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How To Maximize Your Networking Success At Zoom Conferences And Events

This article was originally published on Forbes.com by Dawn Graham on Sept 25, 2020

Screen of multiple people socialising on video call
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If you tend to be a frequent work traveler or regular conference attendee, it’s likely you’ve seen many of these events move to an online platform in the last several months.

While something is better than nothing, Zoom conferences certainly lack the engagement and energy that comes with traveling to a different place, dining with new people, stepping out of your day-to-day routine and being focused on a particular topic for a few days while your “Out of Office” message earns you a small breather.

Perhaps you have an upcoming conference scheduled for early 2021 and you’re holding out hope that it’ll run as planned? Sadly, it’s not likely to happen.

The world has gone fully virtual in most places due to the impact of the pandemic, and it’s probable that some of those changes will be long-lasting.

While Zoom fatigue is real, we need to accept that even when life returns to “normal” (whatever that looks like), many events and meetings will continue to be virtual to a larger extent than we’d seen pre-COVID.

So, instead of resisting this new reality, why not get a jumpstart on engaging it to the fullest? Here’s how to increase your network during virtual events:

1) Embrace the change. It’s not uncommon to hear people speak about “when the pandemic is over” in a way that suggests there will be a shift back to life as it was. Although the pendulum will rebalance in some areas, others will remain on the current trajectory, and those who embrace the new reality will benefit.

  • Learn to fully use the tools. With the recent boom in virtual engagement, many platforms are adding new features regularly in an effort to provide an enhanced experience. This can be daunting, but many of these features and tools are pretty user-friendly once you know they exist. Make an effort to become an expert user on at least two popular platforms so you can get the most value out of virtual meetings and conferences. At a basic level, learn how to modify your screen name for the audience. If you’re with known colleagues, your first name may be enough, but if it’s an online conference with people who don’t know you, a descriptive title or other identifier can take the place of your lanyard name tag.
  • Invest in your environment. Many were able to wing it initially, and dark lighting, busy backgrounds or fuzzy images were relatively acceptable. However, now that we’ve been working from home for over six months (and will be for the foreseeable future), the bar has been raised and a shoddy virtual set-up will stand out (poorly) against a sea of professional ones. First impressions still count. If you’re able, invest $70 for a professional USB laptop camera with adjustable lighting. If finances are tight, a basic selfie-ring adds a ton of brightness for about $12 and an ironed, plain sheet can create a simple, clutter-free background. While virtual backgrounds can be fun in casual settings, at times they’ll make you appear as a bodyless entity drowning in the scenery, so use caution.
  • Initiate virtual solutions. Humans have a tendency to gravitate towards habit, so while you may be most comfortable with a conference call or basic video calling, this is a perfect time to stretch beyond your comfort zone to try new tools and features. You are in good company because many people have been working on expanding their virtual skills and will be sympathetic to the challenges of transitioning to a new method of communicating. You’ll likely get helpful feedback and a patient audience. However, that patience will start to wear thin as we move into 2021. The expectations will be higher for virtual communications and delivery, so now is the time to experiment.

2) Attend fully. One of the unspoken benefits of attending conference calls or online meetings over in-person sessions is the ability to multitask. We’ve become so skilled at it now, we can even respond to messages, check social media, and watch silly cat videos while our video cameras are on without anyone being the wiser. Although there are admittedly many new distractions to working at home including family members, pets, and homeschooling, often we create our own distractions because our minds are more restless than usual during these ambiguous times. To get the greatest benefit from online conferences:

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  • Focus. This is harder than it sounds so notice where your distractions lie and remove them. If it’s external, close the door and hang a note explaining your call will be over at 3pm. If it’s a wandering mind, turn off your notifications, place your phone in another room, and power down any devices that tempt you to stray. Other helpful strategies include taking notes and making an effort to follow the chat box or jot down all the attendees’ names. Also, don’t plan to attend a conference when you’re in the car or otherwise engaged. While this might seem like a good use of time, if part of your goal is to build your network, you’ll miss out on key opportunities to connect over interesting slides or chat interactions.
  • Prepare in advance. If you can find out who’s attending, you can research them in advance and make note of people you’d like to meet or connect with later. Look at the agenda and begin thinking about the topics that will be discussed. Plan to contribute in the chat and breakout rooms or through polls and have some questions ready for presenters or panelists. Many webinar participants take a passive role, as if they’re watching a television program. However, if you approach the session with the intention of taking an active role, you’ll get more return on your investment.
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  • Get involved. At a basic level, introduce yourself in the chat when joining with your name and location, and respond to questions the presenter asks. As an introvert, I realize this can feel as scary as standing up in an auditorium full of strangers, but others will notice you’re engaged. If you have the option, take on a role like timekeeper, note-taker, moderator or even panel participant or facilitator. This will expose you to just about everyone on the call, which is a great way to build your brand and network. Also, many online conferences are getting creative with virtual networking or coffee breaks where participants can mingle casually between sessions. Attend a few and you’ll meet more people.

3) Follow-up. Many of us are scheduled on back-to-back video calls now, so not only do we miss the opportunity for the informal conversations we might have had between meetings when in-person, but we barely have time to process what just happened before clicking on the next meeting link. Although the thought of taking another step may feel daunting, those who know the power of networking recognize it takes initiative, and relationships are built after the initial introduction. Here’s how to follow-up:

  • Connect on LinkedIn. This is the easiest step and a great start. During the meeting, jot down the names of people you’d like to get to know better (or take a screenshot with your phone) and specifically what you found interesting about them. Then, send a personalized note asking them to join your network. Usually it’s best if this is done within 24 hours. Also, be sure to include the name of the conference or webinar where you were introduced so they recognize the shared commonality.
  • Set up a 1-1. Make it a habit to select a few people to meet with individually to learn more and continue the discussion. Although not everyone will have the time, if you have a compelling invite, you may be surprised who is willing to hop on a 20-minute phone chat. Obviously, you want to make a good impression and not waste their time, so prepare an agenda, do your homework and be ready to lead the conversation.
  • Consider a small discussion group. If you’re learning new material, sharing best practices or discussing strategies for the future of the industry, it’ll be tough to flesh out ideas and detailed plans in a conference or single webinar. Ask if any other participants are interested in a post-session meet-up to continue brainstorming or sharing ideas. It’s likely many are game, and they’ll be grateful you suggested it. This is a good way to meet others on a more intimate basis and continue to develop your relationship.

The keys to successful networking on a large video seminar include presenting a great first impression, showing you care by paying exquisite attention (very rare these days), and taking the initiative to follow up and continue the discussion. Most won’t do this, so you’re at a distinct advantage to stand out if you do.

While we can’t necessarily control what’s happening in the external world, those who are most likely to succeed find a way to adapt and make the best of the circumstances, no matter what obstacles are presented.

Happy hunting!

How to impress in a Virtual or Zoom interview – Setup, Showcase & Shine!

This article was courtesy of Pooja Krishna and maroonoak.com

Setup, Showcase, Shine - How to impress in a Virtual or Zoom interview
Photo courtest of maroonoak.com

Go beyond the conventional job or gig process, when it comes to video interviews. Online conversations need a different kind of prep in terms of the right tech set up, an appealing persona, and most of all, the right way to communicate and persuade. Explore these 21 tips to ace and impress in your virtual interview. 

The basic processes of a job application remain the same. Read, apply, connect, and interview. But everything has turned virtual in recent times. And these best practices for Zoom interviews can help immensely!

While resume submissions and screening have been digital for a long time, most interviews are now on Zoom too. With more employers offering remote jobs and freelance gigs, how well you show up in the online interview can ink the job for you. 

Check out our top tips that can help you succeed in a Zoom interview!

Plan your interview in 3 main components.

  • Setup and practice for an online meeting
  • Interact and respond effectively during the virtual interview
  • Follow up and close afterward. 

Even if you are experienced at job interviews, these virtual interview tips and hacks can help you stand out while applying for remote jobs. And yes, explore these pointers when you’re looking for phone interview tips too.

Setup and practice for the online interview

Like any job application, read the job description carefully and customize your resume, if needed. 

Include a compelling bio summary in the application form or email cover. Do link to your portfolio in your resume or cover email, particularly if you are applying for a freelance job.

The resume and email become even more important when employers can’t meet you personally. Ensure that you have updated your online profiles – check out these tips for a strong LinkedIn Profile.

Run through your responses to the commonly asked questions for your role and type of work. Keep in mind that these tips on prep, clarity and managing communication matter in phone interviews as well.

How can you prepare for your Zoom or Skype Interview?

Work on your opening statement 

As a Virtual Interview Candidate, you should practice speaking out your basic bio. Plus, answers to common questions so you are comfortable sharing your responses. Even if you have interviewed many times before, an online interview is a vastly different experience until you get used to it.

Like a regular interview, prepare for an online interview with the commonly asked questions. Here are some examples.

Write your cheatsheet

A handy list of key pointers that you can refer to, is a huge plus with virtual interviews. You can write down your key numbers, specific achievements, or even phrases and names. But remember to glance quickly when you need to and sound natural when you’re sharing.

Figure out the location, tech, and lighting

Apart from a quiet, disturbance-free spot, make sure you choose one that looks pleasing with a professional-looking setup. This not only makes you feel confident, it also shows the interviewers that you have the right infrastructure for remote work. Many pros recommend a lighter background, adding simple accessories, even a plant or two.

Ensure that you have the right device and internet setup – technology snafus will reflect poorly on you. It also tells potential hirers that you might have issues with tech and hence working remote. 

Get comfortable with the basic features of Zoom, Skype or Webex beforehand. 

Ensure that the lighting is just right.  It should be flattering to you not too low or so bright that it starts to blind you after a while. Invest in a small clip-on light for your laptop that casts soft ambient light on your face. Similarly, if you’re next to a window, make sure your face isn’t in half light and shadow.

A light behind you is a strong no-no! No interviewer wants to be blinded by the glare and a lot of hirers say that it’s their no.1 pet peeve.

Manage appearance and body language

Place your camera at eye level or just a little higher. This is usually the most flattering angle.

Dress the part

Focus on dressing in a tasteful, employer-friendly attire. Look up the company website to get a sense of the dress code. But err on the formal side and dress one level up. Go with a good fit, clean lines, and simple accessories. Avoid colors that are too light – they wash out your skin tone; or overly bright ones that take away attention from you. 

Ensure that you choose something that you’re comfortable in when you’re sitting down for an hour. So set aside that flattering blazer that’s super snug and go for a well-cut top that complements your coloring.

Record yourself on video

A key online interview tip is to do a dry run using the same device and setting that you plan to use for the interview. That way you can get a sense of how you look and sound, as well as your postures and expressions. A recording will tell you what you should fix, say if you grimaced many times or maybe you were slouching too much. Plus it often gives you an idea of the camera angle that suits you best. 

Show it to a friend or family member, if you can.

Check your online avatar

Make sure you have a good picture as your Zoom or Skype id (instead of your dog’s :-). Ditto for your name – include both your first and last names. 

Prep if you’re screen sharing

If you are presenting during a Zoom interview, prepare your content well by making sure that it’s visually appealing and easy to read. Rehearse what you will say and anticipate the questions. Remember to position your cursor to the start of the document.

Be punctual and relaxed

On the appointed day and time, settle in preferably before time, so you are relaxed and prepared to talk, instead of scrambling at the last minute. How early should you join a Zoom Interview? Load and set up about 10-15 minutes earlier (even if you have to wait for the host) since Zoom or Webex can take time to load.

A few deep breaths and belly laughs before you start can work wonders.

Interact and respond effectively on video

Stay distraction free

Shut down other apps which might cause you loss of attention or cause annoying notification pings. Sometimes multiple issues can also impact the bandwidth of video conferencing apps like Zoom.

Communicate effectively

It is a lot harder to keep attention in a virtual interview. When you’re speaking, keep your responses to a moderate length. You don’t want to sound abrupt but nor should you ramble endlessly – this is also good interview etiquette. Make sure you close your response clearly so that the listener knows that you have finished. 

Check out these tips to engage successfully in any Zoom interview

  • Write down the names so you can personalize responses
  • Speak in shorter sentences.
  • When struggling for words, pause strategically (instead of using fillers like um or ‘you know.’)
  • When in doubt, clarify a question rather than respond instantly. Did you mean…?
  • Keep it interactive. Since you can’t see the body language or the communication between a group of interviewers, ask ‘continuity questions’ to keep the conversation going. E.g. Does this make sense to you? Or, I hope I understood this right…

Smile

You cannot smile enough, more so in a virtual interview. A positive attitude is a prerequisite in most jobs and this will help for sure. Use humor as an icebreaker and to showcase your positive personality. 

Animate with facial expressions

In the absence of body language to communicate your message, make sure your face emotes well and often. This projects confidence and shows that you are engaged and enthusiastic. 

Slow down (a little)

In the absence of body language, your words need a little more time to get through and be effective. So slowing down helps your listener grasp things better. Plus, it also helps when there is a loss in transmission.

Keep eye contact

As far as possible, keep your eyes on the camera lens as well as the on-screen images of the participants. This keeps the contact more personal.

Prepare for lack of eye contact too

Talking to a camera can be disconcerting. Keep in mind that the interviewer may be taking notes, so you might feel like you’re talking to your own computer.

Plan for delays and pauses

Similarly, make sure that the other person has finished their question before you leap to respond. Time lags are a challenge in video interviews so avoid talking over each other.

Demonstrate your skills with your narrative

While most interviewers will ask you questions about your experience and abilities related to functional skills, soft skills are harder to show online. Make sure you thread them in the narrative. Have incidents or examples to show your initiative, teamwork ethic or communication abilities. In particular, you need to show that you are comfortable with working in a remote setting.

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Close and follow up after the virtual interview

Prepare for future interviews

Identify a few dates that work for you and keep them handy, in case the interviewers want another online meeting. 

End it right

Ensure that you close on a positive note. Offer to send any additional info they might need. Remember to thank the interviewers and acknowledge their understanding, if there were glitches at your end.

Keep in touch

Send a thank you email and offer to answer any questions that they might not have covered. Be quick and responsive to questions or communication from the company’s end.

Conclusion

Remote jobs are here to stay. As companies, startups and businesses hire for different roles, your ability to communicate and impress online will make a significant difference. When you practice and prepare for an online interview, you will be more effective in showing them why they should hire you.

Zoom up, Camera, Action!

How to Combat Zoom Fatigue

HBR Staff/1001slide/Getty Images

If you’re finding that you’re more exhausted at the end of your workday than you used to be, you’re not alone. Over the past few weeks, mentions of “Zoom fatigue” have popped up more and more on social media, and Google searches for the same phrase have steadily increased since early March.

Why do we find video calls so draining? There are a few reasons.

In part, it’s because they force us to focus more intently on conversations in order to absorb information. Think of it this way: when you’re sitting in a conference room, you can rely on whispered side exchanges to catch you up if you get distracted or answer quick, clarifying questions. During a video call, however, it’s impossible to do this unless you use the private chat feature or awkwardly try to find a moment to unmute and ask a colleague to repeat themselves.

The problem isn’t helped by the fact that video calls make it easier than ever to lose focus. We’ve all done it: decided that, why yes, we absolutely can listen intently, check our email, text a friend, and post a smiley face on Slack within the same thirty seconds. Except, of course, we don’t end up doing much listening at all when we’re distracted. Adding fuel to the fire is many of our work-from-home situations. We’re no longer just dialing into one or two virtual meetings. We’re also continuously finding polite new ways to ask our loved ones not to disturb us, or tuning them out as they army crawl across the floor to grab their headphones off the dining table. For those who don’t have a private space to work, it is especially challenging.

Finally, “Zoom fatigue” stems from how we process information over video. On a video call the only way to show we’re paying attention is to look at the camera. But, in real life, how often do you stand within three feet of a colleague and stare at their face? Probably never. This is because having to engage in a “constant gaze” makes us uncomfortable — and tired. In person, we are able to use our peripheral vision to glance out the window or look at others in the room. On a video call, because we are all sitting in different homes, if we turn to look out the window, we worry it might seem like we’re not paying attention. Not to mention, most of us are also staring at a small window of ourselves, making us hyper-aware of every wrinkle, expression, and how it might be interpreted. Without the visual breaks we need to refocus, our brains grow fatigued.

If this all sounds like bad news, don’t despair. We have five research-based tips that can help make video calls less exhausting.

Avoid multitasking.

It’s easy to think that you can use the opportunity to do more in less time, but research shows that trying to do multiple things at once cuts into performance. Because you have to turn certain parts of your brain off and on for different types of work, switching between tasks can cost you as much as 40 percent of your productive time. Researchers at Stanford found that people who multitask can’t remember things as well as their more singularly focused peers. The next time you’re on a video chat, close any tabs or programs that might distract you (e.g. your inbox or Slack), put your phone away, and stay present. We know it’s tempting, but try to remind yourself that the Slack message you just got can wait 15 minutes, and that you’ll be able to craft a better response when you’re not also on a video chat.

Build in breaks.

Take mini breaks from video during longer calls by minimizing the window, moving it to behind your open applications, or just looking away from your computer completely for a few seconds now and then. We’re all more used to being on video now (and to the stressors that come with nonstop facetime). Your colleagues probably understand more than you think — it is possible to listen without staring at the screen for a full thirty minutes. This is not an invitation to start doing something else, but to let your eyes rest for a moment. For days when you can’t avoid back-to-back calls, consider making meetings 25 or 50 minutes (instead of the standard half-hour and hour) to give yourself enough time in between to get up and move around for a bit. If you are on an hour-long video call, make it okay for people to turn off their cameras for parts of the call.

Reduce onscreen stimuli.

Research shows that when you’re on video, you tend to spend the most time gazing at your own face. This can be easily avoided by hiding yourself from view. Still, onscreen distractions go far beyond yourself. You may be surprised to learn that on video, we not only focus on other’s faces, but on their backgrounds as well. If you’re on a call with five people, you may feel like you’re in five different rooms at once. You can see their furniture, plants, and wallpaper. You might even strain to see what books they have on their shelves. The brain has to process all of these visual environmental cues at the same time. To combat mental fatigue, encourage people to use plain backgrounds (e.g. a poster of a peaceful beach scene), or agree as a group to have everyone who is not talking turn off their video.

Make virtual social events opt-in.

After a long day of back-to-back video calls, it’s normal to feel drained, particularly if you’re an introvert. That’s why virtual social sessions should be kept opt-in, meaning whoever owns the event makes it explicit that people are welcome, but not obligated, to join. You might also consider appointing a facilitator if you’re expecting a large group. This person can open by asking a question, and then make it clear in what order people should speak, so everyone gets to hear from one another and the group doesn’t start talking all at once. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if we don’t know what’s expected of us, or if we’re constantly trying to figure out when we should or should not chime in.

Switch to phone calls or email.

Check your calendar for the next few days to see if there are any conversations you could have over Slack or email instead. If 4PM rolls around and you’re Zoomed-out but have an upcoming one-on-one, ask the person to switch to a phone call or suggest picking up the conversation later so you can both recharge. Try something like, “I’d love a break from video calls. Do you mind if we do this over the phone?” Most likely the other person will be relieved by the switch, too.

For external calls, avoid defaulting to video, especially if you don’t know each other well.

Many people now feel a tendency to treat video as the default for all communication. In situations where you’re communicating with people outside of your organization (clients, vendors, networking, etc.) — conversations for which you used to rely on phone calls — you may feel obligated to send out a Zoom link instead. But a video call is fairly intimate and can even feel invasive in some situations. For example, if you’re asked to do a career advice call and you don’t know the person you’re talking to, sticking to phone is often a safer choice. If your client FaceTimes you with no warning, it’s okay to decline and suggest a call instead.

Some of these tips might be hard to follow at first (especially that one about resisting the urge to tab-surf during your next Zoom call). But taking these steps can help you prevent feeling so exhausted at the thought of another video chat. It’s tiring enough trying to adapt to this new normal. Make video calls a little easier for yourself.

Article by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy originally published by the Harvard Business Review on April 29, 2020

5 Quick Ways to Organize Your Home Office

Home Office Organization Made Easy

Organizing your home office
Photo courtesy of thebalacesmb.com

BY SUSAN WARD Updated February 06, 2019

Home office organization is something we don’t think much about until it’s too late. You need a home office, so you create one. And over time, as you work in your home office, things stack and layer around you – used coffee mugs, a stack of files you keep meaning to put somewhere, software boxes, bills, orphaned pens – until one day, when something gets in your way or disappears for the umpteenth time, you suddenly realize that getting your home office organized is long overdue.

Full home office organization is a big job. It tends to be overwhelming at first glance (and even the second and third). If you feel up to it, you can follow a 12-step plan to make your office space functional and attractive again. But if you’re not quite ready for a full makeover but desperately need to be able to find things, here are five small manageable things you can do to organize your home office right now.

Pick Three Things and Throw Them Out

We’ll start our home office organization with something easy just to get you in the mood and clear some space. There’s probably a lot more than just three things either on your desk or scattered around your home office that can go from your workspace right to the trash or recycling bin.

Look closely. Do you really need those old magazines? That pen that doesn’t work? Those used snack pudding containers? No. Get rid of them!

You don’t need to stop at just three things. If you see more obvious candidates for the trash, throw them out, too. You could even use author and celebrity organizer Marie Kondo’s method of asking yourself, “does this paperweight, photo frame, gel tipped pen…spark joy?” If it doesn’t spark joy, toss it.

Weed One Filing Drawer

Filing cabinets are the kings of clutter for most home offices, which is ironic because we think of them as clutter solutions. In reality, though, we stuff them with whatever we can’t find a place for or whatever piece of paper we don’t need to deal with anymore but don’t want to throw away. So our filing cabinet becomes our own personal landfill and when it’s full, we just move in another one.

Sorting through the standard-sized four-drawer filing cabinet can resemble an archeological dig with years of accumulated stuff to sift through. So let’s start small. Organize your home office by choosing one drawer and weeding through it, removing anything that’s no longer current or necessary. (Remember, though, that you need to keep your business records for six years.)

Documents and papers that you no longer have to keep should be shredded. You may be able to re-use old file folders.

Take it a step further by buying a cardboard file box and use it to store old files that you need to keep but don’t have to have immediate access to. Store the box in a spot away from your home office.

Clear Your Bulletin or Message Board

Bulletin or message boards are a feature in many home offices. Alas, rather than keep us posted on up-to-date events and helping us to keep our lives organized, they often degenerate into cluttered time capsules.

Look at yours right now. Is there anything posted or written there that relates to something you need to do today or even this week? What do you see instead? Pictures drawn by the kids? Photos from last summer’s camping trip?

Keep the purpose of home office organization in mind. We’re not just decluttering; we’re creating a workspace that will help you be more productive. There’s nothing wrong with having the kids’ pictures and family photos displayed in your home – but your home office is not the place for them. Take them down and move them elsewhere. Then clear all the old messages off the board. You’re ready to move forward.

Organize One Desk Drawer

Drawers tend to be dumping grounds anyhow but in a home office. Start small. Select one desk drawer and taking everything out of it.

Sort through the contents, throwing out whatever is no longer useful and moving whatever is misplaced back to its better location. (The recipes, for instance, are probably best located near the kitchen rather than at your desk.)

Then insert a plastic organizer tray (available at any office supplies store) and put things back into the drawer, using the different sections of the organizer tray to keep things separate and easy to find.

Clear Your Desktop for a Week

Start by getting a large cardboard box (or two). Now take everything off your office desk except for items that are absolutely necessary for your work, such as your computer and phone. Put everything you remove from your desktop into the cardboard box(es).

Put the box(es) somewhere accessible but out of the way so you’re not tripping over them. Then go to work just as you normally would. As you’re working in your home office, if there’s something you need that’s not on your desk, fish it out of the box and put it in a logical place on or around your desk. For example, if you find you’re word processing from typed copy, get your desk copyholder out of the box and put it back on your desk.

By the end of a week, you’ll have everything you need to work efficiently on your desk or close to hand – and nothing else. As for whatever’s left in the box, it belongs somewhere else, properly filed if it’s a necessary piece of paper or thrown out if it’s something that’s just cluttering up your workspace.

Your Home Office Organization Can Stop Here

If you want it to. That is, as promised, five small manageable things to organize your home office. Take your home office organization further if you like. Organize all your desk drawers. Master your filing system. Go through the full home office organizational makeover if you want to.

Learn how to create a document management system. But that’s for later. Right now hopefully the organizing you’ve done is doing what it was meant to do – letting you get more done more easily when you sit down to work in your home office.

Article published on February 6, 2019 on thebalanacesmb.com

8 Advantages of Using Social Media in Your Recruitment Advertising Strategy

As recruitment agencies compete for top talent, it has become increasingly necessary to use social media in talent acquisition. Indeed, over 90% of all recruiters now use social networking sites in their recruitment process. The following are eight benefits of using social media as part of your recruitment advertising strategy:

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picture thanks to digitalhrtech.com

1. Increases job visibility

Today, practically every ideal candidate you could consider for any position at your company is on social media. Facebook enjoys an active user base of over 2.19 billion. Twitter is popular for the ability to host job search chats and many millennials and Generation X demographic are active users of LinkedIn as a job hunting platform.

Wherever you look, you see social networks serving as incredible platforms for identifying and recruiting talented individuals to work for your clients. Certainly, few other platforms can reach as many people as social media, meaning that you are likely to get the caliber of talent other platforms can hardly match.

2. Higher quality candidates

Self-reported statistics from many companies show that they get high quality candidates whenever they recruit via social networking sites. One big reason why this is the case is because most people you will find on social media are tech-savvy, a fundamental requirement to land any job in today’s marketplace.

Additionally, they are likely to already be in the know regarding emerging business trends, adding to the skills they bring to the table. What’s more, if you choose to use your employees to announce new openings at your company via social media, chances are that the people you will hire will not only stay longer at your company, they will also be more productive than those you would hire through other platforms.

3. Better employer brand awareness

Social recruiting is effective, not just in finding you the ideal candidate, but also in increasing the visibility of your brand. By advertising new positions on social media, you strengthen your brand and create some level of trust among potential employees.

People view brands that have a strong social media presence as more trustworthy. Therefore, it would serve your business well to establish a robust social media presence, not just because you want to find good employees, but also because doing so will build trust among potential customers as well as make it a coveted place to work.

4. Reduce cost of hire

Recruiting can be a very expensive undertaking. Social recruiting is cheaper, but can still cost you significant amounts of money. All the same, the value you get from the hires you find via social networking platforms makes this approach extremely cheap.

Without a doubt, recruitment costs via social media are almost always, lower than those of other methods. A simple Facebook ad can for instance get you over two times more visibility than the traditional recruitment methods like classified ads in the dailies and job boards.

5. Opens the door to engagement

Imagine a brand that has taken its time to grow its audience, even using tools like Growr to organically grow on social media, but finds itself struggling to engage with the followers it has gathered. Such a brand can benefit from a social media post of a job opening.

As interested individuals seek out more information regarding the job opportunity, your social media page gets more engagement. Some interested parties will post on the comments section, others will share with their friends and followers, while others will send you a direct message to your inbox.

These conversations keep your page active and give you the opportunity to engage with potential employees. Some of these are people who would never have applied for a job at your company had you used any other recruitment platform.

Recruiters who know how to make the most of the recruitment opportunities available on social media will tell you that some of these social conversations are better than one-on-one interviews.

In any case, you can have several chats with several potential candidates on social networking websites, and only call a few of them to further the conversation in person at your business premises later. Furthermore, there are several social recruitment tools you can use that will help you do it fast and stress free. These include Jobcast, Work4 Labs, Jobvite, Bullhorn Reach, and LinkUp.

6. Allows you to target your vacancies more

Social recruitment comes with incredible ability to laser-target certain groups of people for the available vacancies. On LinkedIn for instance, you can try to share the job postings in certain industry-specific LinkedIn groups.

On this platform alone, there are thousands of groups for professionals in practically every industry you can imagine: from engineers to HR workers, to writers, to finance experts. That said, remember to post your recruitment messages in a way that would not be deemed annoying.

The idea is to attract potential candidates, not overwhelm them with promises of bliss if they get a job at your company. Though such promises might be true, potential employees could start to view you and your company as con artists or spammers, ultimately undermining your credibility and ruining your chances of getting top talent via the social platform.

Twitter hashtags also make for clever recruitment methods. You can also consider asking your employees to share the available vacancies within their social circles.

7. Screen your candidates

It is now an open secret that employers use social media to get an in-depth understanding of the people they have hired at their companies. Many people see social media platforms as free spaces where they can express their frustrations, talk about their causes and share their experiences as they go through the days of the lives. What you might not know is that potential employers also check out candidates on social media.

Social networking sites give them a deeper view of who they are about to hire. It gives them insights into the person’s personality even allowing them to figure out what their ambitions are and what they can expect once they hire them to work in their business.

Other recruitment methods cannot help you do that. Screening potential employees ensures that you work with those people who align with your company values and culture.

All the same, it is important to note that you should resist the temptation to review someone else’s social media profiles without them consenting to it. That said, most people now include links to their social media profiles in their CVs, a decision that implies that they are comfortable with potential employers reviewing their social media profiles.

8. Shortens hiring time

The traditional methods of recruitment generally take longer than social media recruitment methods. This means that when you have an open position that you need filled in the shortest time possible, social media is the platform to consider. Social networking sites not only make it easy and fast to communicate with candidates, it also allows them to respond faster. As a result, excellent work relationships often emerge.

What’s more, recruiting in a talent pool that has people who share common values, interest and work styles with the hiring manager or company often accelerates the speed with which you will find the ideal person for the job. This is great news for both the hiring party and the candidates hoping to get an opportunity to work at your organization.

Source: written by Marquis Matson for RecruitLoop 

16 Effective Ways to Build Your Online Presence

Image courtesy of entrepreneur.com

Hi Everyone!

Our theme for this month is Online Presence and Branding, so I wanted to share an article with you that I found very helpful in reminding me what things to consider when looking to market an employer, your own business, or, if you’re a job seeker, yourself! I hope you can glean some insight from this list of tips!

Best Regards,

Zach- Monroe Personnel Service, LLC and Temptime

And now without further ado, the article, originally written by Rebecca Riserbato and published on blog.hubspot.com on Oct 29, 2019:

The other day I was trying to find the perfect dress pant yoga pants because I wanted comfortable, professional clothing options.

When I searched for “dress pant yoga pants” on Google, I found the brand Betabrand.

Amazingly, the company dominated the top four search results. The first two results were their website, the third was their Amazon page, and the fourth was a review of their product.

Deciding I wanted to look into it further, I searched for Betabrand on Google and found their social media pages, a Wikipedia page, their website, their Amazon store, and reviews.

They were impossible to ignore online. Ultimately, I ended up making a purchase.

My buyer’s journey is not unique.

In fact, according to Adaptive Marketing, 97% of consumers use the internet to find a business.

That’s why having an online presence is important.

It helps consumers find your brand before they are aware you exist and it helps them learn about your reputation before making a purchase. Eventually, all of this information will play a role in your customer’s purchasing decision.

Below we’ll review what an online presence is, and explore 16 effective ways to build your online presence.

Download Now: Free Brand Building Guide
Online Presence Definition
An online presence can be defined by how easy it is to find a brand or company online. It’s important for building your brand’s reputation, increasing brand awareness, and providing visibility to your products or services when users are searching for related keywords.

How to Improve Your Online Presence:
Build an email list
Master SEO
Create value
Be active online
Analyze your results
Adopt new forums
Have a social media presence
Make a website
Produce content
Personify your brand
Experiment with online advertising
Research influencer marketing
Be competitive
Develop relationships
Show up where your audience is
Automate your process

  1. Build an email list.
    One of the top ways to build your online presence is to create and grow an email list. An email list will enable you to engage with current and potential customers on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

To grow your email list, you can create gated content that users have to sign-up to receive. Additionally, you can use a call-to-action (CTA) on your website and social media pages to promote your email newsletter. With a newsletter, you’re able to collect leads’ emails — additionally, it shows your leads and customers are interested in your content.

You can use tools in your content management system (CMS) to create forms, slide-in CTAs, or popups that are designed to gather email addresses. For example, HubSpot offers an email marketing tool, free pop-up forms, and a free online form builder to help build an email list. Alternatively, you might consider checking out MailChimp or GetResponse. To find a tool that works for your business, check out The 12 Best Email Newsletter Tools in 2019.

  1. Master SEO.
    With algorithms changing every day, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best tactics to build your online presence.

The first step to showing up online when people are searching is to master SEO.

SEO can be divided into two categories — on-site SEO, and off-site SEO.

On-site SEO is all about the content. You’ll want to use keyword research, include internal and external links, and create educational content that likely matches your target audiences’ search queries.

With off-site SEO, you’ll pay attention to the more technical side of things. For example, you’ll want to make sure your site is set up correctly, has simple URL structuring, and loads quickly. Additionally, off-site SEO also includes building credibility with backlinks.

Lastly, if you want to show up on Google, create a Google My Business account, and use Google’s keyword planner.

  1. Create value.
    Overall, your brand or company’s goal is to make money. But before you can make money, you have to create value and be customer-centric.

One way to create value is to provide educational, free content online. Not only is this helpful for your customers, but it’ll also improve your online presence.

To get started, write out a list of your customer’s pain points and motivations. In other words, take a look at your buyer persona.

Then, brainstorm content that would answer their questions. What information would help your customers? This will be the basis for your content strategy.

Another way to create value online is to give advice. You could do this through guest posting, responding to comments, or appearing on a podcast. Wherever your customers have questions, you should be answering them.

  1. Be active online.
    In order to show up online, you have to be active online. This includes regularly posting to your owned properties, including your website and social media accounts.

Additionally, you should be active in other areas, as well. For example, you should engage with followers and subscribers on social media. If there’s something that everyone is talking about in your industry, you can engage in the conversation.

  1. Analyze your results.
    Once you get started with a few tactics to build your online presence, it’s critical you analyze your results. I would suggest testing your strategies so you learn what works and what doesn’t.

In order to test your results, start out by deciding what metrics you’re using. If you’re working on your SEO, you might track your search engine results on Google. On the other hand, if you’re building an email list, you might track the number of subscribers, plus your open and click-through rates.

Keep in mind that these are long-term strategies. Some may take time to produce results. Additionally,, some may be harder to track, like brand awareness. But that’s okay — just because results may be hard to track doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

  1. Adopt new forums.
    When new social media or popular websites emerge, be an early adopter. There are many benefits to being an early adopter.

First, if you’re an early adopter, there’s less competition. Second, most of these websites start out free and have high engagement rates.

To be an early adopter, make sure you’re always in “the know.” Read industry news and research new, up-and-coming sites.

  1. Have a social media presence.
    Being on social media is a necessity in this day and age. In fact, in 2019 there are now 3.2 billion people on social media globally, so social media is a key tool for reaching your intended audience on whichever platforms they prefer.

Having a presence on social media instills trust in your current customers and prospects. Personally, if I see that a company doesn’t have a presence on social media, I lose trust and feel unsure if they even exist.

Plus, social media is a great way to build your credibility and reputation and showcase your brand. When potential customers are researching your brand, the first place they’ll look is social media to see what you’re putting out there and what people are saying about you.

  1. Make a website.
    Not to be repetitive, but again, to show up online, you have to have a website online. Besides social media, one of the first places people will go to find out more about your company is your website.

Your website is where you can show off your brand through colors, fonts, text, video, and images. You’ll appeal to your buyer persona’s pain points and present a solution to their problem.

To make a website, there are many CMS sites you can use, including HubSpot, Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace.

  1. Produce content.
    The more content you produce, the more opportunities you have to show up online. Having an online presence is all about showing up in search engines, on social media, and sites like YouTube.

To start producing content, strategize what places you want to show up online. Do you want to be on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Etsy, Poshmark, Goodreads, or Amazon?

Prioritize the sites your customers are active on (based on customer research) and start brainstorming content that is best-suited for those mediums.

For example, with YouTube, you’ll come up with video ideas — whereas on Instagram, you’ll come up with photo and caption ideas.

  1. Personify your brand.
    Building an online presence is a lot like building a brand. One tactic many companies use to build a brand is to personify their brand.

For example, The Skimm, a daily newsletter, personified their brand when they were founded in 2012. The founders created a persona called The Skimm Girl. This was the personification of their brand. They knew her likes, dislikes, age, job, financial situation, and sense of humor.

By personifying their brand, the company was able to appeal to their target demographic while staying true to their mission and values.

Having a clear brand helps users relate to your company and makes them want to engage with you, whether through a social media comment or by signing up for your email newsletter.

  1. Experiment with online advertising.
    A faster solution to building an online presence is through online advertising. If your ad shows up in the top search results, you’ll build brand awareness and increase your visibility online.

You can advertise on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Additionally, you can look into social media advertising. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are well-known for their advertising options.

Before you begin advertising online, brainstorm what you want to promote. Do you want to promote a certain content offer? Alternatively, perhaps you want to advertise your email newsletter?

Once you choose what it is you want to advertise, you’ll also need to decide on the platform that is best-suited (i.e. has the right audience) to promote that content on.

  1. Research influencer marketing.
    In order to stay active in your community, it’s important to engage with the most popular figures in your niche.

For instance, if you sell beauty products, you might consider researching beauty influencers on YouTube and Instagram. Many consumers look to influencers for their honest reviews and promotion before purchasing a product.

Additionally, influencer marketing will get the word out about your brand online. The more people are talking about you, the more often you’ll show up online.

  1. Be competitive.
    When you’re building an online presence, remember to be competitive. Look at what your competitors are doing and discuss whether or not that’s a good strategy for your business, as well.

You can also use your competitors to see what they’re missing. Is there a gap they aren’t filling? What information do customers want that your competitors aren’t providing?

Researching your competitors should give you ideas for content and strategies. You won’t be able to compete with or one-up your competitors if you aren’t sure what they’re doing.

  1. Develop relationships.
    Developing relationships with those in your industry is an important way to build your online presence.

For instance, if you have a relationship with blog writers or podcasters in your industry, they might feature you in their content. Perhaps they’ll ask you to guest post or appear on their podcast.

Forging relationships with others in your industry will ultimately help you show up online.

  1. Show up where your audience is.
    To show up online, you have to figure out where your audience is.

If your audience is on Instagram, but they aren’t on Twitter, you shouldn’t be putting all your efforts into Twitter. On the contrary, you should be focusing your content and promotion strategy on Instagram.

If you show up where your audience is, you’ll build a strong online presence that customers can’t ignore.

  1. Automate your process.
    Lastly, building an online presence includes a lot of tedious tactics.

In order to ensure the system runs smoothly, automate some of your processes. For instance, you can schedule your content to go live on your CMS and social media.

Additionally, you can curate other people’s content, which enables you to provide valuable resources for your audience without constantly creating fresh content.

You can also plan your email marketing newsletters in advance, and set up email sign-up forms on your site that show up automatically.

These marketing strategies can help you build your online presence, create brand awareness, and develop a strong reputation. Building an online presence requires effort, but over time it will pay off with increased sales and better brand awareness in your industry.

11 bad and outdated job-hunting tips you should stop believing

Gone are the days where you could send your resume to a few dozen companies, pour yourself into your best suit for the interview, and have a steady, 9-to-5 job with benefits and a pension.

Now, you’ll have to be a bit more inventive to get your dream job, said The Muse expert career coach Evangelia Leclaire.

“Job seekers need stop believing that a linear and congruent career path and long term employment at one or a few companies is what will give them a competitive edge,” Leclaire, who is also founder and chief evangelist of Ready Set Rock Academy, told Business Insider. “That’s just not the norm anymore.”

When you’re looking for a job, you don’t need to wear a suit to an interview or ignore opportunities that appear outside of your comfort zone. Plus, the advice “follow your passion” isn’t always the best.

picture thanks to insights.dice.com

 

Here are some more outdated job tips to discard:

“No matter what, follow your passion!”

You quit your job to open a cupcake bakery, because you love cupcakes. But then it doesn’t take off — so you give up and go back to the cubicle mines.

It didn’t have to be like that. Following your passion doesn’t always mean turning your most beloved hobby into a job.

Instead, think about why you enjoy baking cupcakes. Is it because you enjoy the chemistry behind baking? Serving others?

As Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson put it: “The important point is to not just follow your passion but something larger than yourself. It ain’t just about you and your damn passion.”

In other words, did the world need another cupcake store? Or could your “passion for cupcakes” be expressed in a more constructive fashion that could help others while being fulfilling for yourself?

 

“You really SHOULD get your MBA.”

We all know someone who insists that they should learn Chinese or get an MBA or start writing a novel.

Career and wellness coach Joanna Echols calls it “should-ing all over ourselves.”

“It starts with an assumption that somebody else knows better what’s right for you and what you should do,” Echols told Business Insider. “Claim back your personal power and let your own choices and decisions guide your job hunting process.”

And, above all, even if you think you should go into business, you probably won’t be very good at it if you’re just there because you think you should do it.

 

“All you need to do is make your résumé better, then you’ll get any job.”

Leclaire said you can re-design, beef up the key words, and edit your résumé all you want. It’s not going to make or break your career.

“That’s just a small sliver of the pie,” Leclaire said. “It’s not what moves the needle.”

She added: “Look at the big picture and take a holistic approach to your job search. Work on discovering and pursuing opportunities that fit you. Focus on your mindset, building relationships, networking, LinkedIn, job search strategy, your communication, maximizing your time, and more.”

 

“Networking is so awkward. It’s better to just avoid it.”

We often view networking as a bunch of people in a room being “fake.” But that’s only if you make it so.

“Share a concise and transparent version of your story, ask questions, and actively listen,” career coach Marc Dickstein told Business Insider. “Authentic curiosity is your ticket to a worthwhile conversation and a meaningful connection.”

Leclaire underlined curiosity, as well. She said you should try asking people, “What are you focusing on?” or, “I’d love to explore how I can support you.”

“These simple phrases take the pressure off of feeling like you need to sell yourself or have some polished elevator pitch every time you connect with someone,” Leclaire said. “Go about connecting with people from a place of curiosity and contribution.”

 

“You majored in Spanish, so clearly you’re not really a numbers person. Better stay away from those business analyst roles.”

People who believe that their abilities and interests are permanent are less likely to be interested in new information and fields, Business Insider’s Shana Lebowitz recently reported.

For instance, you may have concluded that you could never go into programming simply because “your brain doesn’t work like that.” But you don’t know if you would like coding, art, or some other field until you try it.

 

“If you apply to 30 places, for sure you’ll get a job somewhere.”

This is also called the “spray and pray,” Dickstein said.

It seems smart: you increase your odds by just increasing the number of recruiters who have your application in their pile. But alas, recruiters can usually see through this — and they won’t be calling you in for an interview.

“It’s easy for recruiters to identify thoughtful applications that are tailored to the opportunity,” Dickstein said.

 

“You should end your cover letter by saying, ‘I will call you on the 12th to schedule an interview.’”

You may have been told that you should end your cover letter with a “call to action” — or, tell them that you’ll be calling them to schedule an interview. It seems like a way to appear passionate about the position, while also guaranteeing an opportunity to explain yourself beyond the written word.

But don’t do it.

According to The Muse’s Lily Zhang, this cover letter line will make you seem “egotistical and possibly delusional.”

“I have no idea where this (threatening) advice originated from, but ending your cover letter like this will not give the impression that you’re a go-getter who takes initiative,” Zhang wrote.

 

“Hard skills are most important.”

There’s no denying that hard skills are important — but they’re not all that’s important. Maybe you know the right programming languages, speak Italian fluently, or can plow through projects.

Dickstein said those are all givens when you’re applying for highly competitive roles. The next step: Showing that you’re passionate, have the right social savvy to be a great leader, or are an amazing public speaker.

 

“That job hasn’t been posted online yet, so you probably shouldn’t apply.”

Maybe you caught wind that your dream company is opening a position that’s right for you.

Don’t hesitate just because there isn’t a link online to apply, Dickstein said. In fact, that’s really the opposite of what you should do — ask a contact or who you think is a hiring manager about the opening and how to apply.

“Hiring managers often know about functional needs and opportunities before they are made public,” Dickstein said. “In many cases, recruiters begin to fill the pipeline early and even begin to screen potential candidates.”

 

“Make sure your application is full of buzzwords!”

Lavishing on the buzzwords won’t make you look in-the-know. It will just annoy whoever is reading your application.

Buzzwords have become so overused that they’ve lost all meaning, Mary Lorenz, a corporate communications manager at CareerBuilder, previously told Business Insider. So, even if you are a “social media influencer” or someone who “thinks outside the box,” that really doesn’t mean much.

“Using some of these words won’t necessarily disqualify you, but make sure that you’re telling your story — not decorating it for the holidays,” Dickstein said.

Go for action words that actually communicate what you did. Dickstein recommended words like “achieved,” “negotiated,” “budgeted,” or “improved.”

 

“It’s just a job. Find something that pays well, even if it’s not all fun and games.”

You’ll spend around 90,000 hours of your life at work. If you hate every passing minute of your job, that adds up to a lot of misery.

Looking for a new job can be the perfect opportunity to seek out something that aligns with what you want to do with those 90,000 hours. Don’t just seek something that pays well — look for something that fulfills you.

“Your career choices can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing,” Echols said. “Lack of job satisfaction or work-related stress are major causes of anxiety, depression and other mental and physical disorders.”

Source : written by Rachel Premack for Theladders

How to Maintain Motivation in a Pandemic

Doing what’s meaningful — acting on what really matters to a person — is the antidote to burnout.

This article by Jane E. Brody was originally published on May 18, 2020 by the New York Times.

Maintaining motivation is becoming an increasing challenge for many people slogging through life curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Initially facing weeks confined to our homes, we tackled, with some satisfaction, long-neglected chores like weaning closets of clothes that no longer fit our bodies or lifestyles, reorganizing drawers and emptying pantries and refrigerators of forgotten foodstuffs.

But as the weeks morphed into months with no clear end in sight for much of the country, the ennui of Covid-induced isolation can undermine enthusiasm for such mundane activities, however rewarding they may have seemed at first. I’m among a growing number of people I’ve spoken with who admit to a lack of motivation for tasks they know need doing but now are unable to face.

For some, even working out can seem daunting when preferred activities like swimming or spin classes are no longer accessible.

Too many days I wake up wondering why I should bother to get up, a feeling contrary to my normal determination to use every waking moment to accomplish something worthwhile.

A friend schooled in Buddhist principles suggested that during these trying times I should cut myself some slack. But a laid-back approach doesn’t suit my goal-oriented, people-centered personality. I chose instead to consult a former New York Times colleague, Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and author of the highly influential book “Emotional Intelligence.”

Dr. Goleman explained that there are two kinds of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation refers to acts done to receive an external reward or outcome like wealth, power or fame, or in some cases to avoid punishment.

Intrinsic motivation involves behaviors done for their own sake that are personally rewarding, like helping other people, participating in an enjoyable sport or studying a fascinating subject. With intrinsic motivation, inspiration comes from within a person. It tends to be more forceful and the results more fulfilling.

“The stay-at-home edict has pushed so many of us into an external motivation mode that is making us face something that feels like lethargy and meaninglessness,” Dr. Goleman said.

“At the same time,” he added, “it’s a ripe opportunity to think about what really matters to us.” He cited the inspiring outlook of the legendary Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl, who survived four years in Nazi concentration camps sustained by a deep sense of purpose. Dr. Frankl’s rediscovered masterpiece, “Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything,” just published in English, offers a path to finding hope even in these dark times. It urges people to reflect on what really matters to them and search for ways to act on what is most meaningful.

“Doing what’s meaningful — acting on what really matters to a person — is the antidote to burnout,” said Dr. Goleman, who wrote the introduction to Dr. Frankl’s book. He suggests to those who are feeling bereft of motivation: “Face what’s happening. What does it mean to me? What really matters to me now? Is there a way I can act upon what’s meaningful to me?”

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, former Surgeon General of the United States and author of the recently published book, “Together,” explained this month on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on public radio, “Our fundamental worth is intrinsic. It’s based on kindness, compassion and generosity, the ability to give and receive love. Service to others has a powerful effect on how we feel about ourselves as well as on how it makes others feel. There are many opportunities to serve, to switch our focus from ourselves to others.”

As Dr. Goleman put it, “The news of the day constantly provides an unconscious reminder that we are all mortal. This can result in negative thought patterns — harsher judgments, blaming the victim, greediness and us-versus-them thinking. But if we consciously reflect on our own death, none of this matters. What really matters is the people we love and helping people.”

Richard J. Davidson, professor of psychology and neuroscientist at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has demonstrated that “when individuals engage in generous and altruistic behavior, they actually activate circuits in the brain that are key to fostering well-being.” In other words, caring for other people can be its own reward.

He reports that people whose emotional outlook is focused on the left side of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is activated by altruistic behavior, tend to be more positive. They’re more likely to become frustrated and irritated when their goals are thwarted, but this helps to mobilize their energy and ability to overcome the obstacles getting in the way of achieving their goals.

On the other hand, the right side of the prefrontal cortex acts as what Dr. Davidson calls a behavioral inhibitor that prompts people to give up more easily when the going gets tough. Such people tend to be overly cautious, fearful and risk-averse as well as not highly motivated.

Fear that we may never escape the threat of the new coronavirus can lead to feelings of futility. What is the point of doing anything if it will all come to naught in the end? Such thinking can certainly thwart motivation and result in a joyless, unrewarding existence. Instead, adopt a more positive approach by selecting goals that are attainable but still present a challenge.

For the many millions of us now limited by Covid-19, motivation might best be fostered by dividing large goals into small, specific tasks more easily accomplished but not so simple that they are boring and soon abandoned. Avoid perfectionism lest the ultimate goal becomes an insurmountable challenge. As each task is completed, reward yourself with virtual brownie points (not chips or cookies!), then go on to the next one.

But even more important than personal tasks you consider tackling, think about what you could do for other people within the constraints of social distancing or lockdown. If you can, contribute money to efforts to get more food, especially nutritious food that too often now goes to waste, to people who don’t have enough to eat as well as to our essential workers.

Perhaps bring a homemade meal or order a meal to be delivered to a friend or neighbor who is reluctant or unable to go beyond the front door. Susan McGee called from Bethesda, Md., to ask for a good recipe for cabbage soup. She had made pea soup for a 107-year-old friend who, after profuse thanks, said she really loves cabbage soup.

That got me thinking. I too could make my turkey-cabbage soup for a recently widowed neighbor who, while mourning the loss of her husband, is now having to weather coronavirus isolation all alone.

Brene Brown and Me by Debra Mugnani Monroe

French bull dog not walking

Hello! Wondering how you’re doing these days. Here’s what is happening for me after six weeks of sheltering in place. One day last week, my body and mind behaved like the French bulldog my neighbor takes out for walks. He often just stops in his tracks and refuses to budge. My mind was just done, tired of pushing through no matter what to get things done, to figure out what the best things to get done are, and to keep the wheels turning. I decided to pay attention and took a mental health day. Once I made the decision, I was able to get a few emails answered and the day was not a complete loss but it seems that respecting the French bull dog in me is wise. The next day I woke up and wasn’t feeling 100% but better so when 9 am rolled around, I hesitated to follow through and watch a webinar I’d registered for earlier in the week. It was featuring Brene Brown, an author I’ve long admired. I hesitated to attend because over the past six weeks of Covid-19 captivity, I have lost track of the number of webinars I’ve attended and I sometimes question if my time would be better spent on other things. I was also still feeling some French bulldog resistance. However, I remembered that inevitably when I do attend a webinar, there will be a really useful nugget or a veritable treasure trove of new and useful information waiting for me there.

I am learning as much as I can about the employer’s responsibilities and best practices during a pandemic so that we do what we need to do and so I can also offer our clients and employees helpful information. Many times I also leave with renewed hope about the future and a reminder that I’m not the only small business owner dealing with all this uncertainty and that we all really are in this together.

I decided to join the webinar. There was a Q and A area on the website and the audience of 30,000 was encourages to ask their questions for Brene and to include your name, title, company name and city. Because of yesterday’s experience, the question that was top of mind was this: Could you ask Brene to speak to stamina? As a small business owner I have a lot of experience dealing with crises but this crisis is going on for a much longer duration. Close to the end of the seminar, the moderator said she wanted to ask just one or two more questions and asked mine! It was so exciting to hear my name, company name and question asked and then to see Brene looking right at me through zoom and say, “I am a CEO too and I know what you mean. You’ve got to understand this isn’t a crisis, this is a marathon. What I recommend is a soccer term, which is taking time to ‘settle the ball.” The idea is sometimes in a game or in life or in business it’s important to pause, look at the field and reassess or decide what the next sensible move is. Not all moves will lead to a point scored but your odds are much better if you take a minute to settle the ball and make a calculated play. This reframe is an important one to remember. We’re in a marathon, and for some of us, probably more of an Spartan or Big Mudder, so we need those days where we put on the brakes and take a pause, regroup, settle the ball and charge forward again with renewed gusto. I’m sharing a link to a recent episode of Brene’s podcast where she speaks about our collective weariness and expands on the idea of settling the ball.

So after listening to Brene’s wisdom, now I see that my French Bull Dog self was telling me to stop and take a pause. I’m glad I listened and I’m glad I watched the webinar too.

Please take good care of yourselves and pay attention to your self care needs. None of us have been through a pandemic before and we are all doing the best we can. Let’s take it one day at a time and remember, today, we are one day closer to the end of this thing.

Here’s the link: https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-on-comparative-suffering-the-50-50-myth-and-settling-the-ball/

5 fun new ideas for virtual meetups!

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As we’ve started to figure out a new normal in the time of social distancing, we’ve been enjoying virtual happy hours and catch-up chats with friends and family members. But after a few weeks, we’re getting fatigued by days spent staring at a screen. Given that, people started to get creative and mix up our virtual social lives with themed events!! Check out these ideas to refresh your virtual meetups:
Cookie club: Invite a few friends to make cookies together (but separately!). Choose a fairly simple recipe and follow the steps together, then catch up on life while your cookies bake. Finish with a glass of cold milk and enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Tea party: Invite your family members to join you for a virtual tea party. Wear hats, make yourselves a cup of tea, and settle in for a cozy chat about the good old days.
Beer night: Crack open a cold beer with a few buddies and talk about anything except coronavirus.
Smells like teen spirit: Gather some old friends and ask them to join you for a middle school dance-themed virtual get-together. Wear something your 13-year-old self would’ve considered the peak of fashion and queue up a vintage playlist on Spotify. Come prepared to share a heartwarming (or mortifying) memory.
Bust a move: Grab a few up-for-anything friends and try out a dance-inspired workout together. Getting your blood pumping is great for your mental and physical health–and now’s the perfect time to finally take all those ballet, hip hop, or Latin classes you always wanted to try.
Written by Sarah for Team Moment