Friday smorgasbord: Being nice


Learn about nice from Paris Hilton
We all know that networking is the way to build a career. It’s the how-to that’s so difficult. Today, most of the advice about networking says: Be nice, and people will be nice back. And, building a network helps a career because you can ask for a favor when you need one. But you can’t call in favors if you’re not giving them out all the time.

Chartreuse has a great post on this topic: Why Paris Hilton is Famous: Understanding value in a post-Madonna world.” Paris Hilton is the queen of giving out favors. She understands the value of passing along information. So she builds her business (herself) by giving out favors (publicity). You need to do something similar in your career. Like Paris, your job is to network: be nice, give people information they want, do favors whenever you can. That’s what networking is.

Job hunters, choose networking over keyword optimization
Here’s a little reminder that you probably won’t get a job by emailing your resume to a large human resources department. The article, Sorry, no one’s reading that resume you sent, describes the automation of the corporate hiring process. Bottom line: It’s very automated.

One of my most popular columns was 6 tips for job hunting online. This is because sitting at your computer trying to figure out how to get past someone else’s computer is less stressful than connecting with real people to build a network. But really, you’re better off spending your time building a network than optimizing the keywords on your resume. When you have a network of people you’ve already helped, someone will push your resume past the automation process.

Two tidbits about etiquette
I think I’m pretty good about workplace etiquette, which, by the way, is everywhere etiquette, because the bottom line in etiquette is be considerate everywhere. But there are some times that I falter.

Geoffrey Fowler writes in CareerJournal how annoying it is when someone in the US says to someone working outside the US, “What time is it there, anyway?” I confess to having done this before. But I won’t do it again.

Another rule I have broken: Asking the unanswerable question via email. Guy Kawasaki wrote a funny and insightful post about this problem:

“Do not fabricate unanswerable questions… the open-ended question that is so broad it should be used in a job interview at Google. For example, ‘What do you think of the RIAA lawsuits?’ ‘What kind of person is Steve Jobs?’ ‘Do you think it’s a good time to start a company?’ My favorite ones begin like this: ‘I haven’t given this much thought, but what do you think about…?’ In other words, the sender hasn’t done much thinking and wants to shift responsibility to the recipient. Dream on.”

5 replies
  1. CrankMama
    CrankMama says:

    Well said… I just got a part-time gig by stopping in to say ‘hello’ to an old colleague. I think the key to true networking is to enjoy the company of your contacts… If they see that you take pleasure in their company and conversation, they’re more inclined to help you out.

  2. Captain Stubs
    Captain Stubs says:

    Going out to lunch on a Friday with coworkers can be very enjoyable. But all must remember proper dining etiquette. There are many post regarding the proper etiquette for dining.

    One that’s always missing is that you should be upfront when buying a to-go item that is not for yourself. For example, if you by a malt to go for a friend, and don’t indicate these intentions, you may falsely lead your friends to believe that it’s for you. For Shame!

  3. matchmaker
    matchmaker says:

    Y'all, I used a pie crust bag for years and years, until the zipper on my (by then) stiff and hard bag broke. I had become dependent on the dang thing, so I decided to try to do it without the bag, and now I can say I can just whip out a pie crust in a one, two three. It is now easy as pie to do. I use one of those big bread boards with the backsplash which I bought in Germany if I have to make a lot of crusts, but for just one I use the old kitchen counter, a long rolling pin (no handles)and about 1 T extra flour. Speed is the trick, I think. Then I fold the crust into fourths, lightly, and put it in the pan. I tried, years ago, a rolling mat, but gave it to the Goodwill after a few tries. I just try to work fast with a cool dough.

    But I can't recommend a pie crust bag enough if you are a beginner, or like to work with deliberation and care.

    My mother-in-law, before she died, made 3 pies every Sunday, and more on holidays. I figure she made thousands in her 60 years of marriage. But she took her recipe out of the box each time she made pies, made each crust separately, and cleaned her oven afterward each time, too. Talk about deliberation and care!

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