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Archive for April, 2010

On Boarding – Questions to Ask During the Learning Plan

Posted by lyndabell on April 29, 2010

Getting off on the right foot is crucial for new employees.  Many resources exist to help you get started right.  I have found The First 90 Days and YOU’RE IN CHARGE – NOW WHAT to be two of the most useful books on the process of on-boarding. 

If reading books is not enough for you and successful on boarding is critical in  your next role, consider seeking the advice of a career coach.  I had the good fortune to connect with Barbara Blake of Longview Associates during my job search.  Through thoughtful coaching Barbara has helped me prepare for the on boarding process.

In addition to Barbara’s coaching, I have put together a document combined from information in the two books previously mentioned.  This document is a quick reference of questions I plan to ask  during the informational interviews I will be holding with internal and external stakeholders during my first 90 day learning plan.

I  have posted the complete document on my Blog for your reference – I hope you find something that will help you in your own on boarding process.

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Building a Network

Posted by lyndabell on April 17, 2010

For people actively engaged in career transition or job search or actively working to build a business or sales leads, the value of a network is generally understood.  However, I have recently discovered that understanding of a need does not necessarily translate into action for meeting the need.

An example:  A friend of mine recently pointed out that when he meets someone frustrated by the results of their job search, the first thing he does is ask them how many connections they have on LinkedIn.  He further inquires about the particular groups and number of groups they participate in on LinkedIn.  He shared with me that he often finds those people disappointed in the results of their job search are often not connected to others individually or through groups.

After he shared his technique with me, I began to use his methodology and test his findings.  Interestingly, I uncovered similar results. 

I believe his advice is relevant not just for job seekers or those in career transition.  It is equally useful for those who are selling their services or promoting their business. 

Test yourself.  Are you participating in informational meetings with others?  Do you participate in associations and meetings outside your place of business?  When you do either of these, are you making connections with others and seeking actions you can take to help them?  Have you built a network through LinkedIn or some other social media site?  If you haven’t, what’s stopping you?

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How Can Toastmasters Help You

Posted by lyndabell on April 4, 2010

If you are not familiar with Toastmasters, the following mission statement says it all.

The mission of the Toastmasters Club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.

Toastmasters offers skill building in several areas; communication, leadership and social networks

In the area of communication, the learning opportunities include public speaking though prepared speeches, impromptu speaking and evaluations

  • The prepared speeches are what Toastmaster’s is most known for.  Club members have the opportunity to develop public speaking skills by giving 5 to 7 minute prepared speeches.  Toastmasters members typically do not use props or slides in their presentations.  The challenge is to deliver a speech within a set timeframe, using proper grammar, no filler words and minimal notes.  Prepared speeches are evaluated by another member of the club.  The evaluations are a unique feature of a Toastmasters Club.  Evaluations are delivered to encourage the speaker and develop self-confidence, however they are also delivered to provide actionable feedback for improvement. 
  • The impromptu speeches are opportunities for Toastmasters members to learn to think on their feet and deliver a speech with no prior preparation.  Impromptu speeches are from 1 to 2 minutes in length.  Speakers are given a topic and asked to speak on that topic with no preparation.  I am sure you can think of many times in your personal or professional life when you have had to speak with little or no notice.  Examples include giving the toast at dinner, speaking during a retirement party, riding in the elevator with a senior manager or sharing your opinion during a meeting.  If impromptu speaking situations make you uncomfortable Toastmasters will definitely help you overcome the jitters. 
  • Evaluations provide another opportunity for building communication and presentation skills.  The role of Evaluator is a key role in the Toastmasters meeting.  Evaluators are asked to listen to and observe others and their work and offer feedback.  The evaluator provides an honest reaction in a constructive manner to the speaker using guidelines provided based on the speakers objective.   Good evaluators give feedback that is helpful and encouraging.

Toastmasters also provides the opportunity to build leadership skills.  Toastmasters members are encouraged to participate in the weekly meetings by filling a leadership position on the agenda.  You may also develop leadership skills by serving in a club officer position.  There are also district meetings and educational events that provide other opportunities to build leadership skills.  For you leadership skills may be in the development of sound meeting planning and time management.  For someone else development of leadership skills may be in coaching and mentoring others.  No matter what your particular need, Toastmasters will have a role or program that will help you realize your development goal for leadership.

Social Networking is another benefit of belonging to Toastmasters.  You will meet new people and form friendships through weekly meetings, contests and social gatherings.  While Toastmasters meetings are structured and develop skills in meeting management, there is an atmosphere of fellowship and fun in each Toastmasters Club meeting.

I have recently become involved with a local Toastmaster’s Group.  When I attended my first meeting I was not sure what to expect or even if I would continue on with the group.  What I have discovered is a community of friends and professional associates all focused on self-improvement and helping others.  I am committed to lifelong learning and have chosen Toastmasters for my personal development program.  I hope you will find a club near you and make Toastmasters part of your lifelong learning plan!

Get connected at:  www.toastmasters.org

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