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30 May, 2018

Tips & Advice from Guru Guidance

Kyle Veater

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Guru Guidance   Event Recap   Thought Leadership   News You Can Use  
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Read time: 1 minute, 49 seconds

Mentors and mentees from the 2017-2018 Guru Guidance cohort got together recently to reflect on their experiences with the program and discuss some of the difficult issues we all face in the course of our careers. Topics ranged from the formal procedures for giving critical feedback to nuanced approaches to earning and keeping co-worker trust. We’ve outlined some of the key takeaways from the event for the benefit of our members.

Colleague/Coworker Trust

  • Particularly as it relates to marketing & BD personnel building relationships with technical staff, it is critical to demonstrate a genuine desire to learn and understand what it is they, and the firm as a whole, do. To this end, ask questions, pick people’s brains and show folks that you want to be an integral part of the firm’s success.
  • Follow through, don’t make excuses.
  • Take ownership of your work – both successes and failures. This demonstrates competency, accountability and value.
  • Be flexible with different communication styles and make your own preferences known to facilitate a more comfortable exchange for everyone. Take time to speak in person or over the phone as opposed to only via email.

Networking Etiquette & Best Practices

  • When someone gives you a business card, READ IT. Do not just pocket it. It shows a genuine interest and can also give you some easy avenues for furthering the conversation.
  • Ask open-ended questions, never dead-end, yes/no questions. This helps keep the dialogue flowing more naturally and again offers more avenues for follow up and furthering the conversation.
  • Tried and true conversation starters:
    • What brings you to [EVENT]?
    • What are you hoping to learn/accomplish at [EVENT]?
    • Instead of asking “What do you do at [COMPANY]?”, ask "How long have you been with [COMPANY]?"
  • Follow up and work to nurture relationships.
  • Be a connector and help facilitate introductions.

Difficult Conversations & Critical Feedback

  • Many of the groups at the event talked about Radical Candor, a unique approach to giving immediate, frank feedback. The approach values directness and stresses that it must come from a place of genuine desire to help the other person. Learn more about Radical Candor with this Ted Talk from the book’s author.
  • Setting and context are important. Give careful consideration to where and when you have the tough conversation. Who’s around, familiarity with the environment and timing will all have an impact on how the feedback is received.
  • Be self-aware when you consider the timing of feedback or your own response to feedback. A good acronym to keep in mind is HALT: If you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, wait to send the email, make the phone call, or generally respond. Take some time, collect your thoughts and then revisit.

  • Practicing what you want to say will help you feel confident in clearly expressing your message.

  • Learn to appreciate silence.