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Ace Proper Introductions with the Best Kept Insights

If you’re serious about building your personal brand, learning to ace proper introductions is a must. Elevating someone else’s profile is a win-win situation. Here’s how to do it well!

First, let’s get on the same page. When I stress the importance of learning how to do proper introductions, I don’t just refer to etiquette. Which of course, we’ll cover here in a minute. I’m also referring to learning what to say about the people you’re introducing.

Way too often people miss a prime opportunity to look good by making others shine. It’s such a gracious thing to do that it has always puzzled me that so few people know how to do it well. One occasion to make others look great is when you introduce them. Whether it is during the introduction of a speaker at a large conference, an individual contributor at an internal meeting, or a colleague at a cocktail party, by conducting proper introductions you stand out as a powerful professional and a great connector.

Always know what to say about others in order to make not only the proper introductions but memorable introductions.

Always know what to say about others in order to make not only the proper introductions but memorable introductions.

The etiquette of proper introductions

So let’s get the protocol down first and focus on what to say about the people you introduce later.

1After you name the person with higher hierarchy in the conversation, the person considered of lower rank or social hierarchy should be introduced to the person of higher rank. Meaning: Introduce the younger analyst to the senior executive. The proper introduction would be: “Mrs. Peters, let me introduce to you Martin Smith, one of our brilliant analysts. Martin, this is Mrs. Alice Peters, our Senior Vice President of Marketing.”

2A work colleague should be introduced to a client: “Julia, let me introduce you to Margaret Thomson, one of the most brilliant marketers in our company. Margaret, as you know, Julia Rodríguez is our largest distributor in the Midwest.”

3Introduce your newest acquaintance to someone you know better. When introducing colleagues at an informal occasion, name first the colleague you met most recently (or are less familiar with.) “Johanna, let me introduce you to Glen Williams. He’s new at our firm and could use some friends. Glen, Johanna Gómez has been a great mentor of mine for most of my career.” If you forgot the name of your latest acquaintance, you can look at them as you are making the introduction and say: “Sorry, what was your full name again?”

4If they are of similar hierarchy, introduce men to women as a sign of deference. “John, let me introduce you to Sonia.”

5In a social context, younger people are introduced to older people. Your boyfriend to your aunt. “Aunt Letty, let me introduce you to John, my boyfriend. John, this is my mother’s sister, aunt Letty.”

6Also in a social setting, it’s a sign of proper introduction to present your friends to your family. Here, your family has “higher hierarchy” than your friends.

And just a note: When you are at a social gathering, wait for an opening before you make your introduction. It’s best to avoid interrupting someone who is engaged in conversation as they won’t be as receptive.

Make it your business to know what to say about others to make them interesting to those to whom you're introducing them.

Make it your business to know what to say about others to make them interesting to those to whom you’re introducing them.

What to say about the people you are introducing

Now that we’ve covered the etiquette around proper introductions, let’s focus on the important task of what to say about those you are introducing. Keep in mind that even though the stated purpose of the introduction is for two people to meet or for a group of people to learn something about a speaker before he/she presents, there are many benefits of being introduced rather than introducing yourself.

  • It’s easier for others to compliment your performance, speak of your reputation or put you on a pedestal than for you to do it yourself.
  • It conveys immediate credibility.
  • It conveys authority.

As the situations can vary widely, here are three tips that apply to the majority of cases.

1Learn as much as you can about the person you are introducing to someone of higher hierarchy. Then phrase it in a way that underscores their unique contributions. “Alice, this is Keisha Lawrence, the engineer who came up with the solution to avoid the delay in our product launch. I know we are all grateful that we launched on time, but I thought you’d like to meet the person who made it possible. Keisha, Alice is our Senior VP. She’s been a champion of this product from the beginning.”

2Express the common ground. As you’re hopefully introducing two people so they can carry out a conversation without further intervention on your part, make sure to mention the reason you think they should connect. It could relate to work, hobbies, shared experiences or people they know in common. “Tom, meet Lisa Jenkins, the head of HR at Acme Inc. She’s looking for a new D&I program and I told her about the success you’ve been having with the latest initiative you brought to your organization. Lisa, this is Tom Collins, VP of HR at XYC Corp.”

3When introducing speakers, highlight a few amazing accomplishments. Express how honored you are that they’re presenting for this particular audience. Quite often, event organizers let timing constraints interfere with proper presentations. They skip through them with phrases like: “Well, I’ll let Tim introduce himself.” Or “I’m only going to say a few things because I know you want to hear Carolina speak and not me.”

Read about my story as a Latina speaker here.

Don’t fool yourself. This reeks of lack of preparation. It reflects poorly on you and it puts your speaker in an awkward situation. Why? Because one of the benefits of a proper introduction is that it conveys authority. It leaves a fertile terrain for the speaker to present their content from a place of inherent trust. Do it properly and you make their job much easier. As a result, the speaker will be grateful and your colleagues will want to be on the receiving end of one of your future introductions.

Without a doubt conducting proper introductions is a unique chance to show your leadership while shining the light on others. Now it’s your turn to put these insights into practice. So, who will you introduce next?

How to give constructive feedback to a colleague effectively

As a Human Resources Executive, people frequently ask me: How can I give constructive feedback to a colleague without hurting them? Today I share with you how to do it successfully.

There’s no doubt that our current networks of multidisciplinary and diverse teams enrich our work and promote innovative solutions. The constant interaction with others to reach common goals, however, has its own challenges. One of them is evidenced when we know a colleague could benefit from some constructive feedback about a behavior that affects their work, and we don’t know the best way to deliver it.

One of the Red Shoe Movement’s 7 Principles is anchored around the value of feedback. It encourages us to give honest feedback to other women in our network avoiding hurtful or unnecessary criticism. And the core RSM methodology (the RSM Circles,) is partly based on ongoing feedback among colleagues.

Giving constructive feedback is a cornerstone of the 7 Principles of the RSM

Giving constructive feedback is a cornerstone of the 7 Principles of the RSM

In fact, due to our social nature, humans tend to look for external validation and are motivated by what others have to say. There is plenty of research around this. One survey conducted this year by the international leadership consulting firm Zenger/Folkman found out that 65% of the people surveyed would like to receive more feedback, and 57% said they preferred to get feedback about what they need to improve rather than what they do well.

To give effective feedback is one of the most generous gifts one can offer a colleague. To give feedback in a constructive way, however, you must keep in mind certain rules. The secret for feedback to be delivered effectively can be found in the answer to these three questions.

Three questions help you provide constructive feedback effectively

Three questions help you provide constructive feedback effectively

1Is my colleague open to receiving feedback?

The first thing to consider when thinking about giving feedback to a peer is whether they are emotionally open to receiving it, particularly if your feedback is about something that they need to improve or change in the future. Despite a positive intent to help, your feedback might be touching on a sensitive topic. It is worth noting that often at work we get to know only one aspect of the other person’s reality. We are usually unaware of other areas of their personal history, past experiences, beliefs, and limitations. That’s why it’s important, s to ask if the other person is open to feedback. Here’s how you could frame the question,, “Louise, I have some observations related to the presentation you gave on Monday. Would you be interested in discussing them?”

2Do I have specific and objective information to give constructive feedback?

If our colleague is willing to receive feedback, it is important to offer it properly. For that to happen you must have thorough information about the situation you wish to address in order to frame it correctly. The more objective and specific the information you have, the better. Try to avoid vague observations that will not allow the other person to know what they need to change moving forward. For example, avoid a comment such as, “Louise, I think your behavior is unprofessional in team meetings”. This type of feedback is not only too generic but also it focuses on personality, which will make the other person more defensive and less likely to hear what you have to say. The correct way to give constructive feedback would be: “Louise, I noticed that in team meetings you tend to speak over other people which is not well received and affects the mood of the meeting.”

3Is my feedback constructive and will it help my colleague improve?

The third Red Shoe Movement Principle talks about the spirit in which feedback should be offered. “Provide honest feedback to the women in your network and avoid hurtful comments or unnecessary criticism.” Emotions play an important role in giving and receiving feedback. My advice is to keep them under control, especially if you are giving feedback around a behavior that has frustrated you in the past. When it comes to non-verbal communication, it is better to sit side by side (to level the playing field,) speak in a direct and pleasant tone of voice and be aware of the other person‘s reactions to your words. If you notice that your feedback is not being well received, invite your colleague to express their own point of view rather than imposing yours. For example, you could say something like: “Louise, I can see that you have a different view of the situation. Would you like to share your point of view?”

Learn how to frame your feedback and you will not only help a colleague but also strengthen the relationship.

Learn how to frame your feedback and you will not only help a colleague but also strengthen the relationship.

Giving feedback to a colleague who is a peer requires certain level of maturity and sensitivity to avoid hurting anybody’s feelings or negatively impacting the working relationship. You should not refrain from offering honest feedback, however, since doing so could deny your colleague of a valuable learning lesson and an opportunity to adjust professional competencies that could contribute to their future growth. Genuine, timely feedback that is delivered properly can not only work magic for the professional development of your colleague but also strengthen your working relationship. After all, taking the time to give constructive feedback to your peers is a concrete demonstration of your interest in their career success.

 

Art of Self-Promotion – Principles, Strategies & Your Script

The art of self-promotion, is essential for success. Find out the main principles that rule this leadership competency, the winning strategies and how to create an influential conversation about your value.

In my last self-promotion post we discussed how essential a leadership competency it is. Today, I’m sharing with you insights on the art of self-promotion than few people reveal. Let’s get started.

Part of mastering the art of self-promotion is to learn to include the contributions of others as you naturally weave-in yours in a conversation.

Part of mastering the art of self-promotion is to learn to include the contributions of others as you naturally weave-in yours in a conversation.

Principles to Help you Embrace the Art of Self-Promotion

The art of self-promotion is strongly anchored in your personal brand. And in order to brand yourself you must first understand your personality, passions, interests, and talents. Performance alone won’t speak for itself. Self-promotion is a leadership competency that is essential for communicating your talent and establishing your credibility.

  1. First, ‘know thyself’ – Understand your personal value proposition. Authenticity is the foundation of the art of self-promotion. It provides you with the confidence you need to communicate the value you add to the organization. A little later, I will provide an exercise to allow you to write a clear script that identifies your strengths in ways that speak to the language of business outcomes. Your personal value proposition should be complimentary to the business needs, and in alignment with others’ goals and interests. Including others on your self-promotion formula can help you minimize, or avoid, resentment. Your personal value proposition should encompass past achievements, current impact, and future potential contributions.
  1. No one climbs Everest alone – There is a myth that self-promotion means to advocate for oneself. In other words that it’s about stating ‘just the facts/ just MY facts’. But the reality is that there are a variety of different methods you can use to showcase your talents. Speaking about your teams’ accomplishments is another effective way to expand your own leadership and gain visibility. By doing so, you indirectly showcase your judgment, decision-making skills, and contributions while you promote others.

5 Key Strategies to Ace the Art of Self-Promotion

To strategically, and healthily self-promote, as well as endorse and promote others consider these actions:

1Personal Board of Directors (Sponsor, Mentor, and a Peer Advisor): Create a group of support to ensure you have people with your best interest in mind who can help you build and promote your personal brand. Personal branding is about people’s perception of you. Of the image you project. You don’t need to do it alone. Your Sponsor is a champion, your Mentor is a guide, and your Peer Advisor is a consultant that sees you in action and gives you feedback to keep you honest and in alignment with your goals.

  • Sponsor: strategically seek the support and championship of someone with a position of authority and visibility to help you build awareness of your accomplishments. Someone who believes in you and fights for your legacy.
  • Mentor: strategically select someone to advice you on how to navigate the culture of the organization, identify key relationships to foster, and coach you on how to be effective. Someone who encourages and guides you to take calculated risks (such as accepting stretch assignment to display your potential.) Someone who can celebrate your boldness and who helps you recover when something doesn’t go as planned.
  • Peer Advisor: choose a colleague with whom you have frequent interactions and sees you perform in most aspects of your job. This is a person with a clear understanding of your role and responsibilities, including your cross-functional and multidisciplinary expertise. This person also needs to be clear about your goals and the support and guidance your Sponsor and Mentor provide in order to give you just-in-time feedback on how you are doing. This person is your “guardian angel,” someone you trust enough to be vulnerable with.

2Networking: attend professional events and make strategic and meaningful connections. Seek opportunities to share and collaborate in these forums. Actions speak louder than words, assuming an active role in these forums (being a panelist, facilitating a workshop, committing to a speaking engagement, etc.,) will allow you the opportunities to display your talents. This is a chance for people to learn about you in an indirect and modest way. One last note: Make sure to reciprocate if you rely on other people to give you a boost!

3Buddy System: establish a group of colleagues or friends with a shared goal of supporting and promoting one another. (This is at the core of the Red Shoe Movement Principles and what their methodology is all about.) This could be done in meetings, social media, and professional networks. You can support the effort by publicizing each other’s wins. All of this can be done in the spirit of promoting one another, but also of sharing knowledge.

4Passive: this is a subtle way to “feature” your accomplishments. Display awards, prices, recognitions, important degrees or certification in strategic places in your workstation. When you do it in good taste it becomes a quiet endorsement of your brand. Keep a professional bio available. Have a concise, yet relevant profile describing your qualifications in social media platforms including LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, etc.

5Just the Facts: this is how most people know about self-promotion. But “just the facts” it’s not only about giving a “speech” where you talk about your accomplishments. Weaving the facts into a conversation can be a very effective yet subtle method of self-promotion. (See an example below.)

For your personal brand to have a positive impact it must be authentic. That provides the foundation to talk about your value.

For your personal brand to have a positive impact it must be authentic. That provides the foundation to talk about your value.

A Winning Script to Effectively Share Your Value

Now that you have the principles and the strategies, here is a suggested three-prong self-promotion script to help you effectively communicate and showcase “just the facts.”

  1. State the current paradigm (the business challenge and/ or potential )
  2. Determine how to introduce the challenge into a “boast.”
  3. Make the boast, and give credit where credit is due!

Example of a Three-Prong Self-Promotion Script:

Rebecca, I just successfully closed the mega-deal with XYZ Company we’ve been working on for sixe months. It was not easy, as they are strong negotiators, but with the support of our research team, I drove home a $10 million dollars deal.

Notice the emphasis on your strength in handling a difficult negotiation, the inclusion of your team, and your ability to close a deal that will have a great impact on the bottom-line.

Final Words on Self-Promotion

Self-promotion is strongly anchored in your personal brand

Self-promotion is strongly anchored in your personal brand so it’s critical to understand who you are before you talk about your value.

The art of self-promotion is critical for one’s success no matter what your position in the organization. A word of advice, it takes practice, practice, practice. Practice makes perfect and it gives you confidence. Think about this: Professional salespeople make hundreds of sales calls a day. This constant repetition makes selling less scary. Similarly, the more you practice, the more natural your self-promoting becomes.

Remember to talk about outcomes, be matter-of-fact, make your self-promotion relevant, draw future applications, and individualize your accomplishments while including others!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Your Actions Support Your Personal Brand?

Your personal brand comes across in your everyday actions and words. When there’s dissonance, credibility comes into question.

I loved Courtney, my yoga instructor. She was extremely flexible, gave very clear directions and held the most perfect poses. Until one day she started to ask the viewers of her videos to comment about her outfit.

Personal Brand quote by Mariela Dabbah - Your personal brand is the experience others have of you. Are your actions and words consistent with what you'd like to project?

Every day you can impact in a positive or negative way your personal brand.

“Do you like Courtney in a monochromatic outfit or do you like her more when she’s wearing a crazy two color combination one?” Come again? I’m practicing yoga, not watching Project Runway! Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. On the next video, she asked viewers: “You may have noticed I have my hair straight today. Do you prefer it like this or curly? Leave me a comment.” I was so frustrated with this display of narcissism and insecurity that I started keeping the volume off during the first few minutes of each video. Her lack of alignment between her personal brand as a respected yoga instructor and her questions on appearance was making me lose respect for her.

After a while, I decided to find a different guru. Someone who took the practice more seriously. I looked at a bunch of different videos and settled for Jen, another talented teacher with a warm demeanor and easy to follow even when you were in Downward Dog, not looking at the screen. She and I moved through Warrior One to Triangle Poses together like we had been doing this for a long time. And then, on the third video she asked: “You may have noticed I have a couple of tattoos. I’m thinking of getting another one. So I’d like to know, do you like tattoos? Should I hide them? Leave me a comment.” Really? Don’t you have friends who could answer that question? And while you’re at it, couldn’t you ask for some feedback in terms of how these inquiries affect your personal brand?

You may enjoy this piece about my great aunt Marietta's personal brand.

Now, what does this have to do with you, you wonder. A lot. Because Courtney and Jen are two professional yoga instructors who I assume do yoga videos for a variety of reasons:

  • To get their personal brand out there
  • To attract students to their private and group classes
  • To attract potential endorsements
  • To drive traffic to their websites where they sell merchandise and classes
  • To build a personal brand as experts and be invited to wellness retreats

And so on.

Personal brand quote by Mariela Dabbah - "Your daily words & behavior reinforce or damage your personal brand"

Beware of any dissonance between what you’d like to be known for and how you behave.

And when rather than keeping the viewer’s attention on the results he/she is getting from the practice the instructors turn the attention to themselves, they blow their personal brand. Suddenly, the viewer feels dragged into a conversation about which she couldn’t care less. Let’s face it. If I had wanted to exercise my right to an opinion, I would’ve tuned into The Voice or Dancing with the Stars. I tuned into this channel to practice yoga. I have allocated half an hour to my practice every day and I don’t care about your hair or the color of your pants. If you want to engage me, then ask me about something that is important to me. Like, “Has your flexibility improved from when we first started today? Have you been able to breathe throughout the various poses?”

By moving the focus of attention from my results to their need to be validated, the instructors also do a disservice to themselves because inevitably I think less of them as professionals. As a result of shining a light on superficial aspects of themselves that have no connection with what they do, I question their credibility as top yoga instructors. Because suddenly, I think that if their hair, outfits and tattoos are so important to them perhaps they don’t take yoga as seriously as they want me to believe.

My question to you is this, Do people who have interactions with you experience a similar kind of disconnect between what you are trying to project (your personal brand) and your behavior and words? Do you fall into the trap of focusing on your appearance and other superficial aspects rather on delivering your best product or performance?

Here's a sharp post about the impact of your brand as you prepare for a job interview

It’s easy to perceive the disconnect between a yoga master and her inquiring about whether she should get more tattoos or not. But in our daily professional lives we see examples of this dissonance all the time. And they can be the undoing of any personal brand.

Stop for a minute to take stock of the perception others have of you. Because that’s all a personal brand is. The perceptions others have of you. Their experience with you. Does it align well with the person you want to be known for? With how you want to be remembered? If not, you have some work to do.

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Self Promotion is a Leadership Competency – Striking the right tone

Effective self-promotion, is essential for success, yet one of the main hurdles for women in business to overcome.

Most women have grown up with the idea that hard work will get them noticed. When in fact it is the strategic, effective, and explicit promotion of their achievements and their potential what gets women’s hard work noticed. The key, of course, is that all of it must be presented in an appropriate manner and context.

Unfortunately, this misconception around self-promotion is pervasive throughout all levels of an organization. A study on senior executive women conducted by Women of Influence suggests that the same challenges faced by many women in middle management still surface among women in senior management roles. The well-known secret for the sustainability of a successful career (regardless of gender or level in the organization,) however, is in fact ongoing self-promotion paired with political shrewdness.

Self promotion inspirational quote by Lily Benjamin - Communicating your accomplishments and value proposition doesn't only benefit you; it also benefits your team, peers and the organization

Understanding the real definition of self-promotion enables you to take full advantage of its power for career growth.

Redefining self-promotion

So it’s time to redefine self-promotion in order to really understand what it entails and learn how to do it gracefully, strategically, and effectively.

First, self-promotion is a leadership competency

The competency of self-promotion encompasses acting with intent, being assertive, and negotiating along the way. These are all fundamental leadership skills to influence vital stakeholders and gain access to networks in order to advance shared business goals.

Second, it’s not just about you

Communicating your accomplishments and value proposition doesn’t only benefit you; it also benefits your team, peers, and the organization. Any leader without this competency cannot actively engage others when promoting and selling her/his vision. The impact of a team is a clear indication of its leader’s abilities. Hence, when a leader promotes the accomplishment of their team, they are not only motivating their people but they are also indirectly promoting their own leadership capabilities.

Get over fear of speaking in public so you can effectively use self-promotion anywhere.

The challenge of self-promotion for women

Charlotte du Val d'Ognes by Marie Denise Villers from the MetMuseum Collection

Women were not raised to self-promote. We need to change that! Painting: Charlotte du Val d’Ognes by Marie Denise Villers from the MetMuseum Collection-

The concept of self-promotion is particularly taxing for women because they are not only challenged with the genetic predisposition to ‘tend or befriend’ that results in them putting others before themselves, but also with social norms of humility and modesty. This is very different from what men experience. Their genetic predisposition drives them to ‘fight or flight’, which generally means they put themselves before others, while social norms encourage their bragging rights. These are some of the main reasons why men are not only inclined to self-promote but when they do, they are perceived as competent and impressive. Whereas when women do the same they are perceived negatively as showoffs.

Being gender intelligent is essential to break through this inevitable genetic and social conundrum, as self-promotion is critical for a successful career path and for greater impact on business results.

Though we can’t change genetic predispositions, through awareness and behavior modification we can address social norms to successfully display a sense of self-worth, confidence, and competence.

Learning about being more assertive can help you master self-promotion.

Myths

Generally speaking, women admit that often the greatest barriers to effectively self-promote are themselves. But it’s also true that a lot of the social norms and myths reinforce these obstacles. So, let’s debunk several of those myths about self-promotion.

Myths about self-promotion
Myth Rationalization Fact
The Bitch “Self promotion will make me look arrogant.” Self-promotion done well is essential to a successful career. It gives the opportunity for others to learn and benefit from your contributions.
The Princess “If I’m good enough, people will hear about it.” (The princess waits for her knight…) Women need to take action to promote their contributions, rather than wait for the recognition to come to them. People are too busy to notice the contributions of others. No one can advocate better for your attributes than you can.
The Friends and Family ”Others (people who know me) should talk about my accomplishments, not me.” Relying on word of mouth alone, without influencing the key messages can be counter productive.   Effectively owning and promoting your personal brand and value to others, pays off big dividends.
The Martyr “You can’t control what people think anyway.” Women can influence what others think of them, by believing in themselves and displaying confidence through the quality of your work. The impact they have on other people, their teams, and organizations will strengthen your personal brand.
Self Promotion quote by Lily Benjamin

Achieving the competency of self-promotion is key to your career success

Your take away on self-promotion…

Self-promotion is an essential leadership skill. Learn how to believe on your strengths and attributes, while observing the impact you have on others and on business results. Then, share the value you and others add. Strengthen this leadership skill to further strengthen your confidence and reputation, while enjoying your continued success!

Look out for my upcoming post on successful self-promotion strategies!