professional reputation

Why You Should Pay Attention to Facebook’s “On This Day” Feature

Why You Should Pay Attention to Facebook's -On This Day- Feature

In March of 2015, Facebook launched their “On This Day” feature, enabling users to view content they’ve shared or been tagged in on Facebook on that day in previous years. Some users enjoy reminiscing on memories shared over the years and others don’t understand why anyone would care about that content.

But there’s an important reason why you should take a moment to review these previous posts: your privacy.

For those who signed up for Facebook several years ago or prior to starting in your current profession, this is a daily opportunity to review the content you previous published or were tagged in. You may have found it amusing to post a drunken selfie at a party when you were 22, but now that you’re building a professional reputation, you may no longer want to be associated with that behavior, especially as you’re building a professional network on Facebook.

Keep in mind you should assume anything posted on the internet is there to live forever (don’t believe me? Look up your old LiveJournal or Angelfire website on the Wayback Machine…), but there are steps you can take to limit how much of your past is displayed on your Facebook page.

Access your “On This Day” posts here: facebook.com/onthisday

3 Ways to Control Privacy on Previous Facebook Posts

1. Delete the post. If there’s something you want to completely remove from Facebook, you have the option to delete the post. Click on the arrow on the top right of the post and select delete.

Deleting Facebook Posts

2. Change the post audience. Another option is to change the audience who can view the post. Click on the people icon next to the post date and time to select an audience that will be able to view this post.

Change Audience

3. Limit the audience for old posts on your timeline. Use this option to change any previous posts with audiences set to friends of friends or public to friends only. Click on the padlock Privacy Shortcuts link at the top of Facebook, select See More Settings, then click on Limit Old Posts.

Limit Posts

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How Just 1 Negative First Impression Can Leave a Lasting Impression

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What kind of first impression is your team making?

More than 10 years ago, I worked at the front desk of a storage and distribution warehouse. It was a very small satellite of a Canadian company with about 10 employees. One day, I received a call from a large postage meter company. Since part of my job was to thoroughly filter incoming calls and only put through a very limited number to my manager, I had to prevent him from having to take any unnecessary calls.

I allowed the salesperson to make his initial spiel, but being a small company and mailing very little, we didn’t have a need for such a service and I informed of that. He continued to try to sell me on the idea, and I continued to let him know we only mailed maybe a dozen items a month. I’m not a pushy person and probably much more polite than I should be, especially since that was one of my first desk jobs. The salesperson was not pleased with my answer, so he hung up on me.

Yes, the salesperson hung up on me.

To this day, every time I hear that company name – and it’s a big company – I think of that incident and the horrible first impression I have of that company. And even though he was just one person there (who hopefully didn’t work there much longer after that incident), he was a representative of the company providing a very negative lasting impression. So lasting that I saw a competitor’s product at work yesterday and told that story to my coworker, and this is more than 10 years later!

Maybe some don’t think this is a big deal, but what if down the road, I decided to give them a second chance? And what if I had an issue with my account or their product which is bound to happen? Would they be willing to help me or would they hang up on me?

Conversely, had the salesperson been understanding and helpful, perhaps providing his contact information for me to have on hand if perhaps some day our needs changed, I would have remembered that. And if I had needed their services, I would remember that and probably would be much more forgiving if any account or product issues arose. I would also be much more likely to pass that information on to those I knew as a recommendation.

That wasn’t the only time I have been hung up on, but another experience goes to show how a negative situation can be turned around. I took a sales job at my next company selling uniforms to law enforcement. I received a call one day from a police chief and although I was being as helpful as possible (and polite), he hung up on me. That’s fine, I get people have bad days, especially in the law enforcement field. But what turned the situation around was that he called me back moments later and apologized. Yes, he was having a bad day, and no, I hadn’t done or said anything wrong.

While it’s important to provide everyone with excellent customer service, it is imperative to provide a good first impression because as my example shows, bad first impressions can last for decades. And negative experiences spread like wildfire, especially with social media and review sites. Too many negative reviews about a business can quickly kill future business or even put a company out of business.

So make sure if you talk to customers, you are always as helpful and polite as possible and instill this in your team members who talk to customers, because just one negative impression can leave a lasting impression and lose a potential customer, possibly forever. If a negative situation does arise, be sure to quickly respond to try to mend the situation. People can be very understanding and forgiving if you’re sincere. In fact, reaching out to a customer and repairing a negative situation can change their impression and make them a customer for life.

Building positive relationships in and outside of your company will make it a much more pleasant place,  and will also grow your business.

Tell me about your good, bad or redeeming first impressions of a company in the comments – I’d love to hear your experiences!

How to Develop Positive Working Relationships with Difficult Coworkers

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At some point in your career, chances are that you’ll end up working with at least one person who is a complete nightmare. Below I detail nine steps you can take to evaluate the situation and work to turn it into a positive one. You spend a lot of time with coworkers; you may as well make the best of it!

1. Don’t take it personally. Even if your coworker’s wrath seems to be directed at you, chances are there are others feeling it too. If you haven’t done anything to warrant the treatment you’re receiving, consider that maybe the person treating you badly is dealing with some difficult personal problems and may not be intending to treat you badly.

2. Keep it professional. Your coworkers don’t need to be your friends, so keep any personal talk to a minimum and instead, focus on work and upcoming projects with them. Regardless of what’s going on behind the scenes, you still have customers to take care of and a job to do, and that’s the top priority.

3. Be a rock star. Your company still has things that need to be done and goals to achieve, so don’t drop the ball just because you’re unhappy. Instead, challenge yourself to perform at your highest level. This will benefit you in multiple ways: no one will be able to legitimately complain about your performance and if you do decide to move on to another job, you’ve built a great reputation and track record to show your performance to another company.

4. Learn their expectations and rules. You may not agree with how a coworker or boss does things, but if you can at least understand their expectations and rules, it makes it much easier for you to stay in their good side and have a more positive work environment. For example, your boss might require you to arrive 5 minutes early every day but show up late every day themselves; it may not be fair, but if you know this expectation, you can follow it. Rebelling will be ineffective, but you can have the satisfaction that they’re making themselves look bad and you even better.

5.Talk to them about it. It won’t be a comfortable conversation, to say the least, but sometimes you need to just hash it out with someone to repair a relationship. Even if things have gotten extremely awkward, it’s okay to say “hey, I don’t know how we got here, but I don’t like it and would like to start fresh if that’s okay with you.” Then make every effort to stick to that fresh start and leave the past behind. If they’ve been struggling personally, they may not even have any idea they’re treating you poorly and this makes them aware and gives them the chance to repair relationships with others they may be unintentionally mistreating.

6. Talk to HR. If talking to them personally didn’t work, or if the situation has gotten so bad you can’t comfortably speak to the person about the issue, try discussing it with human resources. While they may not be able to fix the problem alone, they can at least act as a mediator during your conversation and help you resolve your issues. Be prepared with examples of any mistreatment, especially if it could be considered workplace bullying in case HR needs to start an investigation. Also be prepared with a couple solutions in case HR asks how you’d like to resolve it.

7. Talk to others. Are other people having problems with this person? This isn’t a time to team others up against this person, but instead see if anyone else is having difficulties with anyone at the company or if they notice any patterns of how you’re being treated. Having allies can help support you and be there while you work through the problem. If no one else is having problems with the person, take that into consideration as well.

8. Take a look in the mirror. Are you the problem? Try to look at your situation from the outside; does the person you’re having issues with have a legitimate right to be upset with you? Did you do something to them that might make them upset with you, such as get a promotion, take one of their customers or put them out some way? When we’re so involved in something, it’s hard to see it for what it is, but think of logical reasons why this person could be upset with you, beyond that they could just be a mean person. Sometimes we’re the problem, not others.

9. Move on. Sometimes there’s just no resolving the problem. Perhaps your problem is with one of the owners or their family members employed at the company or others aren’t able to see the problems you’re having with the person. Or maybe for whatever reason, someone(s) at your company wants you to leave, whether you’ve done something to deserve it or not. Companies are complex and when different people with different backgrounds are forced to spend most of their waking time together, there’s bound to be some problems from time to time. If you’ve tried everything and are still having issues, sometimes the best bet is to just move on.

You may be spending 40+ hours in close quarters with your coworkers, so it’s important to have positive working relationships with them. When coworkers within a company are struggling, it can be obvious to customers and affect sales, putting further strain on your company. if you’re going to stick around, take steps to make things positive for everyone. If you’re planning on leaving, build yourself up to be successful and positive so there’s nothing but positive things to be said about you once you move on. You never know when you might need to go back across that bridge.

5 Steps to Overcoming Disasters in Business

No matter how much planning goes into a project, sooner or later, something can go wrong and a minor disaster can occur.  We’ve all been there and you’ve probably noticed that different people handle these disasters very differently.

The way the disaster is handled can result in a very positive or negative way for the customer.  If you let yourself slip too far into what I call the “panic zone,” you become unfocused and unable to make rational decisions.  The panic zone causes stress and confusion and allowing it to take over will cause you to create a negative experience.

Here’s how you can make it a positive experience:

  1. Stay calm. Staying calm can be very difficult, but it is very important.  You’ve planned and expected your process to follow the plan so when it doesn’t, your whole mental process is thrown off, which is confusing and upsetting.  However, staying calm will allow you to make wiser, better decisions.
  2. Don’t focus on blame.  You may have noticed that for some, pointing blame is the initial reaction.  This is natural, but completely counterproductive for a positive outcome.  If you are wasting resources on blaming others, you aren’t solving the problem at hand which should be the top priority.  Also, if your team members are worried about being blamed, they are less able to focus on problem resolution.
  3. Focus on the end result.   Focusing your concentration on the end result will help guide your thinking to resolving the problem at hand.  If you can use tunnel vision thinking to block out distractions, you can better focus on problem solving and get to a solution a lot faster.  For example, if a shipment is late, focusing on how you can get it there on time will help you get it there on time faster than finding out whose fault it is for making it late.  That can be discussed once you are out of the panic zone and the problem is solved.
  4. Make it happen. If you have invested in resolving this problem, you must stay focused to ensure the solution happens.  Don’t rely on others to make it happen for you—this is your project so you need to stay on top of it.  Nothing is worse in problem solving than getting close to a positive solution then dropping the ball.
  5. Follow through. This goes hand in hand with making it happen.  Ideally, we want our customers to think that we never make mistakes and are always on top of things, but the reality is that we can’t always control situations 100 percent.  Customers generally are understanding and if you make the effort to fix a problem to create a successful outcome for your customer, they generally appreciate it.  Communication is key and it can make you look even better if you let your customer know that your focus is on making sure you’ve gone above and beyond to make sure they get what they want.

Reflection: It is important to acknowledge that problems can’t always be resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.  Perhaps they ordered a custom product that got destroyed in a fire and replacements just cannot be produced in time or maybe the customer is not satisfied with how their order was handled, even with a positive result.

There are situations that are out of your control, but as long as you have done everything you can to reach a positive result, sometimes you have to settle with having an unhappy customer or losing a customer.  It is not an ideal situation, but it is a reality.  The best case scenario for that situation is that your customer is caught in their own panic zone so there’s always the chance they will realize your efforts and come back.

Just remember that the reason you are in business is because of your customers so they and their happiness need to be your immediate focus.  Any internal factors causing these disasters should be evaluated once the problem is resolved to prevent repeating them in the future.

My “Man V. Food” Method to Getting Re-Organized Using Outlook Tasks

My mother once told me my biggest strength was my organizational skills. I must admit, when I put the effort into it, I am an incredible organizer. I love having everything in its particular place, paperwork filed, bills paid, laundry sorted and things very tidy. It just makes me feel better.

However, lately, I’ve fallen out of it with travel and my husband getting in an auto accident, which resulted in a mound of paperwork that has been consuming my evenings. When I fall out of my organization, I start to panic and I can end of focusing on being overwhelmed with tasks rather than completing them.

This does no one any good.

My position at work is an interesting one. This is my sixth year and my third position at this company so I’ve accumulated a lot of responsibilities. There are things I really have no business doing, but ultimately, I am the one most suited to do the task. I have one manager, but also report to other managers and receive multiple requests from all departments each day. Organizing my work can be quite daunting, but is incredibly necessary if I want to succeed.

I am never without my trusty notepad. My current one was started almost a year ago and tracks all requests, phone messages, ideas, you name it. The problem is when my tasks increase, it can get difficult to get a good view of what I really need to accomplish unless it is nicely summarized in an orderly fashion for me. Sound familiar?

THE METHOD

So what’s a good way to get started? Tackling all tasks at once is too overwhelming. Think of any of the Man Versus Food episodes when Adam Richman has several pounds of food to eat; he always starts with a game plan of the most efficient way to eat the food.

Think of your to-do list just like Adam thinks of his eating contests:

  • What is the goal?
  • What is the time limit?
  • What can be done in quick nibbles?
  • What is going to require a bunch of steady bites?
  • What can be cut into smaller pieces to finish bit by bit?

Viewing your workload in the Man V Food method makes tasks easier to accomplish because you can view each task as a bite of your work meal.

ORGANIZATIONAL PROGRAMS

There are tons of task management websites and software available, but sometimes, it feels like that’s an extra task in itself. I started with a free account with ToDoist.com and I was pleased with the initial features. However, to really get what I wanted out of it would cost $29 a year which is very reasonable, but I decided I would stick to my Outlook Tasks instead.

If you’ve ever used your tasks function in Outlook, you may remember how annoying it can be. Tons of red items popping up, reminders you keep having to dismiss, followed by canning the whole thing and ending up a dis-organized mess again. But, when used correctly, Outlook tasks can be a great tool.

Here are some features I really like:

  • Status: You can update the status of each task as a reminder. Waiting on an answer from someone? Simply update the status and set a reminder to follow up.
  • Send Status Report: Maybe you have a list of tasks required by one person. You can create a task for the list to keep tabs on everything required, format using bullet points, highlighting, whatever you want, then set a reminder to send them an update at a specified time. Simply click on Send Status Report and send them an update in one easy email.
  • Assign Task: Maybe you need others to complete tasks for you. Just enter the details in a new task and send to the recipient. Set reminders for them and request to be notified when the task is marked as complete. Set recurrence for recurring tasks.
  • A LOAD of sorting options: Outlook provides multiple options to customize the view exactly how you want it. I like having a preview window below so I can see the details of each task, sort each task by due date, separate them by how soon each is due and have status showing.

PHYSICAL ORGANIZATION

Your desk might be covered in stacks of paperwork as well, adding to the stress of your workload, but this is manageable as well.  Sort paperwork into sections as applicable and stay on top of filing when tasks are completed.

Here’s what works for me:

  • To be handled/current projects: this is a place for anything I’m currently working on that I might need quick access to.
  • Waiting: this is where I put paperwork that is pending approval or a response from someone.
  • To be filed: this is where I put paperwork when it is completed.  Set aside a time each day or week to file this paperwork so it doesn’t pile up.

By getting yourself organized better, you will be able to accomplish tasks more efficiently and completely and show off your competence to complete whatever comes your way.

How do you stay on top of all your tasks?

7 Ways to Be a Better Team Player

A business is not unlike a sports team; they both consist of a variety of people with a variety of skills who share a common goal.  Each player has particular responsibilities and roles to fill, however, when a company has solid teamwork on the inside, it is clearly demonstrated on the outside.

Chances are, you’re not always going to get along with all of your coworkers.  Most sales people have much different personalities than most accountants, operations and selling function differently and there’s usually a divide between departments, regardless of where you work.

However, if you put forth the effort to be a better team player, you can help your company run like a well-oiled machine and not a rusty old pickup.  Here are some tips on how you can be a better team player:

  1. Remember the Golden Rule: Because businesses are professional teams, chances are, you are going to need help from a teammate in the future, regardless of what your position is.  The best way to ensure you have a good chance of getting that favor is if you have done something for others.  So many times, I’ve had to have the warehouse quickly pull and ship an order for me so I make every effort to help them whenever I can because if we help each other, we accomplish our goals faster.
  2. Say yes: Or at least say “I’ll see what I can do,” rather than always initially saying no without consideration.  Many times, when asking a favor of someone else, that person will say “I’m too busy” or provide a list of excuses why they can’t help.  Oftentimes, requests are actually simple and rather than provide a list of excuses why you can’t help, consider whether you actually have time to help.  If you honestly don’t have the time, say so, but your consideration will; be remembered when you need a favor in the future.
  3. Have a sense of humor: Nothing’s worse than breaking bad news to someone who can’t take it and oftentimes, in any business, you get your fair share of bad news.  Don’t be sour about things though; when times are stressful people are more likely to gravitate toward someone who can lighten the mood than to someone who stresses them out.  Additionally, if you are the one receiving the bad news, you will get that news much faster if the giver knows you won’t kill the messenger.  Laughter is contagious and makes for a lighter work environment.
  4. Acknowledge good ideas: It’s easy to get a hurt ego at work, especially if you’re surrounded by talented people.  Do yourself a favor and acknowledge when others have a good idea because it builds a positive work environment.  One of the greatest benefits of working with talented people is sharing ideas and improving your own skills.  When your team looks good, you look good as well and if you give credit to others, they will be quick to credit you.
  5. Avoid the rumor mill: Office gossip can run rampant and when it gets negative, it has a severe impact on employees.  When job stability or unfairness is mentioned, employees get concerned and go on the defense.  By putting a positive spin on any rumors or shutting them down from the get-go, you can change the mindset of your work environment.  Also consider the fact that if others badmouth your coworkers to you, chances are they’re badmouthing you as well.  If you can turn their focus to how others are helping the company, you can spread positive vibes instead of negative.
  6. Be responsible and dependable: If you’ve ever tasked someone with a project only to have them forget, you know the disappointment it brings.  Don’t be that person.  Find the best way to keep track of your responsibilities and follow through with them.  Provide updates and ask questions if needed.  That way, if you hit a bump early on, it’s much easier to resolve than if you wait until the last minute.
  7. Value your team: When things go awry, it’s easy to blame others, but blaming others is not productive whatsoever.  Focus on the end goal and how you can achieve it with the help of your team.  Your positive attitude will make each struggle that much less of a struggle and each success that much sweeter because you can all share in the success you earned together as a team.

Remember, there is no I in team.  Work for your team and they will work for you in return.

Recommended Teamwork Reading

Ocean Marketing: A Public Relations Nightmare and How to Avoid it

If I’ve learned anything in my career, it’s the importance of getting things in writing as well as being courteous to your customers—the lifeblood of any business. Getting things in writing not only serves as a helpful reminder of what needs to be done, it can also help trace the cause and lead-up to both successes and failures to help you succeed in the future.

Email chains serve as a timeline between multiple parties and since everything is in writing, there’s no confusion about what details were spelled out, unlike remembering chicken scratch notes from a meeting. Have you ever been in a long meeting and left remembering only a few vital points and some humorous commentary that didn’t have anything to do with the main topic? This is a time when getting things in writing can help you succeed.

Now, imagine that same meeting with a written agenda with room for note taking then receiving a summary of what was discussed with a plan of action laid out? This way of thinking follows the basic presentation training of “I’m going to tell you what I’m going to talk about, I’m going to talk about it, then I’m going to tell you what I talked about.” Three chances to get the information in your head.

Another great reason for emailing information is it enables you to search for it at a later time in the event you need to obtain information or follow-up. I’ve made a point of including order or model numbers in emails so if I want to trace the lead-up to an order or follow-up on a particular order, all I have to do is search for the order number.

There are times, however, when getting things in writing can be negative. As with anything digital, it is important to understand how easily information, photos, videos or even sound clips can be spread. While the intent may not always be malicious, it can quickly turn that way, especially if emotions get involved.

Take for example, the recent case of Paul Chrisoforo from Ocean Marketing. If you haven’t heard of him yet, he is a public relations professional who forgot his manners and how easy it is to forward an email. What started out as a simple inquiry from a customer regarding the delivery date of a pre-ordered a video game controller, quickly turned into a career train wreck for Paul. Instead of just giving the customer a straight answer, he was vague, got irritated with the customer, then completely insulted and spoke inappropriately to the customer.

In his tirade of insulting the customer, he, in return, let the customer know just how important he was, how many powerful people he knew, and how many gaming expos his company would be attending. When he mentioned PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo, the customer decided that it was time to inform Mike Krahulik, creator of popular comic and blog Penny Arcade, as well as head of the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX).

When Mike read the disastrous email chain, he let Paul know he wouldn’t be getting a booth at the expo. Rather than calm down or even look into who this Mr. Krahulik was, Paul continued the insults, power trip and name dropping. By that point, Mike decided he’d had enough of the drama, and informed Paul that he would be featured on his blog Penny Arcade the next day. Paul was still excited for the feature and PR until he realized who he was dealing with. Now he’s begging for the publicity to stop and has written an apology to both the customer and to Mike, but at this point, he’s completely damaged his reputation as a PR professional.

Although this put Paul and his company in a very negative light, I would say that this could actually help his career, similarly to the way the E. coli scare at Jack-In-The-Box helped their sales.  At the time, no one wanted to eat there, but shortly thereafter, it was regarded as one of the safest places to eat because the restaurant chain was taking extra precautions to ensure no one else got sick from their food.

Could this be the same case with Mr. Christoforo? Could he really be a brilliant enough PR professional to swing his career into a successful one or has he ruined his career in public relations forever?

I’m sure there are times when it might feel good to really let a customer know what you think, but in the long run, it’s not good for anyone. And worse, as Paul Christoforo so clearly demonstrated, giving a customer that kind of ammunition can be extremely damaging, not just for the person who sent it, but for the reputation of the company as well. Even if you aren’t intending to be insulting or short with someone, because it is in writing and not spoken, it can sometimes come off that way.

So keep your customers happy and your reputation safe with a few tips:

  • Write every correspondence with the knowledge that it only takes one click to forward your message. If you wouldn’t want someone else reading it, you probably shouldn’t write it.
  • If the person you’re communicating seems unclear about what you have written or seems to be getting frustrated, call the person or allow them to “please call” you so you can ensure you are on the same page. If you want to keep that record in writing, it is perfectly acceptable to write a follow-up email “per our conversation” to reiterate your points.
  • Always be courteous and polite, opting to close the email with “thank you” or “best regards” rather than “thanks…” or just your email signature. Make them feel special.
  • If you’re not sure how your email will be taken, have someone else read it. Don’t read it to them because they need to read it as your customer would—without your tone of voice.

The customer may not always be right, but no one likes to be told they are wrong and if someone is paying for a product or service, they want the respect they deserve from that company. Treat them well and you will prosper. Treat them poorly and you will damage your and your company’s reputations.

Penny Arcade Blog Post: http://penny-arcade.com/resources/just-wow1.html