Be A Conversation Starter

September 30, 2007

The conversation is an important tool in building relationships. Relationships are an important factor in your success, however you define it.

That’s why you need to be a conversation starter. But, keep in mind, this simple statement can be taken two ways:

  1. Be worth talking about when you’re not around.
  2. Start conversations when you are.

And each of these are important if you want to enhance your career. Both in in-person interactions and online.

To start conversations you really just need a few things:

  1. Something to say.
  2. Confidence.

To be worth talking about, you essentially need the same things, just in a little different packaging.

  1. Great ideas.
  2. A personality worth talking about.

The beauty of being a conversation starter in person is that brilliant conversationalists are also the type of people that others will bring up in conversation later on. People love talking about great storytellers, people with charisma, intellectuals, people with unique ideas, those who are outgoing or friendly.

And when people talk with you and about you, great things can happen. Especially if you have something spectacular to say. Doors may open, opportunities arise, your network grow. And who knows where you may end up.

So go ahead, start talking.

A Generation of Paradox

September 19, 2007

It seems like there are a lot of contradictions in what Gen Y wants – out of life, jobs, careers, family. The things that matter.

We want guidance but to do things our own way. We want to be safe but take risks. We want to be loyal to employers but true to ourselves. We want to have dreams but stability. We want to do it all but have free time.

Maybe this makes us a confusing lot. Some call us wishy-washy. Maybe it makes us the same as every generation who’s come before us. Some say we’re just young and we’ll change our tune soon enough, as life levels us out (or knocks us down, according to the most cynical.)

Regardless of whether it’s a new thing or not, we’re a paradoxical bunch. This reminds me of myself growing up. I was a tomboy who played in mud and caught snakes, but wanted prissy clothes with ruffles and bells. I loved shoes of all sorts but would rather go barefoot than wear them.

So, the paradox thing isn’t new to me. I’ve always characterized myself this way.

Now, I look at my life and the lives of my peers and see that the phenomenon of paradox is alive and well in all of us, in our dreams, our goals, our values. The question is, do we have impossible dreams, are our hopes too high, or is the world really about to change in ways that we are dreaming of?

And the other question is, will the world simply change around us, or does the evolution depend on our voice, that of a generation ready for change, not just for us, but for everyone?

“It’s all in the details” is such a true statement, especially when it comes to events.

And one of the most important details, when it comes to customer service, the deal maker or breaker, is a great attitude. And let me just say, the staff at the hotel for the event I’m helping run this week have really turned on the magic of great customer service. So, I thought now would be a great time to share are a few ideas on how to really wow your customers or clients ala our fabulous experience so far:

1) VIP treatment. Not only are the other three event staff members and I privy to free Starbuck’s at a moment’s notice this week, we’ve been pinned – literally, with gold lapel pins – the mark of the really important people this week. Even though our event is only for about 150 people. But it’s great – for us and for the hotel staff – because it keeps us from complaining even though we are schlepping boxes up and down elevators and throughout a hotel all day and will be running around like chickens with our heads cut off tomorrow. The little things count. Give your clients and customers VIP treatment, and you’ll create customers for life and set yourself apart from the competition.

2) Time. I can’t even begin to tell you how much the gift of time means on a day like today. Rooms that were promised to us by 6 a.m. tomorrow were ready at noon today. A whole 18 hours before contracted, before we’re even paying for them. That means basically everything I needed to do tomorrow is essentially done today. Now instead of a 5:30 wake up call, I can actually sleep tonight. Which goes right back around to them, because I won’t have any excuse for being cranky at them tomorrow. The one thing everyone wants more of is time. Make your products, services, call systems, websites, paperwork – everything – more time-friendly, and your clients and customers will sing your praises.

3) The extra mile. My AV guys stayed long past their regular hours to help me fix a bug (that we had created, no less) on a presenter’s PowerPoint, for one. When I accidentally spilled my first free venti latte all over myself first thing this morning, I barely had to blink and the mess had been cleaned up around me. And a new latte arrived shortly thereafter. An unexpected free lunch was catered to our storage room while we unpacked boxes. The extra mile not just once, but repeatedly and not just from one person, is the sign of a world class organizational culture. One that won’t be quickly forgotten, by me, anyway.

It may sound simple, but in a self-serve, super-center world, excellent customer service is hard to come by. And it makes a difference, not just for clients and customers, but for employees and companies, too. Everyone here seems to like each other. Things seem to work smoothly. It’s like our little four person event staff is just a new member of their team, working to get this event done. It’s not them helping us. It’s all of us working together to pull this off. And that’s really a magical thing to experience.