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  • How to Dress Professionally Sep 11, 2019

    You would think someone being interviewed on television would dress professionally, but unfortunately not everyone knows to do this. The host of a television show about my local job market was interviewing two women — one the chief economist of a regional business association and the other a newspaper journalist who reports on international business. The chief economist was dressed in a business suit and her hair was neatly combed. She sat up straight and looked at either the host or camera when answering questions. The journalist, by stark contrast, was dressed casually in slacks and shirt. Her hair looked wet, as if she had just gotten out of the shower or pool. She slouched in her chair and looked at her lap a lot of the time. Both women were very knowledgeable and had a lot of useful information to convey to the audience. However, I had more faith in what the economist had to say than I did in what the reporter said. Why? The way they carried themselves.

    Maybe the current trend toward casual dress at work has made people more lax about what they wear. In addition, many people work from home where there are no rules regarding dress. As a remote worker, I can tell you that I don't give much thought to what I wear while working at home. While I don't work in a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, unless of course I'm working at 1 a.m., if it's good enough for the supermarket or picking up my daughter at school, I can wear it to sit in front of my computer. When I give a presentation, though, it's a whole different story. I try to look my professional best, in a skirt, blouse, jacket, and dress shoes. I make sure my hair and makeup are neatly done. In other words, I dress for success.

    Why You Must Dress Professionally for Certain Situations

    Maybe it's unjust to judge a book by it's cover, but we all do it. It's human nature. While the person in jeans may be as competent and as intelligent as the one wearing the formal suit, or more so, we do assess these attributes based on appearance. That's not to say you can forget about preparing for a presentation, put on a nice suit, and you'll wow 'em. All the ingredients -- knowledge, preparation, and appearance — are necessary to make a good impression.

    When you work at home or in an office where casual attire is the norm, it's difficult to get out of that role and into the role of the professional in front of the audience or in front of a television camera. But, if you want to make a good impression, it's worth the effort. Here's what you need to do.

    How to Dress Professionally

    Should you go out and purchase a suit for the one or two times a year you'll have to make a presentation? It's probably a good idea. You should buy something classic. After all, if you're only going to wear the suit a couple of times a year, you don't want it to go out of style too quickly. Women can probably get away with a nice skirt and jacket, while men can wear dress trousers and a jacket. There's also nothing wrong with a pant suit for women. If you're going to be in front of the camera, some special rules apply. Wear neutral colors — dark blue or grey are good, don't wear large or glitzy jewelry, but a watch will work.

    Now about your hair. Your hair should be neat and clean. Try to keep it out of your face. As for makeup (for you women out there), keep it simple. If you're going to be on camera, you should stay away from anything iridescent, frosted, or glittery -- matte is best.

    As your mother may have told you, sit up straight. When you slouch you look bored. If you're bored, how do you expect your audience to feel? You'll also look more confident if you're sitting or standing up straight. Look like you're happy to be there. Put a smile on your face. Don't fidget, bite your nails, or play with any jewelry you are wearing. Oh yeah — don't forget to breathe.
  • Four Steps to Streamline and Grow Your Business Aug 27, 2019

    Studying business best practices, one of the most significant things you’ll see about successful companies is that they streamline their operations. This process allows them to continue to drive the growth of the company. Streamlining is not easy to define since it differs from one organization to another.

    The best way to think of streamlining is to view it as an exercise designed to minimize overhead while maximizing productivity and profitability. There are several options available to you to use as a starting point.

    Human resources

    One of the first things you need to do is a productivity study on each of your employees. You should look at each job description so that you can see what they should be doing. Compare this with what they produce. Track their performance to see how productive they are compared with their colleagues.

    When you spot an employee who is not being utilized fully or who is not productive, don’t rush to judgment and fire them. Investigate the causes first. The problem could lie with the company if the person has not had the necessary training to equip them with the skills needed to perform their job function. The employee might not have been assigned enough work.


    Where you might have thought you had a vacancy, you could fill it with an underutilized employee’s time. With enough training, an employee’s productivity is sure to increase.

    Filing

    A lot of companies insist on keeping hard copy records of everything. It is not always necessary. Some documents are needed in their original form, such as contracts. However, a lot of records don’t need to be printed and filed.

    There are top document management software options that allow you to store your paperwork electronically. Choose one that suits the needs of your organization.

    You’ll save on physical office space that might have been taken up by files and document boxes. You’ll also be able to access documents at the touch of a button, instead of spending hours searching for them manually.

    Outsourcing

    There are some business functions that you cannot afford to employ someone full-time to perform. This is often the case with small companies and those organizations new to the market.

    Recruitment and selection are a specialized function, which is best left to a professional. Copywriting for your marketing campaign is also something better not left to chance.

    If your digital marketing is ineffective, your business won’t grow. In the initial stages, you might not need a full-time accountant. These are not tasks that you can delegate to just anyone to fill up their working day.

    Freelancers can perform these functions. You only need to pay them for the number of hours they work. If you don’t have work for them, you don’t have to remunerate them. When outsourcing, you have the world at your feet. There’s no need to take on a freelancer who lives down the road when you can connect with a broader pool of applicants online.

    Cut costs

    You might be spending a lot more money than you should on services like telephones, cellphones, and power. Scrutinize your bills to see if there are ways you can cut costs. For example, fixing a leaking pipe will save you a lot of money on the water bill of your office complex in the long run.

    Check out your service providers’ competition to see if you can get better deals to help you reduce overhead costs. Try to stockpile consumables such as paper when your supplier is offering a discount. Simple cost savings like these might not amount to much on their own, but they add up when you put them together.
  • 5 Business Travel Tips for Corporate Travelers Jun 19, 2019

    Traveling for business purposes can be very exhausting, especially if you have to do it frequently. While many people think this type of lifestyle is filled with adventure, it’s usually quite the opposite. Aside from not being able to be home as much as you want, you’ll constantly have to deal with different time zones, work, and subpar hotels. Although it may be exciting in the beginning, as a corporate traveler you quickly learn just how tiring and stressful it is. In order you travel for business frequently, here are some tips that will make your trips more bearable.

    Learn How to Reduce Your Stress Levels

    There are a number of things that can go wrong on a trip. For example, you may experience an unplanned delay or miss your flight. However, what you need to remember is that certain situations are simply out of your control, so there is no point in panicking or getting angry because of them. If you allow stress to get the best of you, your trip will become even more unbearable. This is why you need to learn how to manage your stress levels. Consider trying breathing techniques or calling a friend or family member to calm down. It’s also a good idea to listen to your favorite album or watch some interesting YouTube videos. Try doing anything that could help keep your mind off the situation that caused you stress in the first place.

    Go Sightseeing

    Just because you’re traveling for business doesn’t mean you should skip sightseeing and other fun activities during your trip. Do research on the place you’re visiting before you go and make a list of places you’d like to see. In case you don’t have the time to compile a list yourself you can go to Tourist Secrets, where you can find the best places to visit, no matter which city you travel to. Don’t just stay in your hotel room when you have free time. Explore your surroundings in order to make every business trip more enjoyable.

    Eat Healthy

    Traveling often can be quite exhausting. In order to have enough energy to endure frequent trips, you should start eating healthy. Consider packing some healthy snacks to avoid eating fast food. Know that you’ll often have limited food options during your business trips, especially if you’re in meeting all day long. This is why it’s always good to pack a few energy bars. Make sure the snacks your pack don’t crumble or melt. Aside from eating healthy, it’s also recommended you stay hydrated to maintain your energy levels and improve brain function.

    Exercise

    Your business trips should consists of more than just going to meetings, drinking, and sleeping. It’s crucial you maintain a healthy lifestyle even when you’re abroad. There are a lot of different benefits of exercising for both your physical and mental health. When you’re looking for a hotel, try booking one that has a gym. By working out on your business trips, you will increase your happiness levels and improve your focus. On top of that, you’ll be less likely to experience sleep problems due to jet lag.

    Have Good Travel Insurance

    One of the most important things you can do when going to a different country is to make sure you have good travel insurance. Although it won’t be pleasant if you get sick or injured during your business trip, you will have a much worse experience if you don’t have travel insurance. Just imagine the medical bills you’d have to pay and the stress you’d have to endure if you ate something that gave you food poisoning and didn’t have travel insurance. On the other hand, if you have it, you can count on getting immediate medical care and getting back on your feet quickly.
  • How To Make A Great Impression At Meetings Mar 5, 2019

    Everyone knows that a first impression can make-or-break a business deal. And, when it comes to meetings with important partners and/or clients, it’s essential that you know how to consistently put your best foot forward. Here are a few tips to help you do it.

    #1 Smile

    Giving a genuine smile to someone upon greeting them will instantly help settle nerves for both of you. However, make sure it doesn’t look inauthentic. If you smile too widely, it’s easy for someone to perceive you as nervous or--worse--arrogant.

    #2 Shake Hands

    A small smile and polite hello paired with a great handshake will help you make a great impression every time. But, learning the “right” handshake is tricky. You want to have a firm but not overly tight squeeze, and it can’t last for too long. Just a split second over what the person expects and it can easily turn awkward.

    The answer? Practice with people who have known you for many years. This allows you to shake their hand and get their honest opinion on it. It might seem silly, but the practice will certainly pay off down the road.

    #3 Introduce Yourself

    The verbal introduction is another big part of making the right impression. If you’re greeting a room of individuals, you should definitely state your name so everyone knows it. Depending on the context, you might go down the line and greet each individual in the room as well, remembering to smile and shake hands as you do.

    Planning your introduction will help you be efficient while avoiding awkward silences or going off on a tangent. So, think about the meeting before you go in and consider how you will introduce yourself to the room. You might even plan your transition to kick off the discussion.

    #4 Speak Clearly

    Most people have a lot of great things to say. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to speak properly.

    Speaking too softly or even too loudly can negatively impact how people see you. Speak too softly and they will struggle to hear, and be more likely to perceive you as unconfident or nervous. Speak too loudly and they may perceive you as anxious, rude, self-consumed, or (at the very least) hard-of-hearing.

    You should learn how to properly control not only your volume but also the speed and tone of your voice. It’s easy to lose control of these simple things when you get nervous. But, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

    #5 Use Eye Contact

    Over-using eye contact can make for an awkward discussion. But, avoiding it all together can lead people to feeling that you are either very nervous or very rude. Failing to look someone in the eyes can make them think you do not want to be in a conversation with them. Obviously, that’s not the impression you want to give.

    The trick is to not overthink your eye contact and then your gaze will be very natural. But, if you find yourself thinking about it, try the “V” trick. This is when you glance at one eye for a good 5-10 seconds before switching to their other eye for another 5-10 seconds. Break up the eye contact by looking to their mouth or, if they are gesturing, at their hands.

    With these tricks, you’ll be able to consistently make a great impression no matter what sort of meetings you find yourself in.