How to Shine and Make Connections at Social Business Events

Do you find yourself in an awkward or uncomfortable situation when asked to attend a business holiday party, celebration banquet, or networking event? Or, do you see these events an opportunity to party and let your hair down! In either case, always be mindful of maintaining your reputation, and the reputation of the company or association that you represent.

Business-related social activities are extensions of your business day. They are a necessary part of any organization’s growth and should be treated with the same level of professionalism. They are as much about building relationships as they are about content and should not be misused. Keeping this in mind, remember that you are always being observed; you should maintain a professional demeanor always.

Networking also offers a wonderful opportunity to meet people outside the usual business environment in a fun and relaxed way. They bring everyone together and allow different facets of one’s personality to shine. Sometimes these get-togethers allow you to reconnect with colleagues that you know but have not seen in a while, or with whom you have only shared e-mail or text dialogues. It is a chance to make connections that can help your career and show that you are a well-rounded person with interests other than work.

Nine Tips to Protect Reputations

Tip #1: Dress with good taste—always! Attire should complement the event. Formal networking receptions might be a fun time to wear your more glamorous clothing or to display the more creative (fun) side of your personality; however, if what you are wearing is too revealing, you risk making others uncomfortable, being captured for others to share on social media (an embarrassment) or being viewed in a less professional manner when you return to your office. Whether casual or formal, dress with good taste!

Tip #2: Your spouse or date is your date! If wives, husbands, and singles are present, be respectful. Do not cross the relationship line by turning a networking social into a controversial reality show or dating game.

Tip #3: Protect your reputation. Your behavior can demonstrate the social skills that will get you promoted or brand you as the social horror story. Worse yet, a poor display of behavior could end up on U-Tube or be the topic of discussion in the company lounge. It’s your choice!

Tip #4: Mingle and socialize! This is your opportunity to meet a wide range of colleagues, vendors, and prospects. This is how referrals happen and new doors open. Everyone knows someone, and that is the foundation of all referrals. People like to refer people whom they know and like.

Tip #5: Upon arrival, mingle! Do not cluster with the same group of people. You already know each other! Instead, be a people connector and make sure everyone is having fun! By taking the initiative and making sure that everyone is interacting, you will demonstrate impressive leadership skills and social prowess.

Tip #6: Keep conversation positive and confidential. Avoid controversial topics. Derail a topic (or joke) if it is heading in a damaging or uncomfortable direction. Also, avoid the temptation to disclose confidential information, which is easy to do if your gossip side surfaces and/or you have had too much alcohol. The competition could be present in the person of a husband, wife, or friend of a guest. Make sure that your conversations are lighthearted.

Tip #7: Be discreet with your technology. Make the people around you your priority; not your cellphone! If you must make or receive a call or text, do so privately. Turn off your cell phone to avoid rude temptations. And, if you plan on taking and posting photos, be sure you have permissions.

Tip #8: Be Selective with your Hors d’oeuvres choices. Select items that make it easy for you to mingle and greet with a handshake. The food you select should be determined by how you are going to eat and work the room. Will you be walking around, standing at a high top, or sitting at a cocktail table? For example, if you are walking around select only finger food—morsels that can be eaten in one or two bites. If you are standing at a high top or at a cocktail table, you can select foods that are more challenging or messy.

Tip #9: Drink alcohol responsibly. It can take over an hour for your body to process one alcoholic beverage. Always drink alcoholic beverages in moderation. To control your body’s alcohol intake, drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage—and eat food (never drink on an empty stomach). Stay in control of YOU.

Remember! A good reputation takes years to build. However, it only takes one negative incident to destroy a professional’s stature within the business community with clients and peers. Professionalism is paramount.

Post Submitted by Gloria Petersen

Pierre Dubuc’s OpenClassrooms Out To Disrupt Education System

Pierre Dubai, Founder and CEO, OpenClassrooms
Pierre Dubai, Founder and CEO, OpenClassrooms

A Series of Forbes Profiles of Thought Leaders Changing the Business Landscape: Pierre Dubuc, Founder and CEO, OpenClassrooms

According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees in the U.S. for the 2017–2018 school year was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. Big numbers, especially considering that median incomes over the past 40 some years have remained relatively flat, adjusted for inflation. College costs have risen 276% over that time, commanding 25% of median incomes, up from just 7% in 1971. With no cost moderation in sight. Cost issues aside, many question whether the system is producing graduates with the skills required for the 21st century.

An audacious, but unassuming 29-year old, born in Normandy, France has been working on providing an alternative solution since the age of 11. The company is OpenClassrooms and its founder and CEO is Pierre Dubuc. “I started OpenClassrooms with my friend Mathieu Nebra four years ago, but we’ve been doing this as a hobby, since 1999,” says Dubuc.

Dubuc’s mission is to make education more accessible. The Paris-based online educational platform has 100 employees building the online platform that allow 400 mentors to train thousands of degree students a month across 128 countries. According to Dubuc, the business is growing fast, increasing 150% every year, attracting some 8 million Euros in venture funding from BPI,…

Trust, tribes and traction: How innovation can help

Trust, tribes and traction: How innovation can help

Every year, global marketing consultancy Edelman publishes the Edelman Trust Barometer, its annual measurement of trust based on a global survey. The survey’s Australian 2017 results showed that trust in non-government organisations, media, business and government had fallen significantly compared with the previous year.

In fact, trust in business had dipped below the 50% line into the ‘distrusted’ zone. Further, CEO credibility dropped to an all-time low, and 59% of respondents felt the overall ‘system’ was failing.

The Edelman results are not alone. PWC’s Australian 2017 CEO survey showed yet another increase in the percentage of CEOs concerned about lack of trust in business (63%), higher than the global average.

Australia, along with the rest of the world, has developed a trust crisis. A common response to this is for CEOs to try to rally their troops (tribe) around a purpose. That’s a hard thing to do with a sceptical audience.

To top that off, business leaders are now in a time trial to keep up with markets that are shifting fast. Generating traction on new growth initiatives, in the face of this disruption, is now feeling distinctly overdue for many.

This quest for trust, tribes and traction needs some solutions.

One of the ways to help reach these goals is to work more effectively on innovation. While many companies are talking innovation, many are merely doing the ‘idea thing’; far fewer are launching those ideas.

When you teach a daughter, son, niece, nephew or neighbour to ride a bike, you can instruct the young rider as much as you like but they’ll never learn to ride until they actually get on the bike. You start by holding them and issuing lots of advice but both of you know that they ultimately have to stay upright by their own effort.

We need innovation teams to ride their own bike; we can’t keep holding, controlling, catching and admonishing them to…

Employee to Entrepreneur

Making the transition from employee to entrepreneur can be difficult. Like so many others I made this transition from factory worker. The money and benefits were good so there was no incentive to move on. This continued for many years and as time went by a lot of us started to say we have to get out of here. It’s hard to give up the pay and benefits so we kept on going.

That all began to change. Working for a family-controlled company in an non union factory they were free to make the changes they felt would benefit them with no uprising from the workers. The union had been voted down every time it came to a vote. The changes being made forced everyone to rethink this. Organizers began working and collected enough signatures to call for a union vote. This time it was successful.

The negotiations went on for several months to no avail. A strike vote was taken and a date set. The threat of a looming strike did not sway the company to negotiate in good faith. The date arrived and at 2 am we all walked off the job on to the picket line.

The company’s reaction, hire a strike breaking security firm and the hire more people to work inside that we had outside. After six months on strike the company had the workforce in place and petitioned for another union vote. The vote eliminated the union and at that point we all became unemployed.

The next several months was spent looking for work. One day I noticed an ad in the local newspaper for an insurance agent. With some encouragement from my wife and key people I made the call that changed my life forever. At the first interview I was given and aptitude test, I must have passed since I was eventually given a contract. Over the next several months there were numerous meetings and homework assignments. This is where I was introduced to the work of a man named Napoleon Hill.

We were employees in the beginning in the taxation sense of the word. We had to operate and grow our own insurance agency. This was my introduction to the world of entrepreneurship. Over time we were converted to independent contractors. This meant we were responsible for everything as any business owner is.

The company trained you in sales but that was the end of it at that time. We did have a field manager we reported to. There were many in that role but one came in and said we need to be operating as a true business that we were. He brought in a CPA and called a meeting. He pulled some documents out of his purse, (ok, European shoulder bag) which included a budget worksheet. This nearly gave me a hard attack. I remember saying, “I have to pay all of this!” No it was only a sample most would not apply to us. YET!

I began to educate myself on the business side of the equation. Learning everything I could about operating a business, from hiring employees to taxation. Thank goodness for a group of consultants and mastermind group members. This was what led me to be successful in my twenty-five year career as an insurance agent.

My advice to anyone finding themselves in a similar position is seek wise counsel, establish a mastermind group of those can help. Follow your passion. Read, study and take courses in the area needed to be improved.

Bah Humbug To Double Time; AA Pilots Resist Christmas Flying

File photo from 2014 (AP Photo/LM Otero)

It is growing increasingly clear that even at double-time pay, many American Airlines pilots have not been persuaded to give up their family holidays and fly in the days surrounding Christmas. Nevertheless, the airline is continuing to assure December travelers, there will be no cancellations.

Last week, the airline acknowledged a scheduling glitch allowed many pilots to drop their December flights, putting more than 10 thousand flights in jeopardy of cancellation. The double time for flying between December 17 and the 31st was a hastily worked-out solution intended to incentivize the pilots to pick up those flights without crews.

The pleas continued over the weekend for captains and first officers and yet some 12 hundred flights, largely in the…

Cleaner to CEO: Sabu M. Jacob, CEO & Chairman & MD of Kitex Garments

Cleaner to CEO: Sabu M. Jacob

Sabu Jacob hasn’t forgotten his earliest job as a cleaner as he helms a clothing industry giant.

Sabu Jacob, CEO and Managing Director of Kitex Garments, is today the head of the second-largest manufacturer of infants’ clothes in the world, but his first foray into the workforce was in a much humbler role. “My career started when I was 13 and my father took me to clean the workers’ toilets in our aluminium factory,” he recalls. “I worked there for almost 14 months. Then he promoted me to sweeping the floor of the factory.”

Sabu’s father, industrialist MC Jacob, later elevated him to other roles during the company’s construction of factories, and the young Sabu spent a couple of years mixing concrete and plastering, then installing and commissioning machines. He then gained responsibility for one weaving machine and worked his way up to overseeing eight.

After a detour to the shipping department, he returned to the loom as an assistant weaving master, then as weaving master, and finally as director.

Armed with this experience, Sabu struck out and started his own company, Kitex Garments, in 1992. Working at different stations throughout his father’s companies gave him firsthand experience of the manufacturing process, and it showed him the importance of comfortable working conditions. “I saw the problems and pain in every job,” says Sabu.

When he set up his own factory, which provides accommodation and meals for its employees, Sabu’s appreciation of these pain points was front of mind. “I was very concerned about the workers and their welfare. That’s why I made it a centrally air-conditioned factory. I placed a lot of importance on getting everything right – their dormitories, their kitchen, their food.”

Sabu M. Jacob CEO & Chairman & MD of Kitex Garments

Sabu says other industry players initially thought the expenditure on workers’ living quarters was pointless. “People said it was big foolish,” Sabu recalls. “But now the situation has changed and all my competitors are copying us. They are constructing hostels, adding more facilities. It’s become necessary.”

The initial investment in workers’ conditions has paid off in a number of different ways. “A lot of our competitors are facing very big problems, whereas my workers are very stable and want to work as much as possible.

“My competitors are facing workforce shortages, while my factory is in a very comfortable position and more and more people want to stick around. It has all changed now: unless you offer a good dormitory and good food, people will not stick with your factory.

“My efficiency is around 30% more than the global efficiency in this sector. That is because my people are getting full rest, getting very good, healthy food. The next day, they come back to work with full energy, they’re fresh, and they can concentrate on their work.”

Sabu completed an economics degree at the University of Kerala, but found that on-the-job learning was more formative. “More than my studies at college, I got a better education from my father,” he says.

More than my studies at college, I got a better education from my father.

“I got practical experience; I learned the reality of life. That was exactly what he wanted me to learn. That’s why he put me through the very worst job and slowly let me progress into different areas. Basically, he made me a human being.”

Before opening his factory, Sabu says, he put extensive efforts into developing a deep knowledge of garment production. “I toured a few factories in Tiruppur, the knitwear hub of India; then on…

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey On U.S. Treasury Secretary’s View Of AI: ‘Stupid, Irresponsible’

Jack Dorsey is not one to shy away from controversy on issues he cares about. One of those for the socially-minded CEO of two billion-dollar startups, Twitter and Square, is the U.S. Treasury Secretary’s Steven Mnuchin’s stated views on artificial intelligence and jobs.

“We have a treasury secretary in the US who said that AI will not cause job loss for 50 to 100 years,” Dorsey said today at TechBeach Retreat in Jamaica. “It’s not just stupid … it’s irresponsible.”

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey at TechBeach Retreat in Jamaica

Mnuchin’s view that AI won’t cause job loss isn’t shared by many technologists.

A recent…

Using workforce data to achieve leaner operations

Using workforce data to achieve leaner operations

The use of internal workforce data for creating leaner operations is changing how we view corporate reorganisation.

A recent survey from PwC demonstrates the importance of companies using their internal workforce data to provide greater insight into how their organisations operate, as well as demonstrating the value of such data in understanding employees and their work habits.

But it isn’t enough for businesses to know what their data is saying; companies must also be able to ask the right questions of their information to get the most out of it. In a changing world in which business operations are moving towards digitisation and automation, data plays a vital role in helping organisations to create leaner and stronger operations.

Exploring your workforce data

While the idea of corporate reorganisation isn’t new, the use of internal data to determine the most appropriate allocation of resources is changing how we view this process.

Exploring the data available on a company’s workforce is the perfect starting point. This could include staff demographics, home location, pay grade, job titles, job functions, levels of training and the like. But being able to ask the right questions of this information can also make it easier to understand which job functions are the most crucial to an organisation, and where the greatest business value is created.

It is important to note that knowing which job functions provide the most value does not necessarily mean cutting the roles that add ‘less value’. For example, examining overtime spend could help an organisation to reprioritise daily tasks and work orders so…

How to lead expansion into new markets

How to lead expansion into new markets

Mihir Kittur, Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer for Ugam, is responsible for business development and delivering customer success. He has over 20 years of experience, and has worked closely with clients across the globe, to understand their needs and help create solutions for their success.

Earlier this year, we opened our first office in Melbourne, our eleventh office globally. As a global company, we are no stranger to driving expansion into new markets.

However, assuming a formula will succeed every time is probably the first mistake one can make. Expansion is fun and exciting, but it also requires a lot of groundwork before seeing results. Here are some considerations business leaders will find useful when planning to expand.

  1. Define the business case

    If the business has a steady income flow and a stable, talented workforce, but the current market is saturated or has ceased growing, then moving into a new market could be a good idea.

    There are many reasons that the business might look to expand. Establishing the business case for expansion is an important initial step. Once a strong business case is established, look within to confirm the availability of resources to support it.

  2. Allocate resources

    Not knowing the business’ limitations, could result in committing to unrealistic objectives, maybe even failure. Get a clear…

Chief Consumer Officer Of Humana Shares Insight On Shift From B2B To B2C Marketing

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In a recent discussion with Jody Bilney, Chief Consumer Officer Humana, about the changes occurring in healthcare marketing, I was fascinated to learn about her background. She has moved across industries and held a number of different C-level positions in both B2B and B2C firms. Bilney shared her perspective on the differences across positions and roles below.

Kimberly Whitler: You’ve been a Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Brand Officer, and now a Chief Consumer Officer. What are the differences in these positions?

Jody Bilney: There are some similarities across the different roles and some key differences. The part that has been the same is that my role has always been to make sure that the consumer’s interests are sitting at the top management team table. It means that their interests are always considered. In regulated industries, the order in which business considerations are often contemplated – i.e., regulatory, financial, and then maybe the consumer – you have to make sure that the consumer (and, in the case of health care, the medical provider) point of view is consistently contemplated. And this has always been my job, no matter the industry or title.

At Humana, I didn’t realize the wisdom of not calling my position the…