteria. And thus, the same network trends continue, and business as usual goes on. This is also problematic because we live in a globalized society, with a worldwide economy. I like to think I’m open-minded about different business customs and I love exploring other cultures. I rarely examine my own bias when it comes to business interactions, because I believe I don’t have any. This is a false sense of security, and though uncomfortable, it’s necessary to understand the judgements and preconceived notions I have about people with different backgrounds.

    I don’t have any concrete solutions for breaking down the “in group” mentality, but I believe it starts with brutal honesty within ourselves. I’ve taken the time to understand a situation with my networking prospects, and I’ve been considering the consequences of my actions. Have you recognized a time when you perpetuated the “in group” mentality? Is there a person that might not fit the criteria, but could bring valuable insight, connections, or perspective to a situation?

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    Can we just talk about how much I enjoy giving presentations and public speaking? It’s just fun for me, it really energizes me, and I am generally in a great mood after a successful presentation. I know a lot of people hate standing in front of a large group of people to talk about things, with all eyes focused on them, but I live for these moments in business and academia. I had a presentation last week, and if I do say so myself, we kicked butt. So, how did we go about kicking butt and having a class session that made me happy in my soul?

    It starts with the subject matter. Our professor gave us free reign over the subject of the presentation, so doing the research was challenging, engaging, and I’ll go ahead and say it: FUN. Thus, when we stood up to present our findings, we were having fun. I know we don’t always have the luxury of choosing the subject matter and the medium to present, but there’s always an interesting angle, a new statistic, or a new way to make the material applicable to your audience. What gets your juices flowing? It’s much easier to excite and engage the audience if you’re excited and engaged about the material.

    We looked the part. I’ve been very surprised at the number of students that show up for a scheduled biggest-project-of-the-semester presentation in jeans and a t-shirt! This is not professional, and I don’t care how great you are at speaking, you lose a few credibility points if you don’t look the part. My entire group showed up in business formal attire, and we looked sharp. Standing up together in a suit and tie or a well-tailored sheath dress immediately set us apart. The professor commented that we all looked nice, and several students noted that we looked so professional. I don’t completely agree that clothes make the man, but I would argue that clothes can definitely break a man in situations that call for a commanding, authoritative presence.

    We were practiced and prepared. This sounds like common sense, but it goes beyond just having a group meeting to run through the important points and hand-offs. All of us are seasoned presenters, and we’ve examined our own presentation style with face-to-face criticism, web cams, and mirrors. You might think this is overkill, but you don’t get great presentations by accident. I hate vocal fillers (the ahhs, umms, and uhhhs that punctuate presentations), so I’ve made a point to cut those out. During undergrad, I asked a fellow classmate to count the number of times I uttered a vocal filler. He asked me to give him honest feedback after his presentation as well, and we both honed our skills. So, in addition to the “who’s doing what” conversation, practice alone, and get brutally honest. Watch tapes or look in the mirror… you might be surprised at what you see.

    I enjoyed working with this group on this presentation because we had great synergy and work ethic. Everyone did their part, and everyone came to the table prepared and professional. Then we stood up and nailed our presentation. Man, it’s a great high :)

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    Ah, sales people, so much blog inspiration from these calls! In theory, the marketing department works with the sales team to create wonderful synergy, and everyone makes money… in practice, that’s not always the case. Since I know a little about how this whole sales game works, I try to help the sales reps out from other companies. Namely, I try to help them out by telling them “no”. No, it doesn’t sound like your product is a fit. No, I don’t need you to send additional information. No, I will not make a purchase from you, so instead of wasting your time on me, go find a more profitable customer. Sigh… and then you have the sales reps that just. won’t. give. up. Even after I’ve been helpful in letting them know I’ll never be a good customer! I’ll nickel and dime you, pay you after the 30 days, and make myself hard to reach. Trust me, YOU DON’T WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH ME, SO JUST MOVE ON!

    I had an interaction with a particularly persistent rep. He says he’s not pushy, but I’ve told him some version of “no” three different times, and he just keeps on callin’ me. Today’s interaction went like this:

     

    Rep: I wanted to follow up on last week’s call. Did you talk to your VP about my proposal?

    Me: Yes, and as I said last week, I really don’t think your product is a fit for us. I appreciate the offer of a free trial, but it’s really not what we’re looking for.

    Rep: I just need one shot to prove to you that it works. Just do the free trial, and I promise I can show value.

    Me: Well, as I mentioned previously, we normally set our budget in October or November, so we don’t have the budget this year. It doesn’t make sense to do a free trial for a product that I know I don’t have the money to purchase, particularly when it’s not a good fit for us. We take a survey of our customers every year, and this survey is used to help allocate the budget. Our surveys have shown that your product is not a good fit, so unless we see the tide change in this year’s survey, we won’t include the purchase in the budget. If you’d like to send over a media kit in October, I can re-evaluate the fit for the 2013 budget.

    Rep: What’s going to change between now and October, honestly? It sounds like you just don’t want to put the time into it right now.

    Me: If I don’t have the budget for the product, and I don’t believe it’s a good fit for our needs, it doesn’t make sense to do a free trial right now. I’m happy to re-evaluate it for 2013, but we won’t be making a purchase right now.

    Rep: Are you even the decision-maker? What’s your title? Who gets to decide on this? Can you just shoot straight with me?

    Me: There are several decision-makers, but let me tell how this will go: I’ll ask them again, they will tell me “no” or indefinitely delay the decision, which translates to “no”. Thus, I’ll keep telling you “no” or indefinitely delaying the decision, which translates to “no”. You’re welcome to send a proposal when we evaluate the budget for 2013, but at this time, I can tell you that we won’t be moving forward.

    Rep: Ok, so if I call the VP of Sales and get his blessing, you’ll find time to do the free trial?

    Me: The VP of Sales travels frequently, and he doesn’t believe it’s a good fit. You can try to reach him, but at this time, we won’t be moving forward.

    Rep: Ok, thanks, I’ll try to call him. I just need one shot to convince you that I can provide value. I’m not one of those pushy sales types, so if you do the trial and it doesn’t make money for you, I’ll get out of your hair.

    Me: Ok, good-bye.

     

    Dude, you ARE a pushy sales type! I’ve told you “no” three times! I’ve also told you the timeframe that if it was ever going to move to yes (which it won’t), it would not be until 2013. I must admit that this guy did a few things well: he uncovered the timeframe for a decision, and he uncovered the decision-maker. What he failed to realize is that even though I’m “only” a gatekeeper, my bosses rely on what I tell them. So, my answer is essentially the same answer as the decision-maker, because they’ll ask me if his product provides value, I’ll tell them that I don’t recommend it, and they’ll tell me that we won’t make the purchase. Until you convince me of the value, you’re not getting a shot at the “real” decision-makers!

    I’m fine with a phone call and a persistent sales rep, but this guy started rub me the wrong way. I think he could tell that I was getting annoyed, because he tried to switch to a more friendly subject… my accent. Funny story, most people I meet say that I don’t have an accent, and since this guy knows I work in the Dallas office, it’s a good bet that the hint of a southern accent that he detects probably indicates that I’m from Texas. And, after a 5 minute pushy phone call, calling out my accent doesn’t do this guy any favors.

    Maybe I should be rude more often, but I feel like it’s common courtesy to politely tell a sales rep “no”. I hate watching our sales guys visit, call, and waste time on a customer that will never give us business, so I try to make sure other reps know when we won’t be making a purchase. What do you think, readers? Was this guy pushy or persistent? Was I unclear in my message about not making a purchase for at least 8 months (but really, never)?

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