“I am so thankful that a friend recommended to me the services of Samantha and the team at Challenge”

Danny Chung
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For more information:
Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

Ph: 02 8042 8907

[email protected]

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Does the idea of approaching colleagues you’ve never mingled with before make you nervous? Not sure how to ask the right questions and give the right answers? Chances are, you’re not alone. Even for the most confident people, networking can be a daunting prospect. It’s even more terrifying when you’re an introvert. When you’re shy, taking that first step into the unknown can be difficult.

However, networking is one of the most effective and least expensive methods to raise your profile and advance your career. When done right, you’ll find that it’s all about communicating passions and connecting with others who share those passions. It’s about listening, figuring out what others need and connecting them with people you think can help, without any designs for personal gain. The most successful networkers build genuine relationships and give more than they receive. They go beyond thinking, “What’s in it for me?” to ask “How can I help?”

To follow this approach, here are five ways to network successfully and have fun doing it:

 

 

Start small

Start with people you know, then expand to their acquaintances and finally strangers after the process becomes second nature. It’s not necessarily a bad idea to dive into the deep end and immerse yourself in a room full of people you don’t know, but networking is one of those skills that you will need for life so don’t hesitate to take the time to ease yourself into it.

 

Stop apologising

Drop the habit of apologising needlessly! It is easy to apologise when asking for help if you see networking as an imposition and not as exercise in relationship building. You are not asking anyone to do you a favour, so believe that you are worth their time. It could demonstrate your lack of professionalism and confidence, so don’t have to apologize for asking for help. Don’t have to apologize for wanting to learn more about the individual with whom you’re networking. One day you may be able to help them out.

 

Have a plan

The best networkers are always prepared and have a plan. Grab a notebook and bring it with you while networking to refer to some pointers or to take some notes.

Since every person has value, it’s essential that you know what yours is. Take the time to clarify what talents, strengths, skill sets and connections you can bring to the table. Map out what you want to talk about, particularly how you may be able to help other people, either now or in the future. If you’re attending an event specifically to network your way to a new job, have your personal pitch ready, anticipating questions you may be asked, such as why you’re looking for a new job, and have clear, concise answers at the ready.

If you’re afraid you’ll freeze up or get tongue-tied in a social setting, think of ice-breaker questions you can ask people you meet. You can try:

-Commenting on your surroundings – you’re all in the same location so use it to your advantage. Ask if they’ve ever been here before and it could lead to finding where they work and what they do. You could also talk about the food that’s provided!

-Humour – Everyone loves a laugh and it’s a great way to move past any initial awkwardness and kick-start a fun conversation. Make a silly joke and see where it goes from there. You could either be remembered as the one with the bad jokes or the good jokes, either way you’ll be remembered.

-Finding people who look a little lost or lonely – these people might just be like you and are unsure of how to approach new people. Walk on over and introduce yourself – they might just be waiting for someone to come and talk to them. They would appreciate the gesture and would be more likely to open up to you for a chat.

-Compliment people – Point out an accessory someone could be wearing like their watch or necklace. People typically enjoy others noticing their efforts to look good, and these interactions are a friendly way to start a conversation.

 

Relate, don’t promote

Forget your personal agenda. Instead, make it your goal to be open, friendly and honest, and to forge connections between people who may be able to help each other. Generosity is an attractive quality and it’s something special that people will remember about you. Good professional networking isn’t about selling. Instead, it’s about building relationships and creating friendships. At business networking events and conferences, ask lots of questions and most importantly, listen rather than talk too much. Find common ground and connect, and remember what’s being said. This will help build your credibility when you follow up and people see that you’ve taken the time and effort to remember them and your conversation.

 

Follow Up Respectfully

If you told someone you’d get in touch with them, do it and reaffirm your intent to assist in any way you can. After an initial meeting, follow up with your contacts with a ‘thank you and nice to connect’ message. Based on your conversation, send them an article or other information they might find helpful. Make it a priority to follow up promptly so you’re fresh in their mind, and invite them to connect on LinkedIn or a similar industry networking platform. These simple methods can be highly effective for building your connections, ensuring any future approach is more warmly received.

If you promised to introduce someone to a person you know, take the time to do it. Everyone is busy these days with jobs, families, events, commitments — even so, it takes no more than a minute to shoot off an email to introduce two people you want to connect. They can take it from there and do the work — just enjoy being the bridge. Little things like that mean a lot to people and just one introduction can end up changing someone’s life for the better.

 

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Are you considering a move abroad? Perhaps you’ve always dreamt of working in Hong Kong or New York but have yet to make the big move. Ponder no longer! Here are six reasons why gaining international experience is a great idea for you and your career.

1. Upskilling – The knowledge and experience you gain whilst working abroad can be a huge boost to your career. Aside from the obvious exposures to new cultures and languages, you may get the chance to work on interesting projects or with high profile clients – opportunities that could set you apart from your peers at home.

2. Fast Track to a Senior Position – Depending on your industry, role and where you intend to relocate, you may be lucky enough to move in to a more senior role fairly quickly. Perhaps you are highly skilled in an area that is developing in another jurisdiction or experiencing a skills shortage? In that instance, you could be bringing a wealth of valuable knowledge and experience to the table and have the chance to compete for roles that could be far off in your home country.

3. Soft Skills – By embracing opportunities overseas you are revealing your passion and adaptability. Employers want staff who are motivated, ambitious and flexible to adapt to changing circumstances. Moving to a new job and a new country emphasises your determination and resilience in dealing with challenges.

4. Networking on an International Platform – Accepting a role in another country will inevitably open up your network and allow you connect with colleagues all over the world. These connections may prove fruitful in keeping you updated with developments and job opportunities in your chosen field.

5. Personal Growth – Moving abroad especially on your own is no easy feat however it’s a challenge that can bring with it immense personal growth and enrichment. The opportunity to move outside of your comfort zone, experience a new culture and language and meet new people is likely to have an enduring impact on your life.

6. Point of Discussion – Moving to another country and getting that overseas experience will be a point of discussion for the rest of your career. Having interesting experiences and stories to tell about your time abroad will set your CV apart from other candidates on the pile.

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Have you reached a point in your career where you are questioning if you have chosen the right path? Are you ready for a career change but are going around in circles and at a loss as to where to start?

Recognise your fears

Fear is one of the key factors that prevents us from moving forward. Fear can have a paralysing effect on us, preventing us from making difficult decisions like changing career for fear of making a huge mistake. Perhaps you are worried about a drop-in income, a loss of status, concerns that you are throwing away all your hard work to date. In truth, if you didn’t have these fears it would be concerning. Fear is our body’s response to perceived threat and the reality is that there are very real issues to be considered before jumping in to a new career. However, fear in and of itself is not a reason to stand still and maintain the status quo. Don’t let your fear be the only thing standing in your way of a new and exciting career.

Stop researching and start doing

If you are considering a career change, the likelihood is that you have already spent endless hours online researching the idea – looking at job advertisements, qualifications and reading topical articles and blogs. If you have, the likelihood is that you are more confused and worried than when you started. Whilst all this googling can persuade us that we are taking active steps to change career, the reality is that when all is said and done we are in exactly the same position as when we started. In order to bring about change, you need to take some action. That means less time googling and more time spent pushing outside your comfort zone. For ideas on how to do this read on!

Use your network

It’s likely that you have developed an extensive network of contacts over the years through friends, family and social media networks such as LinkedIn. Take advantage of these connections. Connecting with an expert or mentor in your area of interest can be extremely useful as it will give you the opportunity to discuss your career aspirations with someone who has insight and experience and in turn benefit from their advice and coaching. They may even be able to arrange some job opportunities for you. You may also find it beneficial to discuss your goals with a recruitment agent or a professional employment coach for another perspective. Use your network to help find the appropriate person.

Don’t be a bystander – take some active steps

The best way to learn about a new career is to do so first hand. Take a leap and take some active steps to put you on the right course for a career change. You may find out that what you had in mind isn’t the right path for you but at least you will have learned something, excluded another option and reevaluated what you are looking for.

Some ideas you might consider are as follows:

• Attend a networking event with professionals in your area of interest
• Arrange a secondment or shadowing opportunity in your current employment if there is another department or team of interest to you
• Take up a voluntary position with an organisation of interest
• Consider additional qualifications you might need to prepare you for a new role
• Reach out to your network (see above)

Consider the timing

The thought of making a drastic change to your career path overnight can be daunting and overwhelming but taking action doesn’t mean you need to jump in with both feet straight away. You may have a lot of concerns about making this leap and be experiencing stresses and strains in your personal life. In this case, the best approach for you may be to wait until you are in a more secure position personally before you make any big moves. There is nothing wrong with taking a gradual approach to your career change as it needs to fit in with where you are in your life at present. The best course of action may be to dip your toe in to new possibilities by taking some of the steps highlighted above.

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Linkedin currently has over 500 million users in 200 countries and territories and has plans to expand its user base to 3 billion in the not so distant future. It seems that Linkedin is not going away any time soon, with the platform increasingly playing a role in the search for talented candidates.

Faced with 500 million other Linkedin user profiles it can be overwhelming to think of ways to make your profile stand out in such a huge crowd. To give you a helping hand we have pulled together some top tips for ensuring your Linkedin profile has maximum impact on the right people!

Choosing the right profile picture

Make sure you have a profile photo! According to Linkedin, profiles with photos get 21 times more profile views than those without. We would advise you to keep it simple – use a plain background to avoid distraction and ensure you are presented professionally. Make eye contact with the camera and smile! Avoid selfies or using photos with family or friends be it on holidays or on a night on the town. Whilst you might think these photos indicate how sociable and well-travelled you are, they can also serve to create a negative impression and distract from the professional image you are trying to present. You may also want to consider paying for a professional head shot to avoid the pit falls above!

Sell yourself in a brief profile

This is your chance to really sell yourself and let potential recruiters and employers out there understand who you are, what you do and where your interests lie. Very often we come across profiles containing a large number of ‘Featured Skills’. Whilst we would encourage you to complete this section to ensure your profile features in any search results for that skill, where we have 100’s of candidates with a similar background and skill set it can become very difficult to distinguish between them. This is where your personal profile comes in to play! Providing a summary allows you to put your skills in to context by giving some brief information on your background and experience to date. If you are open to new roles or changing career paths, this section also offers you the opportunity to clarify the type of roles you would be interested in hearing about. Make it as easy for the recruiters and employers out there to understand where you are coming from and where you want to be!

Encourage head hunting by making your profile public

We live in an age where we are increasingly wary of the risks of putting our personal details online. However, if you want to attract the attention of employers and recruiters out there it really is essential they be able to view your profile. You don’t need to include personal details like addresses or phone numbers but by making your profile public, employers and recruiters have the option to decide if you’re a good fit for any potential roles and approach you via InMail. If for whatever reason you are reluctant to mention in your summary profile that you are looking for new roles, you could make use of Linkedin’s relatively new functionality which allows you designate yourself as ‘Open to new opportunities’. This functionality is only available for premium users of Linkedin such as subscribers of Linkedin Recruiter which is typically used by recruiters and human resource professionals and is therefore unlikely to be visible to your current employer or Linkedin connections.

Personalise your profile

Create a multi-dimensional profile by including information which sets you apart and makes your profile memorable. Make sure to include any voluntary experience you have completed, memberships of organisations or committees as well as any major personal accomplishments. Endorsements and recommendations from previous employers will also help your profile stand out from others. Connect with Linkedin groups of interest to you which will not only expand your network but also give potential employers and recruiters an idea of your outside interests.

Linkedin has become something of a game changer in recruitment. It is a platform that is being utilised like never before by recruiters and employers alike who are using it frequently to source talent particularly in areas where there is a skills shortage. If your Linkedin profile is not up to scratch it may be overlooked! Give yourself the best chance of obtaining a new role by following our top tips to reinvigorate your profile!

For information on Linkedin Statistics see: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-numbers-2017-statistics-meenakshi-chaudhary and https://press.linkedin.com/about-linkedin?#

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Being motivated brings many rewards – it compels you to take action and pushes you to succeed. Advice about how to become more motivated is plentiful but if it’s not directed towards your personal motivation style, it might not be all that useful to you. When you know your motivation style, however, you can better direct your efforts.

Your motivation style affects how you behave as well as how quickly and successfully you achieve your goals. Usually people fall into two broad categories – those who are motivated towards achieving their goals and those who are motivated by fear of not achieving their goals. Both styles are effective as long as you understand which is your style and how to work with it.

Towards motivations

If you’re the type of person who is motivated towards goals, you tend to spend time thinking about what you will gain by achieving them. You love goals that come with incentives such as a bonus, promotion or pay rise. You also like goals that give you a sense of accomplishment especially when it’s coupled with positive feedback from others or, better still, an award.

As a towards motivation type you are an optimist and you usually see the world in a positive light. It’s a good way to be – just watch that you’re not spending all your time dreaming. Try to maintain a balance by making sure that you take the actions needed for achieving your goals.

Away from motivations

When you spend your time thinking about what will happen if you don’t reach your goal, you’re motivated by fear. It’s all about the consequences. Let’s say you’re studying to get a qualification. A towards motivation type might be thinking about graduation day and celebrating their academic achievement; you will be thinking about how disappointed you’ll be with yourself if you fail, and how embarrassing it would be to have to tell your family and friends.

Although as an away motivation type you tend to be a little pessimistic, you can make it work in your favour. This is especially true when it comes to wanting to change. You’re so good at imagining what your life would be like if you stay where you are and being fearful of stagnation, that you work hard to make the necessary changes.

The most important thing about understanding your motivation style is to use your style to its best effect. Once you do that, you open yourself up to growing both professionally and personally. Feeling motivated?

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FOUR TOP TIPS FOR REACHING YOUR GOALS

It’s great to set some goals for the future – they give you a sense of purpose and a roadmap for where you’re going. But setting goals is just the beginning – you also need to achieve them. Here are our four top tips:

  1. Lay down plans

Well-laid plans are well played plans. Break your goal down into milestones to give you a sense of control. Milestones are the steps to your goal and can be further broken down into tasks.

Let’s say your goal is to find a new job. Ask yourself, what do I need to do that? You might decide to start with updating your resume – that would be your milestone. Then ask yourself, what do I need to do that? Maybe you can start making notes on some of your recent achievements or research on the internet for some tips on resume writing – they would be your tasks.

Write down all of your milestones, their corresponding tasks and a definition for how you will know when you have completed them. Give yourself a timeframe for each and tick off each task and milestone as you go.

  1. Create new habits

Very often the process for coming closer to your goal means doing a particular task on a regular basis – it’s like building up a muscle. Each day you work on it, it gets a little stronger. If you’re looking for a new job, a regular task might be to keep checking job sites and honing your skills in writing engaging cover letters.

Make a habit of doing the necessary tasks. They say it takes three weeks to form a habit, so stick with it safe in the knowledge that it will get easier. When you’re starting out, put aside some time each day, then tell yourself that you only have to do your task for fifteen minutes and then you can stop. Nine times out of ten, you’ll find that you’ll be happy to keep going.

  1. Focus on the process

Research has shown that our brains tend to focus on the most difficult part of any task. Consequently, we’re often tricked into thinking that it’s all too hard and finding excuses for putting it off. And if we put it off for too long, we can give up on the goal before we even start.

To help us, we frequently hear advice telling us to visualise having already achieved our goal. Unfortunately this type of visualisation often results in fantasising about a future and procrastinating about doing anything about it. Better, more motivating advice is to visualise doing the processes you need to go through to reach your goal.

  1. Commit to the weekly weigh in

Each day ask yourself, what did I do today to get me closer to where I want to be? This question makes you accountable for your actions towards your goal and will help to keep you on track.

Another way to make yourself accountable is to tell someone what you are going to do over the week towards your goal. Be careful who you tell though because some people won’t be interested. You need someone who will give you a hard time if you’ve procrastinated about following your goal plan.

When you get to the end of your week, write a summary of everything that you achieved. If you’ve kept yourself accountable, you’ve probably achieved quite a lot and you’ll feel energised for the next week.

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Do you love your job and want to get better at it? Are you thinking of moving into a more interesting role at your current workplace? Or are you looking for your new dream job? If you’re serious about making some changes in your career, stop thinking about it and start putting some goal-setting strategies together.

Setting yourself a few time-bound, specific, challenging goals will give you the direction you need to find your way to where you want to be. Here are some strategies:

  1. Be specific

Give yourself clarity and vision. State in detailed, specific terms what you want to achieve. This type of goal setting ensures you won’t settle for less and be tempted to convince yourself that it’s ‘good enough’.

  1. Make it difficult

Make your goals challenging but achievable. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure by making your goal too difficult, but you do want your goal to challenge you enough to stoke your enthusiasm for getting there. Remember, there is no such thing as an easy goal – if you never challenge yourself, you will never change.

  1. Set deadlines

Deadlines are great motivators – they keep you committed to your goal because they make you focus on what you need to do. Deadlines help you to break down your goals into tasks and milestones that will set you on the road to reach your goal.

  1. Understand the why

Understanding the why of your goal gives you the energy to persist when times get tough. It also gives your goal greater meaning and purpose, firing up your passion and inspiration.

  1. Prepare for the ifs

Rarely does the journey towards a goal come without a few twists, turns and bumps in the road. That’s why people have ‘what if?’ plans. There’s almost always more than one way to reach a destination and, as all scouts know, it’s good to be prepared.

  1. Keep your eye on the prize

Sometimes you need to close your eyes to see yourself. Try it. See yourself in your mind as being there already with your prize for reaching your goal. Breathe it in and let the feelings wash over you. Now go for it…

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Leadership takes on many responsibilities; it can be very busy and even tiring at times and therefore motivation levels can fluctuate. However, in this role you need to be able to keep yourself motivated because in turn it keeps the rest of your team motivated and thriving in the business.

It starts with keeping in check your own personal motivation – your passions, continuing to challenge yourself with various projects and remembering why you committed to these goals in the first place. What you are trying to achieve?

Sometimes the quickest way to lose motivation or even exhaust your level of motivation is to spend all of your time and energy trying to motivate and please the needs of your team. The truth is motivation is personal and you cannot force it upon others. Instead, leading by example through your own motivations, you can inspire others to motivate themselves and drive them to perform better. It’s showing the way towards success.

Methods for self-motivation can include:

• Learning new skills – What is needed for your current role? Where can you obtain these skills? Is there anyone who you can consult with for direction or advice?

• Taking appropriate leave breaks to relax & rejuvenate – Clearing your mind of distractions (and resting), taking the time to find out more about yourself or pursuing a personal goal or hobby.

• Spending time developing a self-improvement plan and setting goals – Where do you see your role developing in line with your business goals? Where do you see your team going and what do you need to do to help guide them there?

• Investing in courses and training that can lead to growth and development – Are there any conferences within your local area that are providing information on areas of development? Have you looked into local educational institutions and what courses they provide? Are there any online resources that you could review outside of business hours?

Building your own motivation by developing our skills and abilities also provides the knowledge and insight to pass on to others. If others within your team are seeking your advice or direction, you can provide recommendations and information on what you have looked into previously, helping direct others toward their future success.

Make sure to also keep following up on your personal progress and what motivates you, whether it is every month or six months. That way you can help keep your motivation levels consistent and on track.

If you are currently in a leadership role, what motivates you? More importantly, in what ways do you keep your drive and motivation consistent?

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When you look up the term ‘leadership’ or ‘leadership roles’, you will find many articles on what to do to become a great leader. It is also important to be aware of bad habits that can hinder progress.

I know I have been guilty of at least two of the items listed below, but the first step is being aware of these habits so that you can find the ways to improve your leadership performance:

  1. Taking credit for others’ ideas and contributions – We all know the famous term, there is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’. It is very exciting when members of your team make a contribution that takes the organisation in a positive direction. However, the biggest failures one can make as a leader is to neglect to recognise and acknowledge individual and team contributions. If you are taking credit for someone else’s work, chances are you will start to notice your team working against you and not for you because they do not feel appreciated or valued.
  2. Using a position of power to control and intimidateothers — This autocratic style of leadership will often leave the team with a low level of autonomy. This can prevent creative ideas being presented as team members feel they do not have the right to contribute.
  3. Blaming others when things go wrong – It is important to recognise with the team when mistakes are made and that they have negative consequences in order to assess better solutions for the future. However, singling people out, pointing fingers, or making others carry the full weight of the failure is not reaction a leader should take. A leader needs to stand by their team no matter what, accept responsibility of when things go wrong, keep track of team members and progression, and have an ‘open door’ for team members to approach if they are experiencing struggles on tasks.
  4. Clinging to traditional methods and old ideas –In order to thrive in society most leaders need to think outside the box, take risks when needed and use innovation to be one step ahead of competitors. While traditional methods may have worked in the past, if you find you are constantly using the same strategy when the rest of the world is changing, you may fall behind. This includes those that refuse to learn new skills and tools to keep up with today’s market. If you are not trying to learn and adapt, you will fall behind.
  5. Failing to keep promises – Leaders who make promises but do not follow through risk loss of personal credibility, trust and the goodwill of others. If you have let down your team more than once, it can often take a long time to earn that trust back.
  6. Actingalone – Leaders who do not consult, collaborate or solicit input from others often fail to make enlightened decisions. Leaders also need to make sure they delegate tasks within the team appropriately so that they can stretch their teams’ abilities.

Failing to effectively manage issues – Leaders who dismiss the need to address, manage and resolve issues, place themselves and their organisation at risk.

What are some of the experiences you have learned in a leadership role? What were the learning curves that you have experienced?

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Leading teams requires great commitment and looking outside of yourself to meet their needs. We have provided some tips below to help set you on the right path to a great leadership experience: If you are new to a leadership role they might help guide your way and if you have been at it for a while they may serve as a useful reminder.

1. Brush up on Your Communication Skills. Having clear and precise communication is important, and being honest and open with your team helps build a level of trust. Making sure all staff understand what the goals and expectations are and giving them the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas for feedback is important.

2. Be Committed to Your Goal. Not only should you be explaining the importance of the company goals to your team, but you need to show by example that you support the goals as a leader. This involves setting out the tasks, having follow-up meetings and making sure that your team is on track with what needs to be achieved.

3. Give Verbal Recognition. Verbal recognition for efforts and praise show your support towards the staff member’s accomplishments. It also boosts morale and positivity that encourages a mutual support among team members.

4. A Team Leader Should Lead by Example. A great leader is someone who shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty or dig in to help when the team requires additional support. Someone who can encourage team members to take risks and support them when they do.

5. Invest in Staff Careers. To ensure your staff are up to date with the skills they need for their role, you may need to invest in training, invest time mentoring or finding the right mentor, invest time to discover what they really need and want in order to do a great job.

6. Resolve Conflicts. Any conflict within the workplace needs to be handled promptly and assessed by leaders as soon as it arises. Appropriate measures need to be taken to find resolution or negotiate a mutual agreement. Whether it is conflict in a task or between co-workers, leaders must step up to the plate to take action and problem solve the best way that they can.

7. Teach Adaptability. The effective team manager should teach adaptability and flexibility to all their team members. This results in better communication, a greater sense of empowerment among staff and a faster exchange of information.

8. Build Pride in Your Team. Positive reinforcement on success is a proven way to keep staff motivation high and build pride in your team. It will increase productivity amongst the team and encourage drive towards goals. You are also creating a positive working environment that employees are happy to be a part of.

9. Give Your Staff New Responsibilities. Just as you have developed into your role of leadership, your team are looking for development opportunities. It is important that you help them by giving them the opportunity to take on new responsibilities as the opportunities arise.

Have you lead teams during your career? What were your first experiences when it came to leading teams? What did you find was most successful? What did you learn from the experience?