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How to Optimize your Professional Network

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Whether you are trying to enhance your business or bolster your professional status, optimizing your network will always be a vital role for your professional success. To do this, you have to understand that networking is very much a behind the scenes type of task. While you of course want to produce quality work at your office, connecting with people throughout a variety of businesses and departments will help establish the resources you need to thrive in the future.

Let’s begin by understand the concept of networking and what it can do for you professionally. When we talk about networking, especially within the workplace, we are talking about building relationships, sharing information, and leveraging sources of support. Oftentimes, people make the mistake of playing it safe and staying within their comfort zone bubble. While it can be intimidating to go beyond your comfort zone, you have to comprehending the importance of building your contacts. It is these individuals who can make the difference in getting you that much closer to your personal and professional goals.

So how do you do this?

There are a variety of ways to go about expanding your network. The most important thing you need to know is that you have to go into each meeting with the mentality of building and fostering a strong and viable relationship, regardless of their title. This type of outlook and mindset will help calm those jitters so that you can establish a rich and organic conversation. Below, I have provided some tips that highlight the best way to network yourself or your business in the most optimal manner.

Utilize your Immediate Resources

Start off by connecting within your company and organizations. This is what we call easy wins. Having these automatic channels will make those first few interactions smooth and seamless. As much as you can talk about the day-to-day operations of your workplace, you also want to go into that conversation with a goal in mind, especially if you are talking to an administrator or a partner. As you talk to them, make sure they have a deeper understanding of your objectives and goals for the company and for the future. In addition, discuss how you can aid and support them for future projects so that you can stay on their radar.

Connect with a Leader or Mentor who Shares your Goals

For many people, building a network starts with an overall end-goal. Some people do this to push their careers in a specific direction. Others do it for graduate school goals. Whatever is the case, try and utilize your own goals and ideas by connect with coworkers who share the same interest. Better yet, try and connect with those who have already succeeded with your career path. Their advice and insight of how to achieve your goal can help you alter or optimize your plans for the future. To do this effectively, start by simply listening. Pick their brains about how they got there and what they had to do to get to that particular position. Then try and internalize what steps you have made and what you can change to learn from their experience. If you can, try and utilize this person as a long-term resource. Many people in the professional field call them mentors. See if they have the time to help shape you in reaching your personal and professional goals.

Utilize your Alumni Network

Alumni chapters are a great platform in expanding your network outside of your own company. While some members may come from different fields and majors, try and utilize that group to its fullest. Engage with people you do not normally interact with. Share your interest, work profession, and goals. Who knows, they may have a friend or a coworker that can help you get to that next level.

Attend Professional Events

Because of how vital networking is to everyone’s career, you can oftentimes find various professional hosting events or happy hour sessions close to your location. To find them, start by searching online either through Google’s search results or through the professional networking site, LinkedIn. Similar to the information mentioned above, go into each even with your professional goals in mind. At the same time, do not be too serious. These events are more for you to mingle and converse. If you happen to find the right connection, be sure to provide them with a business card or your personal information.

 

Business 101: Corporate Company Culture

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Corporate company culture encompasses quite a few variables ranging from the physical office environment to the fun perks communicated through your colleagues and managers. With the world at a constant state of change and fluctuation, many companies and firms today are beginning to find that success is not simply dictated or based on the overall talent, but keeping the talent at the work place. Because of this, company culture or work culture has become a prevalent theme in many businesses. The antiquated sense of cutthroat business is no longer looked as the incentive of growing and developing individuals. Instead, young professionals, especially millennials, are looking for businesses and firms that value them as professionals and people.

For company culture, the most basic way to describe and define this concept is that it is the personality and character of an overall organization. In simpler terms, it is how the office operates internally and externally for all of their employees. We have all heard the horror stories of working at the big banking firms with the 80+ hour workweeks or the classic ‘three meals at your desk.’ While this may have been seen as a red badge of courage into the business work, this systemic approach has become more problematic, especially how the world works today.

Today, one of the biggest problems many companies are facing is the grand fluctuation of turnover at every level of the business. Current consultants are fed up with living their lives at an airport terminal. Bankers are sick of pulling the long hours for a fraction of the pay that their superiors are making. And entry level positions are seen as just a six-month ‘landing pit’ until something new or better comes along. While businesses can handle the change, they have to understand that the success and health of a company comes down to its workers. Financially, hiring a new individual has been stated to be more costly than firing or releasing a current employee due to time, money, and resources needed to train and develop the new individual into that position. To go further into that, more companies are seeing the black hole of negative company culture where businesses enter the vicious cycle of hiring, training, and losing their best talent.

So how do we improve this? What can be done to keep those number one seed picks at the frontline of your business?

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First, start of by being transparent with your employees. Allow them to understand your vision and goals for the business and why you need them to do each individual task. This type of honesty can set various goals for your employees and allow them to assume responsibility of their work. In addition, keeping your employees in the loop gives them a chance to see the business grow and thrive as a whole. Usually, many dissatisfied employees are uncomfortable voicing their opinions about the company and other unwelcoming situations. This honesty talk can allow those employees to open up and set a tone for the better.

Second thing you should do is to provide a sense of autonomy and freedom for your workers at the office. As much as you want to micromanage them when performing a task, you need to be the leader and empower them to take ownership of their work. Instead of providing explicit and detailed directions, provide them with general guidelines. You will see quickly how individuals will assume that leadership role for the better.

Thirdly, make sure there is a strong sense of communication throughout the office. Many people get frustrated at their company because of the lack of communication that is coming from one end of the company to the other. Establish the operational logistics at your work place and improve on what needs to be done. Remember, there is always room for improvement. The only way to do it is by testing things out.

Last but not least, provide company perks. Many of the modern day tech-titans have provided benefits other than financial options to keep their employees happy. Whether it is a trip to a basketball game or a company paid happy hour, try and bring happiness to your employees.

Millennials and their Impact on Company Culture

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“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In today’s world, the business and corporate sector are in a constant state of change and fluctuation where companies and firms are now beginning to find that success is not simply based on finding the most qualified talent, but keeping the talent in the work place. With that being said, company culture is more important than ever. For the first time in history, millennial have become the largest generational cohort in the United States workforce, with almost 54 million making up the labor force. With those staggering numbers, it is absolutely vital to take into consideration the mentality and mindset of these individuals.

To put it simply, company culture, often referred to ask work culture, is now the highest priority for both businesses and job seekers. Unlike the 80s boomers and notorious Wall Street warriors, the millennial generation does not look at 80+ hour workweeks as a red badge of courage. Instead they see it as a toxic environment only meant as a pit stop for something greater. When it comes down to the numbers, everyone knows that it is more expensive to hire a new employee than keeping and retraining an older one. That type of fact takes into consideration the time, money, and effort it takes to establish a strong and effective employee. But even with that fact, employers and businesses are struggling to keep their talent happy and in-house. But why is this? What is making these millennial constantly change jobs every two to three years?

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One of the biggest reasons is the lack of company culture. Company culture is often defined as the behavior of humans that encompasses the values, actions, and social norms that physically and psychologically represent the environment of an organization. To put it simply, a business’s culture attributes to its holistic and wholesome view where every employee and individual values, believes, and represents the vision and goals of its company. While some businesses still thrive on the negative and competitive antiquated style of a standard office, many however have changed their models and replicated a setting that inspires and stimulates their employees. Take for example Google and Apple. Their non-traditional approach to their employees and work setting in the early 90s has now taken a strong grasp of the ideal work place for 2016. This has even gone as far where recent college graduates are deferring offers from big banking and consulting firms and their financial packages to work for companies that give them that liberated freedom.

As much as people can criticize this somewhat work-movement, the world needs to understand that the change is meant for a reason. At the end of the day, company culture is the business’s personality. It is not something that forces people to work, but rather inspires them to reach their goals. Regardless of how the old ways use to do it, this give-and-take relationship asks businesses to recognize the value of their employees and acknowledge them for their hard work. In doing so, businesses have thrive at their financial goals and product expectations for the future. Remember, a company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation. As a business leader, it is your job to build that foundation and set a sustainable, competitive, and controlled environment for your company to grow and develop each and every day.

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The Six Ways to Live Like an Entrepreneur

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What it Means to Be an Entrepreneur

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Inside the Brain of an Entrepreneur

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Ted-X Talks: The Art of Entrepreneurship by Julie Meyer

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Elon Musk: The Mind Behind Tesla

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Improving Your Skills as an Entrepreneur

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Entrepreneurship is about resiliency. When owning your own business, many people quickly find that the dream of immediate success is nothing more but a fantasy. It’s like that saying goes, the only time success comes before work is in the dictionary. Regardless, you should not be inept to the fact that in any business, there will always be changes in the tides. Part of the entrepreneur’s effective strategy is to recognize these changes and know how to work through them in the most efficient and effective manner.

“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.”  

~Bernard Berenson

As a leader, it is vital that you remain open to new ideas. Ultimately it can be those innovative concepts that can lead you and your business to a more beneficial path. One great trait all successful entrepreneurs and business leaders have is that they are open-minded about change and innovation. Focusing on the old standard, especially the traditional and antiquated concepts of running a business could eventually plateau or worse stagnate your business growth into a lose-lose situation. When you analyze your business on a holistic level, look at it as a growing child. At times there are moments where you need to focus on the foundational accepts so that it can get its footing. But, in order for it to grow, changes need to be made.

So if you are an entrepreneur looking to freshen up your mindset and polish your business agility skills, here are a few tips on how you can continue to improve your skillset within the rat race of the private sector.

Stay in a State of Learning

Developing your entrepreneurial skills is not simply the practice, but the act of educating yourself on the trade of the business. Remember, knowledge is power. Always stay mindful that every industry is always growing and thriving each and every day. Because of this, it is imperative that you are in a mindset of a student with the willingness to learn. To do this, research what is currently trending in your field and what is not anymore. In addition, read up on various business books, entrepreneurship autobiographies, and current event news. This continuous learning will assure that you are up tot speed with all of the changes that is happening to you and your company.

Who are you Targeting?

Like any good business executive, knowing the marketing will play a key factor in your strategies and approaches during the beginning stages of your startup. Take your time to know your clients and cultivate integrity in your communication with them. Thriving businesses like Apple and Google did not start up by assuming what they knew was right. They used their ideas and concepts as a framework for what the public looks for in a purchase and service. Fostering this type of healthy persona will lead to satisfied and possibly longer lasting customers. Remember, your most unhappy customer is your greatest source of learning.

Be the Change

Great leaders dare to be different. They have the courage to make rash decisions that nobody else can bear to make. When it comes to those decisions or new ideas, challenge yourself. Take a risk. Elon Musk once said that, “if something is important enough, you should try it even if the probable outcome is a failure.” At certain points of an entrepreneur, you will be faced with various decisions asking you to go above and beyond the scope of your comfort zone. This could be a potential investment or an executive decision. Regardless of the situation, you want to be confident in every decision that you make even if it does end in failure. Do not let the idea of failure hold you back from making that change. Don’t see it as a mistake. See it rather as an opportunity for improvement.

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