The Importance of Connections

dreamstime_xs_62253992At the WAND conference I spoke on Self-Empowerment for Dietitians.  One aspect of my presentation was on the importance of networking and making professional connections, both internal and external.  This applies to all professions.

Although networking is necessary, we need to do more than simply give out business cards.  We need to connect with the people we are meeting.  People like to do business with people they know, like, and respect.  This article focuses on the why and where of making connections with people so that they know at least a little bit about us and we know a little bit about them.  And, of course, these need to be positive connections.

It is necessary to make internal connections if we are to succeed and advance within our company.  If people do not know who we are, what we do, or how good we are at what we do, we won’t be considered for promotions and advancement.  Of course, we need a connection with our supervisor.  We also need connections with our supervisor’s supervisors.  We need connections with our co-workers.  We need connections with people in other departments.  We might also be in the situation where we need connections with the company’s customers and suppliers.

A goal is that if anyone at your company were to ask, “Who would be good at/for….” someone in the room would think of you and offer your name for consideration.

We also need to make external connections, connections outside of our company.  One example is professional connections.  A great way to do this is to become involved in local, state, and/or national associations related to our profession.  Many of us have more than one profession.  For example, professional associations that have reflected my career over the years include dietetics and nutrition, healthcare foodservice, speaking, and writing.

The more people that you have a connection with in associations that reflect your profession or professions, the more likely that your name will come up when there are opportunities outside of your company.

Another consideration for many is to go to where your customers, your potential customers, and people who know your potential customers are and make connections.  This might be outside of your profession.  It can be advantageous to join professional associations that are not directly related to your profession.  Who are your customers?  What associations do they belong to?  Can you join?  If your customers are primarily women, are there women’s associations or groups that you could join?

The old saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know that counts” has some truth in it.  The good news is that you have control over who you know, who you have a connection with.  Take the initiative and make the internal and external connections you need to succeed.

We Are More Than Our Relationship Status

dreamstime_xs_59800043, croppedI am very pleased to have a guest blogger today.  Jennie is a bright, successful young woman.  After almost four years in other states for college and internships, she is happy to be back home in Wisconsin with family and friends.  She works helping farmers sign up for programs that might provide financial assistance.  Her housemate is a fluffy cat named Binx.

I know Jennie because she is my cousin.  When she wrote the following on Facebook, I asked if I could use it in my blog.  It states eloquently what I have tried to say before.  I am proud of her for many things, but especially for being wise enough to recognize that our value is not dependent upon our relationship status.  Here are Jennie’s thoughts:

“I’m not quite sure when it started. Perhaps it was Disney’s happily-ever-afters? The first Valentine’s Day at elementary school? My imagination? Regardless of the starting point, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been watching for “my person.”

He was always in the back of my mind: from elementary school, through college, and into my adult life. But, no matter how patient I was, how kind, how hard-working, how musical, how funny, how sincere…he never showed up.

Only recently have I realized that I’ve been waiting on the wrong person. Just because he decided to push the definition of “fashionably late,” doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the party.  For perhaps the first time since my youth, I am sincerely content to be single. Sure, some days are easier than others, but on the tough days I just remind myself of my faith, friends, family, and one very fluffy fur-baby.

I hope every person who reads this knows that they are enough, regardless of their relationship status. In my opinion, God wouldn’t have made any of us if He didn’t think we were worthy all on our own.”

Thank you, Jennie, for sharing this inspiring message!

Special Offer! 50% Off EBooks!

raew+2018+-+8My eBooks, Don’t Act Like Prey! A Woman’s Guide to Self-Empowerment and 52 Weeks of Wisdom: A Woman’s Guide to Self-Empowerment are available from Smashwords for 50% off ($2.50 each) this week only (March 4-10).

To order, and for additional information, go to my Smashwords page.  A quick synopsis of each book follows.

Don’t Act Like Prey!  From birth, women are taught to be nice, be liked, and avoid conflict. We’re taught the alternative is unlikeable aggression. There’s a third option available: respectful assertiveness.

52 Weeks of Wisdom.  This motivational book offers fifty-two pieces of wisdom—one for each week of the year—to help women succeed in the workplace and in other aspects of their lives.

For those of you not familiar with Smashwords, it’s a one-stop venue for all forms of eBooks.  For example, from Smashwords my eBooks are available as an .epub file which can be downloaded to Nook, Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Aldiko, and Sony.  (If you want my eBooks for Kindle, you need to go to Amazon.  The files I have for Kindle do not upload to Smashwords.)  It’s a great way for readers to purchase eBooks in a variety of formats from numerous authors.  The advantage to authors is that they can offer their eBooks in different formats from one distributor.  For more information on Smashwords go to the FAQ page.

Don’t wait!  Prices have never been this low.  After you order Don’t Act Like Prey! go to my website to download the free bonus chapter and PDF tables.

Thank you!

P.S.  You might find many other eBooks on sale that you want as well.  Look through the Smashwords site for more fantastic book deals.

“Small as Your Dreams”

dreamstime_xs_81901484My husband and I saw the movie Peter Rabbit recently.  At the beginning is the song “Small as Your Dreams.”

This phrase is worth thought.  Are we as small as our dreams?  Or as large as our dreams?  Maybe so.  How much do our dreams make us who we are?

I don’t think that we should let our perception of our small “size” (I’m not big enough, strong enough, smart enough, talented enough, good enough) to stop us from dreaming bigger than we think we are.  From there, we can determine how to turn those big dreams into reality.  But if we don’t dream it first, we can’t make it happen.

3 R’s of Assertiveness

Dont-Act-Like-Prey-Kindle, final, resized squareIf we are to achieve the success we desire in our professional and personal lives, we must stand up for ourselves and speak out on our behalf.  We cannot be passive.  We must be assertive.

Many of us have difficulty in being assertive rather than passive.  This can be for many reasons.  We want to be nice.  We want to be liked.  We do not want to cause conflict.  We do not like confrontations.  For us baby-boomers, as girls we were encouraged to be passive.  These reasons are all understandable.  However, they can also be obstacles to our success.

Sometimes, rather than being assertive, we go overboard and become aggressive.  This can be equally detrimental to achieving our professional and personal goals.  When we are aggressive, we can damage the relationships that we need.

We can change.  We can find that balance between passive and aggressive behavior called assertive.  Sometimes it is easier to change if we look at a behavior from a new perspective.  One perspective is the 3 R’s:  relationships, rights, and respect.

Relationships

We all have relationships.  We have professional relationships with our supervisors, employees, co-workers, customers, suppliers, and many others.  We have personal relationships with our spouse/significant other, children, parents, in-laws, neighbors, friends and countless others.

These relationships are important to us.  We need other people to help us achieve what we want.  We cannot do everything ourselves.  Most of these relationships also provide us with a great deal of happiness and enjoyment.  They make our life richer.

It is to our advantage to have positive relationships with the people around us.  To do this, we need to be assertive.

Rights

We all have basic rights simply because we are human beings.  We have the right to be treated with respect, dignity, professionalism, courtesy.  We have the right, at least in this country, of freedom of speech.  Not only do we have the right to speak out, we also have the right to be heard.

We also have the right to set boundaries.  We have the right to create boundaries around what we consider acceptable behavior from others and around what we consider acceptable treatment of us.  We have the right to defend these boundaries.

In addition to general rights, within each relationship each party has rights.  For example, in a customer/supplier relationship, the customer has the right to the agreed upon good or service.  The supplier has the right to get paid the amount agreed upon.

When we are passive, it is as though we forget that we have rights.  We do not stand up for our rights.  We let others take our rights away from us.

When we are aggressive, it is as though we forget that others have the same rights that we do.  We take their rights away from them.

When we are assertive, we find the balance.  We recognize that we have rights and so do others.

Respect

Respect is the key to finding the balance between passive and aggressive behavior.  It is the key to being assertive.

When we are passive, we do not respect our rights.  We do not respect ourselves.

When we are aggressive, we do not respect others’ rights.  We do not respect others.

When we are assertive, we find the balance.  We respect our rights while respecting others’ rights.  We respect ourselves while respecting others.

Knowing how to show respect can be difficult sometimes related to differences in cultures, situations, and people.  You may think you are being respectful, but the other person may perceive it differently.  The opposite is also true.  Be aware of this and carefully listen and observe.  If you are not certain if your message has been received as intended, or if you are not certain you have received the message as intended, ask for clarification.

Consistently finding the balance between passive and aggressive behavior (assertive) can take some work.  It is well worth the effort, however, in improved professional and personal relationships.  To help you, remember the 3 R’s:  relationships, rights, and respect.

What Are You Feeding Your Brain?

dreamstime_xs_46622325We all know that we need to have a healthy diet to physically nourish our brains as well as our bodies.  Without the proper nutrients, in adequate amounts, our brains can’t function properly.

We also need to be aware of what thoughts and beliefs we are feeding our brains, about ourselves and about the world.

Are your thoughts telling you that are worthy or worthless?  That you are capable or incompetent?  That you are smart or stupid?  That you are a success or a failure?    Are your thoughts telling you that people in general are good or evil?  That the world is beautiful or ugly?  That life is full of hope or hopeless?  You get the idea.  Our thoughts become our beliefs which become our reality.

We also need to pay attention to the subtle messages that creep into our brains.  Think of the movies you see, the television shows you watch, the books you read, the music you listen to, the people you follow on social media.  What messages are there?  Are they positive or negative?  How is this impacting your brain, how is it impacting you?

I am especially concerned with what messages are being sent, received, and believed about women.  Take a critical look at the messages you are receiving.  Are women portrayed as smart, strong, independent people?  Or are they portrayed as objects or as inferior beings?  What messages about women are your daughters, granddaughters, and nieces receiving?  Are these message that will help or hurt them?

Too often I think we just soak in whatever messages are there, like mindlessly eating junk food, without thinking if these messages are good for us.  Is it time for you to feed your brain more positive thoughts and messages?

It Is What It Is…

dreamstime_xs_34242631I saw a sign with the following message in a gift shop in Evergreen, Colorado. ( It did not include an author.)

“It is what it is…but it will become what you make of it.”

I think this contains a great deal of wisdom and hope.  No matter what is happening now, we have the power to change it.  No matter who we are now, we have the power to change ourselves.

What will you create?

Self-Empowerment for Women e-Newsletter

16153152088, resizedIf you enjoy my blogs on self-empowerment for women, you will love my newly designed e-newsletter.  My feature articles are similar to my blogs.  I include past blogs in case you missed them.  I am also going to start offering special offers on my books.

To subscribe to my e-newsletter, click here.

If you would like to receive my blogs directly in your email rather than searching for them, click here and click again on the right hand side of the blog, “receive notifications of new blog posts.”

Thank you!

Self-Empowerment

dreamstime_xs_65105548, resizedEmpowerment is external, self-empowerment is internal.

Empowerment is when someone has power, permission, and/or authority to do something.  This often comes from outside the person.  For example, our supervisor might empower us to make decisions related to the business.  We might empower our attorney to make legal decisions for us.  Laws might empower women to have more equal status in the workplace.

Self-empowerment comes from inside of us.  It is when we give ourselves the power, permission, and/or authority to do something.  This might be to grow and develop into the person we want.  It might be to create the life we want.  We have the power within us to create what we desire.  Often what stands in our way is that we do not think we have the right to it.  We need to give ourselves permission to go after what we want.

Self-empowerment is when we use our power to take control of all aspects of our life.  It is when we take responsibility for our choices, our thoughts, our actions and the consequences of these.  It is when we decide what we want, develop a plan on how to achieve it, and implement the plan.

This applies to our professional and personal life.  Each impacts the other.  An important benefit to this is that the knowledge and skills that make you successful in one aspect of your life can assist in another.  For example, skills that you learn to deal with less-than-desirable co-workers can often be used to deal with pesky relatives who refuse to fall off the family tree.

To take control of your life it is important to be aware of what makes you you.  What are your thoughts?  Values?  Beliefs?  Passions?  Goals?  Motivations?  Who are you, and why are you the way you are?  This helps you determine why you do the things you do.

My writing is designed to provide you with opportunities to think about various topics.  From this you might gain a new perspective about yourself, your thoughts and beliefs, your motivations, and your actions.  After that, it becomes easier to make changes in your thoughts and behaviors, if you decide to do so.

 

Asking for Help

dreamstime_xs_92335252I have a problem asking for help.  There are reasons for this.

One is that I’m internally wired to think that I should be able to do everything, by myself, all the time.  This might relate to being responsible, independent, or self-sufficient.  These are good attributes, up to a point.  Or this might relate to being stubborn.  Stubbornness, too, can be a good thing, up to a point.  The reality is, we all need help sometimes and we shouldn’t let stubbornness, pride, or other things get in the way of asking.

Another reason that I have trouble asking for help is that I want things done the way I want them done, when I want them done.  I think that the way I do things is the best way.  After all, if it wasn’t the best way I wouldn’t do it that way.  It’s the old “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.”  The reality is, rarely is there one best way to do anything.  The important thing is the result—what was done, not how it was done.

I suggest that when you need help, ask.  Don’t let things get in the way.  When you ask, communicate clearly the result you want, but leave it up to the person helping you to determine the best way for him or her.  If a deadline is necessary, give it.  Otherwise ask the person when he or she can complete it.  These techniques can be used in our professional and personal lives.