Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Meetings Matter" Webinar 1

On April 29, Colleen Rickenbacher led the first in the "Meetings Matter" series of webinars for MPI. I was out of the country on a project at the time, but I just got the opportunity to see the webinar, and thought I'd share my notes.

This presentation was titled Lay-offs, Cutbacks and Closing Down: What are you Doing to Make a Difference? This is a good refresher course for professionals who are finding themselves back on the job market in this economy, and generally good reminders for professionals everywhere.

Colleen started by pointing out that in every crisis lies an opportunity. The challenge to all of us is "what are we doing to be prepared?" And none of us is safe. The experts predict that the meetings industry will start turning around in September. Do you have a plan in place to survive for the next five months on a reduced or nonexistent income?

We have to get prepared! Build your database of contacts and start working them, even if you haven't lost your job (yet). Reconnect with people who have helped you in the past. Go to meetings where potential clients and employers might be found. Take classes to learn new skills and abilities. Rebrand yourself! There are three rules: Be Visible, Be Social, Be Out There!

This crisis is an opportunity for REbirth. Relearn, retrain, rethink, regroup. Reexamine everything about your life, your career, and your future. And then get your plan moving!

You might have to go for an interview... again. Maybe for the first time in a very long time. Remember all the basis -- dress nicely, wear a suit and tie (gentlemen!), have 10 questions ready, and always write thank you notes! Get your resume ready -- maybe you'll need to change it slightly for each potential job. This is how you are selling yourself, so put the best material up front. Be truthful. Be concise!

Once you get a new job, even in the same company, you'll have to make a big transition. Learn what the new environment is all about. Do your research. Learn who the decision makers are. Avoid the gossips and back-stabbers and other negative people in your new office. Become a team player, but don't be obnoxious about it! Join teams or committees, but be dependable in the tasks you take on.

And in this new world, there are some things to remember. Maybe you were the boss before, but not anymore. Your decision may no longer be final. You might find yourself reporting to people who used to report to you. Change is constant -- how you handle it will make the difference in your career.Finally, now that you're heading back into the flood of job-seekers out there, remember that your first impression is the most important impression that you will make. Colleen described in detail her tips on dress, nonverbal communication, handshakes, introductions, business cards, thank you notes, connecting (networking) and meetings. The key is to get noticed -- make a big impression, be social and active, and surround yourself with leaders.

You might meet your next big client or employer at any time. Always be present and focused on the conversation you are having now. Avoid distractions like email and texting when you're on the phone or in a conversation with someone. Be professional, act professional, and make sure that every communication you have with others is professional.

That's my recap of Colleen Rickenbacher's presentation. I've got a few more to go in the Meetings Matter webinar series. If you'd like to see the notes from any of them in particular, please drop me a note!

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