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Communication is the Key to a Great Career

Ever notice that your behavior changes when you are around either children or adults?

With children, we take time to explain things. With adults, we have little patience or we rush people through their sentences. With children, we ask them their opinion. With adults, we are either uninterested or interrupt them when they speak.

But then we ask ourselves why some of our relationships at work aren't satisfying. We see the same people every day, yet communication is difficult or strained. Or, why at interviews, conversations with recruiters or with attendees at networking functions, we are not getting our points across effectively? Many I speak to wonder why people don't get them. They want to be understood, but they are not. They tell me they feel isolated and alone. And, their career is hurting because of it.

Communication is not as hard as we believe it to be. My clients tell me they are afraid to speak up or be straight forward because it won't end well. True communication is individuals listening to one another and exchanging ideas. Mix in acceptance and patience, and you have the recipe for a great conversation.

So, how can you communicate better in your Career? Follow these three steps:

1. Tell The Truth About How You Communicate

This is your opportunity to be honest. Are you a person who wonders why no one listens to you, but you rarely listen to what people say to you? Do you wonder why people don't get you, but you don't get them? Get interrupted a lot? Do you interrupt? Ever feel judged? Are you a judge? You give what you get in your career. Usually, we don't like in others, is what we haven't discovered yet or admitted openly about ourselves. You can alter your communication style once you understand how you are interacting with others. Then, you can decide to change your approach.

2. Get Ready To Be A Better Communicator

Make a list of people you have trouble communicating with. Next to their name, write down what the problem is. Ask yourself how you contribute to the difficulty. Next, write down what you will do differently going forward. For example, next to John's name, you could say "I will listen to him more." Or, "I won't interrupt him when he speaks." Usually when something is not working, we look outward. "What is someone doing to me, and why won't they change their behavior? " That's not how it works. Want to change the people around you? Change yourself first.

3. Start Communicating Better

This is when you get to try out a new behavior. Expect to feel uncomfortable at first. You haven't owned your new communication style yet, and you haven't created your new habit or routine. The hardest part is getting started and being a better communicator will get easier over time. Also, expect weird looks or surprised faces at first. The people you are communicating with may look at you strangely in the beginning because you are doing something different. Don't worry. Over time, they will get to know and like the new you. Your career will begin to get better because your relationships are getting better. And, that's because of your hard work and effort. Good for you.

So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!

Check out this video on communications skills:


Deborah Brown-Volkman, PCC, is the president of Surpass Your Dreams, a career, life, and mentor coaching company, and author of "Coach Yourself To A New Career," "Don't Blow It! The Right Words For The Right Job" and "How To Feel Great At Work Everyday."
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Are Phishers Targeting Your Small Business Web Site?

You’ve probably heard of all the hack attacks going on lately. From Sony PlayStation, Nintendo and Sega to Lockheed Martin and Citibank, large companies are seeing the wrath of hackers looking for monetary gain by stealing consumer information.

But it’s not just large companies getting hit. The Anti-Phishing Working Group is reporting that more than one-third of respondents to a new Web Vulnerabilities Survey were repeat victims of phishing attacks—and those attacks ended with success.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents reported that their Web sites had phishing or spoof sites planted on their Web servers two or more times before, a telling statistic that reflects both the persistence of phishers and the difficulties of keeping them at bay.

“Phishers value compromised web sites highly because they are much harder for interveners to take down. They’re confident that they’ll be able to identify and exploit sites, and do so repeatedly. Victims are not mitigating exploits entirely or are not implementing adequate measures to keep them away,” says APWG Research Fellow Dave Piscitello of ICANN.

“Keeping all components of a web site—OS, web server, applications, and content—patch current and applying the most secure configuration options possible could significantly reduce initial and repeat attacks.”

Some general takeaways from the report:

  • Web sites could do better implementing preventative measures

  • Organizations aren’t adequately monitoring for strange behavior or suspicious traffic patterns

  • 20% of victims say the attacks were discovered by their own staff

  • 52% percent were informed of the attack by third-party security companies


“You can’t publish active content in Internet time and verify that your protective measures against attacks remain effective. Vulnerability testing, if done at all, is done too infrequently,” says Piscitello. “That nearly 80 percent of incidents are being detected by third parties tells us that too few organizations take real time monitoring or examination of logs for suspicious activities seriously.”

When it comes to Internet security, a little common sense can go a long way. Here are four tips for protecting your small business from a phishing attack.

  1. Don’t open e-mails or attachments from people you don’t know.

  2. Pay attention to where links are actually taking you.

  3. If you are suspicious, close the browser immediately. Open a new window and type in the URL manually to the site you are trying to visit.

  4. Remain cautious and use safe e-mail and browsing habits consistently to avoid becoming aloof.


Check out this YouTube video with more practical advice:

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Small Business Crisis Communications, Part 4

In this final part of our series on small business crisis communications, we'll take a look at how best to handle a bad situation while you are in the midst of it...

PR pros agree that less is better when dealing with the media. As mentioned in the last installment, if you can’t verify it, then don’t say it. Wait until you have all the facts before responding.

Check out this YouTube video on the right way to apologize:



At the same time, it’s important to be open and honest in the midst of a fire, a slip and fall, a financial issue or some other PR black eye. Don’t say anything that is not true because it could come back to haunt you. It’s an easy rule, but too many people try to say the right thing and get into trouble.

“Take the lead and take control,” says Vince McMorrow, vice president of public relations for RMD Advertising in New Albany, Ohio. “Too many of the media’s talking heads are ready to comment, take the lead and establish the correct information. Speak with one voice. Using one company spokesperson will keep statements consistent. Finally, get outside the box. Don’t adopt a bunker mentality.  Understand the crisis from every vantage point.”

Denyse Dabrowski, vice president of The Marcus Group, Inc. a Secaucus, N.J.-based public relations firm., says you retain control of the story by announcing both positive and negative information while demonstrating care, concern and empathy for all parties involved. Regardless of the severity of the issue, experts stress avoiding responses born out of stress. Staying calm will help you make better decisions and present a better case to the media.

“Obtain information from the people closest to the incident--beware of information filtering,” Dabrowski says. “Accept that you will not have all the information that you want when you want it. Make decisions and stick to them, but be flexible if the situation changes. And accept the responsibility for the outcome--but not the blame. Then address the issue of reform.”

McMorrow says crisis management requires leadership and teamwork to ride out a difficult storm. The communications to varied audiences requires an objective vision, patience and decisions your team can stand behind. Depending on the situation, McMorrow offers the following “message points” to help explain what happened and the status of the current situation. This, he says, will help you avoid those knee-jerk reactions that Schoff warned against. Here are some talking points:

“When we became aware of the issue, we came forward.”

“We are cooperating fully with authorities.”

“Precautions were in place, but no precaution can stop nature or someone who violates trust.”

“We are working to correct the issues that led to the crisis.”

McMorrow says the spokesperson needs to know the message, package the message, deliver the message with conviction and apologize to anyone affected by this action. If you know what you’re talking about, then the media sound bites take care of themselves. Responding and responding in a timely manner is a point that PR pros emphasize as an absolute must in any situation.
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Are You Managing Your Small Business' Online Reputation?

Do you know what's being said about your small business online? Sure, you could use Google Alerts, which I would highly recommend, to get mentions of your small business' name and associated e-mail addresses sent to your inbox as they happen. But you can also do a little more--without breaking the bank.

Although there are plenty of online reputation management tools you can pay for out there, Google is offering a free options. Google on Wednesday launched an online reputation management tool for the masses. Dubbed “Me on the Web, the tool is part of the Google dashboard amid analytics and account information.

"In recent years, it’s become easier and easier to publish information about yourself online, through powerful new platforms like social networking sites and photo sharing services,” explains Andreas Tuerk, a product manager at Google.

Tuerk acknowledges that way to manage your privacy on these sites is to decide who specifically can see this information, determining whether it is visible to just a few friends, family members or everyone on the web. But Google is taking a different approach. “Me on the Web” is not a privacy tool at all.

As Tuerk sees it, another important decision when publishing information on the web is choosing how you are identified when you post that information. That’s where Google is focusing its efforts.

“We have worked hard to build various identity options into Google products. For example, while you may want to identify yourself by name when you post an answer to a question in a forum so that readers know the response is reputable, if you upload videos about a controversial cause you may prefer to post under a pseudonym,” Tuerk says.

Tuerk went on to explain that your online identity is determined not only by what you post, but also by what others post about you -- whether a mention in a blog post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update. When someone searches for your name on a search engine like Google, Tuerk said, the results that appear are a combination of information you’ve posted and information published by others.

Google’s new tool aims to make it easier to monitor your identity on the web and to provide easy access to resources describing ways to control what information is on the web.

“Me on the Web also provides links to resources offering information on how to control what third-party information is posted about you on the web,” Tuerk says. “These include common tips like reaching out to the webmaster of a site to ask for the content to be taken down, or publishing additional information on your own to help make less relevant websites appear farther down in search results.”

So if you haven't checked into your small business' online reputation, check out these tools right away. You might be pleasantly surprised or mortified by what you find. Either way, you need to know.
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Small Business Crisis Communications, Part 3

In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we looked at why crisis communications is important and how to prepare before the storm. In part 3, we'll take a closer look at how to respond to a crisis through your public relations efforts.

With a plan in place, you are prepared to quickly respond to the storm. PR pros say your immediate response should include the following: gathering facts, alerting and deploying the crisis response team, acknowledging the situation with 24 hours, cooperating with the media, assessing legal liability, reaching out to target audiences, and monitoring media coverage.

You will have several potential audiences to consider, including the victim, if any, the media, your employees and their families, clients, and other stakeholders.

It is very important to communicate with both your employees and your customers during a crisis. Not responding to a media inquiry during a crisis is almost an admission of guilt. About 30 minutes before new information was released to the media during the bankruptcy proceeding we gave all personnel directions on how to handle phone calls, who to transfer media questions to, and how to respond appropriately if they were caught off-guard with a question.

At the same tie, you want to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to a crisis situation. Stop to take a couple of deep breaths, gather your thoughts, and refer to that crisis communications plan that you should have drafted six months ago. The goal is to prevent employees from being forced to deal with the media.

Indeed, many times employees are not equipped to deal with those kinds of pressures from the media. Employees should tell the media that comments have to come from their supervisors or someone from the home office. Unfortunately that doesn’t always cut it. It is real important that you’re careful with what you say to news reporters, and most importantly to be honest and if you don’t know, you don’t know.
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