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!

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.


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.


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 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.

Now Available as an eBook!

Farrell_Don'tActLikePrey_FULLCOVER_FINAL_090714, cropped_edited-1I am pleased to announce that my book Don’t Act Like Prey! A Guide to Self Leadership for Women is now available as an ebook.  The book discusses passive, aggressive, and assertive behavior.  When we are passive, we do not get what we need from others.  When we are aggressive, we damage relationships.  We need to consistently find the balance of being assertive.  The book includes tables to help the reader determine what the costs and benefits are to remaining the same and to changing her behavior.

To order, go to my website.  You can order for Kindle or Nook by clicking on the appropriate link.  Since tables to do not work so well for ebooks, be sure to download the tables.  Also, if you leave me your email address I will send you the special bonus chapter.

If you prefer hard copies of books, the book is available from both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Click on the appropriate link.

The holiday gift-giving season is approaching fast!  These books make great gifts for the women in your professional and professional life.

The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen (Video Link)dreamstime_xs_40324783, resized

My paternal grandmother’s favorite story was “The Little Red Hen.” I am not sure if it was because she liked the message or that she liked chickens.  (Chickens on a farm were important then.)

For those of you who have not heard the story of the little red hen, or have forgotten it, the basic story line follows. The little red hen found some wheat grains. She wanted to grow and harvest the wheat so she could make bread. At each step in the process (planting, weeding, and harvesting the wheat, grinding it into flour, and making bread) she asked each of the other farm animals if they would help. Each one, at each step, said, “No.” When each one said they would not help, she replied with, “Then I’ll do it myself.” Finally, after months of work, the little red hen had her bread and was sitting down to enjoy the results of her efforts. Each of the farm animals came up and wanted some of her bread. She told each one, “No, I’ll eat it myself.”

There are many people in the world who are like the little red hen. They know what they want and they work hard to make it happen. If they do not get support from others, they do it anyway.

Unfortunately, there are also many people who are like the other farm animals. They want the results, but they do not want to work for them.

This can occur in very obvious ways. For example, there are people who want money, but do not want a job. They want someone else to give them money without giving anything in return.

This can also occur in less obvious ways. For example, there are people who have a job and want to make more money. But they do not want to gain the additional knowledge, skills, or experience necessary to be promoted. They want to receive more without giving more.

Another example is group projects. I hated group projects in college. Usually everyone in the group wanted an “A.” Usually it was me and maybe one other person that was willing to work hard enough to actually earn an “A.”  The same thing happens in work situations.

Think about your professional and personal relationships. In each relationship are you a “little red hen” or are you one of the “farm animals?” Which do you want to be?

The 3 R’s of Assertiveness

Farrell_Don'tActLikePrey_FULLCOVER_FINAL_090714, cropped_edited-1

This is a very condensed presentation on assertiveness.  The title is The 3 R’s of Assertiveness.  (An alternative title is Don’t Act Like Prey!)  The 3 R’s are relationships, rights, and respect.

We all have professional and personal relationships.  Within each of these relationship we and the other party have certain rights.  When we do not respect ourselves and our rights, we are passive.  When we do not respect others and their rights, we are aggressive.  When we respect both ourselves and others, we are assertive.

I published this presentation previous in a series of five segments.  If you did not have an opportunity to watch the segments, I hope you will learn something in this one that will help you achieve the success you want.

Equal Partnerships

dreamstime_xs_32614115Equal Partnerships (Video)

Throughout these blogs we have talked about you.  Your rights.  Your responsibilities.  Your choices.  Your life.

It is necessary to remember, though, that everything we have discussed applies to everyone.  This means, that if you are in a committed relationship, your partner is just as important as you are.  The life he wants is just as important as the life you want.  Not more important, but as important.

I think a committed relationship should be an equal partnership.  Each person should work equally hard, take on equal responsibility, and give as much support as he or she expects to receive.  It is necessary for both people to work together to determine how their life together will meet their individual desires and goals.  It may take some negotiating.

The opposite of an equal partnership is a double standard.  That is where it is all about one person and about what that one person wants.  If you are in a double standard relationship, and it is all about him, can you change things?  If not, is it worth staying in that relationship?  If you are in a double standard relationship, and it is all about you, remember that he has the same rights as you do and can leave you.  You might want to make changes before that happens.

An equal partnership is a beautiful relationship.  I recommend that you always remember that your partner, and what he wants, is as important as you, and what you want.

Stealing Stuff

hStealing Stuff (Video)

This blog provides additional information to the attached video clip.  The clip is from an assertiveness presentation I did for The Business Building Academy.

In my presentation on assertiveness, Don’t Act Like Prey!, I discuss the three R’s of assertiveness:  relationship, rights, and respect.  In this presentation I used the customer/supplier relationship as an example and we discussed the rights of each party.  In this clip, we are discussing the rights of the supplier.  One right of the supplier is that the customer will not steal her stuff.

I never would have thought of that until this story happened to me.

Assertiveness (5), The Finish of the Story

The attached video is an excerpt from a very condensed presentation on assertiveness.  The title of the presentation is The 3 R’s of Assertiveness.  (An alternative title is Don’t Act Like Prey!.) 

Part 5 finishes the story started in the first segment.  It includes important points to remember when you are in a situation where you know the best thing is to be assertive.

This is the final segment of the condensed assertiveness presentation.  I hope you have learned at least one or two items that you want to implement to improve your success.

Assertiveness (4), Respect and Metaphors

The attached video is an excerpt from a very condensed presentation on assertiveness.  The title of the presentation is The 3 R’s of Assertiveness.  (An alternative title is Don’t Act Like Prey!.) 

Part 4, Respect, discusses the importance of respecting ourselves and our rights.  When we do not, we are passive.  It also discusses the importance of respecting others and their rights.  When we do not, we are aggressive.  By respecting ourselves and others, and acting accordingly, we are assertive.

It also discusses using wildlife metaphors for describing passive, aggressive, and assertive behavior.

Each week I will post the next section of the presentation.  Last week was on rights.  Next week will be the final, the finish of the story stared in section 1.