Thru Thick and Thin: Connecting - It's All About the People - Kathy Aaronson - MediaBizBloggers

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Hello Kathy,

I left a very successful career in network television to raise two children. What advice could you offer me about re-entering the job market after completing my Business degree while raising my family?

I find it very frustrating to fill out applications online. Would you suggest getting with a recruiter or not? Your advice would be most appreciated.

S.O.S. Mom, Hoboken

S.O.S,

Congratulations on completing your Business degree while raising your two children. FYI: We have been following a number of moms as they have successfully reentered today's job market. Without exception, all were hired by managers who had worked with them or knew them through a community based committee and fund raising project work.

We reached out to Adele Scheele, PhD, a renowned career coach for advice about this question. She has written "Skills for Success" (Simon & Schuster) and "Launch Your Career in College" (Praeger). Adele has appeared on "The Today Show" for years as a career expert and has hosted a KABC Talk Radio Show on this subject.

Adele Scheele, PhD:
I hope you stayed in contact with your former associates in television. Even if you haven't, find them. Ask how they are, what they're doing, and prepare a snappy summary of what you learned in B school, managing kids' educations, and what skills you can bring now. Ask for leads. I hope you also made some good relationships with your professors and fellow students. Call them and remind them (and yourself) of the projects and papers you did that are relevant now. (Note; if you are a student reading this, make sure that all your work for credit leads you to work you want to be paid for later.) Tell how your past work in sales and management courses relate. Be persistent. Ask "If you were I, where would you start, who you would call, what would you do?" If your confidence wanes, re-read your old resume, update it. Start calling 5 people every day -- with a smile in your voice. Remember: you were very successful in network television. Listen to these words. Connect with people, plan a campaign statement, and pitch yourself. Leads will come, but not always in the ways you expect. Our world now is all about connection, innovation, and change. You have a lot to offer.

Hi Kathy,

Do you consider using emoticons in emails to co-workers, clients and vendors professional/unprofessional? What other digital means or suggestions do you have for adding the human factor and avoiding miscommunication in business emails?

Emoticon Happy, NYC

Hi Happy,

I have applied emoticons to emails, and even give them as birthday and holiday gifts. But if I have to ask myself if I should use an emoticon or not, I defer and don't. To make sure our emoticon strategy is the right one, I turned to the one person I trust most with anything related to digital etiquette, Tatiana Platt, CEO of FameGame.com and former Chief Trust of Officer of AOL for a full 360 emoticon POV.

Tatiana Platt:
To emoticon, or not to emoticon, that is the question. You need to take each category of people you interact with, co-workers, clients and vendors, separately.

Generally, if you have a close working relationship with your co-workers, and your email is not being sent to a large distribution list but is rather a one-to-one communication, then it's usually ok to use emoticons if you tend to be expressive in your communications. (Do you add a lot of exclamation points, too?!) If you're sending an email that is a formal weekly report or legal memo, even to your co-workers, then probably best to leave out the emoticons.

Now, for clients and vendors, if you are sending official company communications by email that might end up in the corporate record, then think twice about it. Also, gauge how expressive those people are in their own emails to you. IMs and text messages are a different story; you can be a bit less formal.

As for dealing with misunderstandings, my advice is to go talk to someone in person if you aren't sure how something came across in email. One round of clarification questions on an email is usually ok, but if you end up with a back and forth, cut to the chase and walk down the hall or set up a meeting.

And if you are looking for other ways to be more expressive in your emails, then beef up your vocabulary and improve your writing skills!

Hi Kathy,

I am a success driven senior account executive and have been looking for a mentor for some time now to help guide my career. I finally found someone who is sincerely interested in coaching me along the way. Do you have any advice or suggestions to help me maintain this great relationship?

Fortunate, Houston

Hi Mentee,

I am very familiar with both sides of the mentee/mentor spectrum.

When I started my advertising sales career, I was blessed with Helen Gurley Brown, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, and O.B. Bond, a stellar publisher at Hearst who taught me how to negotiate social and business protocols with ease. Today, I serve as a mentor to people starting, changing, and reinvigorating their careers; all very rewarding experiences.

I am reminded daily of the value of seeking help from people who know more than you do and have come up with the following five tactics to help keep a mentor:

q As your relationship matures be sure to congratulate them when their work is admired and awarded.

q If the rare occasion arises when you see the opportunity to defend the good name of your mentor, be quick to turn any negativity into a positive. I had such an occasion after a mentor was terminated in bold type in the press, and someone quipped negatively at an industry function. With full confidence I said, "I am absolutely positive he will land on his feet, and we will all benefit from his incredible wisdom again soon."

q Look for the big and little ways to say "thank you." Buy a ticket to an event where they are speaking. Send along information you feel will make their lives easier.

q Thank and acknowledge the critical role played by the mentor in every step of your success.

Let us also include the value of time saved and career injuries avoided by retaining a career and life coach. These professionals offer fee based services that focus on you, and drive results by keeping you on a pre-approved plan.

Thru Thick and Thin is written by Kathy Aaronson, CEO, Sales Athlete Executive Search with assistance from Lindsey Long, National Director of Client Services, Sales Athlete Executive Search. Submit your questions to Thru Thick and Thin to Kathy@thruthickandthin.com or Lindsey@thruthickandthin.com, or by submitting a comment below.

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