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Everyone Should Avoid Making These 10 Career Mistakes

Everyone Should Avoid Making These 10 Career Mistakes
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You have decided you are going to make your mark and you will have a stellar career. That’s great, but let’s hope you avoid making these career mistakes which could shatter your dream in the long term. In order to make it to the top, here are 10 mistakes you should never make.

1. You limit your networking to inside the company.

Some employees cannot be bothered to start networking outside their company. They may be pretty friendly and helpful inside the company, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just think what would happen if you were not in the loop when a new acquisition was proposed. You are the production manager and because you neglected networking, you were just not on the ball. You failed to exploit your contacts outside the company to gain valuable feedback, support and knowledge of market trends and innovation. That is the value of networking, yet many managers underestimate its importance. A lot of this needs to be done offline because it is the real social contact and human interaction that counts. It will give you a chance to seize an opportunity because you have your ear to the ground.

Larry Page failed to spot the opportunity of developing a Google social network in time. When they did eventually launch Google Buzz (later Google +), they failed to take off because of Facebook’s dominance.

“I clearly knew that I had to do something and I failed to do it.” —Larry Page.

2. You place too much importance on salary and benefits.

How does a temporary salary cut appeal to you? If you are considering a move, think of the experience rather than the money. In the long term, this will pay handsome dividends as the new job will be a challenge for you to achieve new goals. Aim to widen your skills set, broaden your responsibilities and manage teams. Think of the job satisfaction that it will give you and also how impressive it will be on your resume. Nobody will notice your salary increases.

3. You are afraid of failure.

If you are afraid of failure, it is doubtful whether you will be able to learn from mistakes. The successful manager has to factor failure in for every project. One good piece of advice is to look at a project before it becomes operational and ask your team to list what could go wrong. This is a great way of identifying possible problems and obstacles and it can help you make adjustments if necessary.

When failure does happen, you have to be ready to react without playing the blame game. Wise tactics include listening, getting feedback and analysing what went wrong. There is some excellent advice along these lines in the book, Managing Yourself: Can You Handle Failure? by Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan.

Success will not teach you; failure will. This is the bitter lesson that Bill Gates learned when he failed to develop a Microsoft search engine. When he did develop Bing, it was already too late. It had little success and it cost Microsoft more than $2.5 million than it earned in 2011.

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“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” —Bill Gates

4. You buy property.

Maybe you have always wanted to buy a house in your favorite area, near your workplace. The problem about doing this early on in your career is that you are tied in many ways to one location. You are less mobile which may be a factor against you when you want to move up the ladder. Of course, you can always rent it but there are extra hassles which you could do well without. Many companies will be reluctant to pay expensive moving costs.

5. You avoid challenges.

Taking the easy way out is a short term policy which will not stand you in good stead. It is when you encounter difficulties that you begin to understand how you react to stress. You also realize what your strengths and weaknesses are and you can avoid any situations which are totally negative and sap your energy. Aim for challenges where you feel that you can grow and use your skills and passions to greater effect. It is only when meeting difficulties along the way that you can understand that.

“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had – everyday I’m learning something new.” —Richard Branson

 6. You ignore customer feedback.

Some successful businessmen have made very foolish decisions about launching a product or service, simply because they did not take customers’ needs or wishes into consideration. A example not to follow is that of Hiten Shah (founder of KISSMetrics) who spent $1m on developing a hosting company that never even launched. They realized too late that customer delight must be top priority. A similar example is that of Robin Chase co-founder of Zipcar.

“We built the website first and asked our customers about it later.” —Robin Chase

 7. You are too self-absorbed.

Basically you do not help coworkers or colleagues as you are too focused on your own success. This is a big mistake as research shows that when you help your peers, you are building a broad base of support which will pay off handsomely down the road. Research done by James Citrin and Richard Smith shows that the most successful entrepreneurs were four times more likely to help their peers than those who had not made it to the top. This is mentioned in their book The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers: The Guide for Achieving Success and Satisfaction.

8. You avoid hard work.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” —Vince Lombardi

Almost all successful entrepreneurs are convinced that the real secret to their success was hard work, self-discipline and self-confidence.

9. You are afraid to make a job change.

You may feel that your present working environment is far too restrictive and that you are not able to develop your leadership skills sufficiently. There may be other restrictions such as a lack of training to widen your skills set. Examine carefully how a job change could put you on the next step of the ladder. If you wallow in self-pity and boredom you will never have the courage to make a job change which could help your career to take off.

10. You undervalue emotional intelligence.

Nowadays, successful leaders have learned that emotional intelligence is really crucial in managing a team and also leading a company forward to success. Some studies are suggesting that a person’s success may depend only 25% on qualifications and intelligence while the remainder is made up of people skills and empathy, which make up the core of emotional intelligence.

If you cannot relate to the thoughts, experience and feelings of your peers or your team members, then you will be unable to manage them successfully. Whether you are a team member or you are in a managerial role, emotional intelligence should be high on your list of skills to acquire.

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Let us know in the comments what mistakes you made in your career and what were the lessons you learned.

Featured photo credit: Crosshairs- success/Flazingo Photos via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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