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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

11 Ways to Impress Employers and Network with Your Professionalism

11 Ways to Impress Employers and Network with Your Professionalism

It is no longer good enough to be present. You must be impressive. Otherwise, judgment on your professionalism creates distance, not association. In today’s social climate, everything has a professional undertone. Meetings with friends, play dates with other parents and children, or visiting with friends often require an appointment. There are many layers to people’s lives today. You’re expected to respect other’s time and at least acknowledge the effort to help.

Don’t be the last to understand a certain person is unapproachable. Even our closest friends have layers of relationships requiring different rules of engagement for each layer. Your professional network expects the same from you in understanding each person is different. You must do more than just capture attention. Your presence must move them to act. You must impress them to be memorable, and “wow” them to want to associate with you.

Employers have rules of engagement too. Since video recording and the spirit of transparency reigns today, unprofessionalism is noted. You don’t want to be THAT man or woman who mistreats, misquotes, or misappropriates anything. Employers are looking. Your network is looking.

I noticed these 11 attributes from people who exude professionalism. Be sure these are a part of your communication and overall presentation:

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1. You are direct

Your voice in writing and presentation speaks much louder, and your actions yell as either a fan at a sporting event or as an antagonist at a political rally. If people are guessing what you’re asking or responding to, then the respect you expect will dissipate.

2. You remember names

Forgetting a name is an awful habit. If you met the person more than twice, this could change the game for you in all of the wrong ways. Not to mention it says how much you care about the individual. It is hard if you’re meeting many people when starting a new job.

But if you don’t have the job yet, you’re obstructing your efforts. I would highly recommend Jerry Lucas, Dr. Memory series, notably the remembering names series. Don’t be fooled, forgetting names is an employment stumbling block. Remember: Professionalism is the end result. You will be remembered for not being interested if you forget names.

3. Temperance

As a job seeker, you are at the mercy of everyone and his godfather. Signs of impatience and petulance could disqualify you – it’s your personal smoking gun. Even if your face scrunched as it’s ready to be boxed is seen, it is a turn-off, and your non-verbal or verbal angst is considered to be bratty or self-entitled. Take the edge off as much as you can. Ask coworkers or people you know how do you come across in business situations.

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4. Answer the phone with tact

We might be talking about phone etiquette here, but it is important to tactfully and respectfully answer calls professionally. People are still surprised and enchanted when speaking to someone who is trying to impress them (without regards to position). Even if the caller is agitated, our voice, tone and wordings can diffuse the bomb before it blows, if we’re tactful and respectful.

5. Each person is important

Treating the secretary as if he or she is the CEO is a powerful tool. Don’t think it doesn’t impress the people who interview you. If executed well, more opportunities will increase your engagement with people and encourage a conversation rather than an interrogation.

6. Timing is everything

What you say is important, but when you say it could be the difference between being a professional or disrespectful. You learn when to talk about salary and perks because sooner than later is not a good strategy. If something bothers you about a part of the hiring process, it matters when and who you talk to. It is wise not to speak with anyone about it when you don’t have all of the information.

7. Clarity in everything

You must clearly communicate in every phase with everyone involved in your hiring process (essentially it’s everyone you meet). Typical communication mishaps are unfinished thoughts, bad grammar, unclear speech or dialect, and many times lack eye contact. Professionalism is also seeking clarity. Questions show enthusiasm and interest.

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Some of it is culture related, but when you struggle with clarity you can always:

– Repeat what you said in a slightly different way
– Ask the person if what you said was clear (with a humble attitude)
– Provide a follow-up email to significant conversations

8. Punctual

Being late for meetings, events, and even phone calls can leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. Coffee, lunch, scheduled phone calls and casual meet-ups count as much like job interviews even if it is with a colleague. When you’re on time, excellence can be assumed or at minimum care about the work at hand.

9. Allowing accountability

It’s more important to have self-accountability, but providing an option for people to follow-up empowers them. The trick is for them to find it unnecessary because you want to show out. Offering transparency creates trust and faith in your abilities, but it also shows you don’t mind putting your reputation to your work.

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10. You’re honest with your mistakes

No one expects you to confess your sins in a public way, but how you respond to others mistakes says a lot about you. Empathy helps when others can feel through experience by walking in their shoes. Mistakes are human, and handling gaffes with grace and tact seal your authenticity and professionalism.

11. Your social updates are thoughtfully and carefully crafted

If you have an acute sense of humor, it doesn’t mean you have to be serious. I think even comedians who are known for their brash humor add context to their stories. Without context, we’re all vulnerable to incessant criticism and misunderstanding. Therefore, your attempts to connect with your network are futile without clarity and context.

Every interaction counts during your job search and as you advance in your career. Whether people view you from far away, online, or shaking hands with you, no one should doubt your professionalism. I just mention a few ways to be professional, but there are more. Mainly, you want people to rave about you after you leave the room.

Featured photo credit: www.insidehighered.com via insidehighered.com

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Last Updated on September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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