How to appear confident in front of your clients- Top 5 tips for professional women

Self Confidence

Whether its charisma or magnetic charm, it comes from one thing and that is self-confidence.  Women who appear sure of themselves seem to attract clients and projects almost effortlessly.  Why? Because their confidence and belief in their own abilities inspires people to place their trust in them. Come to think of it, don’t we all look towards people who appear sure of themselves during times of crisis? Do we ever turn to timid, shy or nervous people for help? No, right? Then why would a manager or client trust you with their valuable time, money and resources, unless you can inspire trust in them?

Using the confidence magnet to attract new clients- Tips and tricks:

1. Don’t be too modest

If you are good at something say it! Your clients will not be able to figure out all your skills on their own. Don’t be shy about talking of your achievements, but remember to stick to the relevant ones only (no boasting about sports trophies you won at school unless of course your job requires you to use your athletic abilities). Finally, make sure you let the client know how and why you are their best choice!

2. Speak slowly

Speaking fast is not only a sign of nervousness, it also often hampers communication. For one, your client may not understand what you are saying if you speak too fast, if they ask you to repeat yourself, you are likely to get flustered, thus making your lack of confidence even more apparent.

3. Mind your body language

Your body language says a lot about your state of mind. If your confidence levels are running low, your actions and eye movements will betray you, unless you are very good at acting! Even non-observant people can read the language of the eyes and hands. So, while you are talking to your clients, try to make frequent eye contact, avoid using exaggerated hand movements and don’t touch your hair or face too much as that will send across the signal that your nervous/interested in more than a professional relationship/or are trying too hard to impress.

4. Talk enthusiastically

Enthusiasm can be infectious, so make sure when you talk about your services or products you inject the right amount of enthusiasm in your voice.  Speaking passionately about your project will not only help you win more brownie points than your competitors but will also inspire the client’s trust.  From a buyer’s perspective, a woman who oozes out confidence and passion for what she does is likely to deliver great results!

5. Address difficult topics before the project starts

The difference between under-confident and confident professionals and businesswomen is that the latter do not shy away from discussing difficult subjects like legal concerns, payment security, etc. If you address these topics in a firm and polite way, not only will you appear confident but will also win the client’s respect.

Self-confidence can do wonders for your business. Just remember not to cross the line and stray into the area of arrogance.

Top 4 Confidence Building Tips for Professional Women

Self-confidence has a knack for attracting success.  There may be a lot of people out there who may have skills and talents similar to yours, but what will set you apart from them is your belief in yourself. The more confident you are of your potential, the greater will be your power to attract the clients, projects and/or deals you want. After all, unless you feel good about yourself, you won’t be able to convince others that you have what it takes to succeed.

How to boost your self confidence?

Tip 1- Fake it till you make it!

So, you aren’t feeling too confident about yourself or feel intimidated by your colleagues? Well, then your best option is not to let it show! Even more so if you work in a male dominated profession. Men tend to show a great degree of gender loyalty, especially when they are in majority.  Appearing confident is therefore, essential if you want to be taken seriously. Some common tricks that will give you an aura of self- confidence include- a) A firm handshake b) Walking with your back straight c) Talking slowly and articulately d) Making eye contact while talking e) Knowing your subject well.

The best part of faking it is that the longer you do it, the more confident you will start feeling!

Tip 2- Pay attention to your grooming and health

A woman’s physical appearance too affects her confidence levels.  This doesn’t mean to appear confident, you must look and feel stunning. Just feeling good about yourself and your grooming can do wonders for your self- confidence.

Tip 3- Stand up for yourself

Compassion and empathy, though wonderful traits, should not stop you from asserting yourself in the work place.  Remember being cool headed and understanding is not the same thing as letting people walk all over you.  For example, if you let people talk disrespectfully to you because you don’t want to create a scene or because you understand where they are coming from, it will send across the message that you do not have  enough confidence to stand up for yourself.

Tip 4- Love Yourself

At the end of the day your confidence levels are determined by how you view yourself. So, ‘Love yourself’ is perhaps the most important and powerful technique for building your confidence levels. Make a list of all that’s good about you and go through it whenever you feel low and depressed. Most importantly, cut down on the negative self-talk. Instead, talk positively to yourself, just like you would to your best friend, partner or spouse, when he/she is feeling particularly down and out.

Self-confidence is a state of mind. So, all that you need to do to banish those clouds of self-doubt is to make a conscious effort to see yourself in better and more flattering light.

Top 4 Tips to Convince and Influence People

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Success in any business depends a lot on your interpersonal interaction with people in your organization as well as your clients. Therefore, knowing how to influence and convince people is a skill you must learn. After all, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could get people to do exactly what you want?

 

Here are the top 4 tips on how to effectively convince and influence others:

1. Make them think it’s their idea- If someone tells you to do something, you wonder why? But if the idea is your own or at least seems like your own, you won’t question the intention, right? So, if you want to influence someone, let them take the credit for the idea. Put your point across in a way that it seems as if outcome doesn’t affect you much, but the outcome that you want is in the other person’s interest.

 

2. Aggression is good, but use it with care- Women in the professional world often find themselves stuck in the dilemma -to be aggressive or not! While it’s important not to come across as docile, aggression too can backfire, if not used sparingly and at the right time. You will find this to be particularly true when you have to confront someone. People tend to attack when they are threatened, more so when they are guilty. So, if you talk to them in a firm but polite manner, while sending across the message that you are willing to listen to their side, you are likely to influence them to not only share more information but also act in a more cooperative manner.

 

3. Bait and Wait- Patience is the key to developing excellent persuasive skills. So, if you want to influence someone to act in a certain way, make them come to you or wait for the right time to ask. How? The answer is- keep your eyes and ears open, you may find an opportunity to do them a favor or figure out if you can offer them something they really want. The fact is that once someone has taken a favor from you, they’ll find it hard to refuse your ‘request’.

 

4. Show them you like them- Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Letting people know you appreciate them without it seeming like brown-nosing (if you are talking to someone who exerts more power or influence than you), initiating discussions on topics of their interests or encouraging them to talk about themselves, are all excellent ways of building a good rapport. Once you make someone feel liked and appreciated, in all probability they will return the feeling too, unless you come across as creepy or someone with a specific agenda!

 

All these tips sound great, but how about practical application? Honestly, as long as you keep in mind that- People take what they believe is the best course of action in a given situation based on their self interests, you won’t have a problem using these suggestions in the real world.

Get Over Your Shyness – Tips for Professional Women

shyness

Shyness is not necessarily a bad quality, but in the professional world, it can hamper your career prospects. For one, it can make you come across as aloof or arrogant, at other times your shyness may stop you from building rapport with people you want to network with.

Ways to get over your shyness?

Go prepared with conversation topics- You may think something is funny and interesting, but just when you are about to add your two bits to the conversation, something stops you-that’s shyness. Even before you speak you start wondering how others may react, that’s the problem!  A good way to overcome this is to go prepared with conversation topics. Do your homework on the people you are going to meet, so that you know what subjects interest them the most.  Before cracking a joke, note your own reaction to it. Are you planning to say something funny just because everyone else is? Or does the joke really make you laugh?

It may sound like a lot of work to do, but with time and practice, you will notice that conversation topics will start coming to you naturally.

Make efforts – This may sound difficult, but the fact is that if you want to get over your shyness you have to make conscious efforts to become more social. So, make eye contact when you talk to people, smile more, dress up well, even if you can’t contribute to a conversation, be a good listener and act interested in what the other person is saying.

Let yourself laugh- Laughter is truly liberating! A full bodied laugh is free of all inhibitions. So, don’t stop yourself from enjoying a good joke, because of your shyness.

Try this little exercise- watch a funny movie or a video while you are alone, notice how you feel after allowing yourself a few loud Ha! Ha’s! Great, right? Let yourself do that in social situations too, even if you think your laugh is funny! After all, what’s the worse that can happen? You’ll only inspire more laughs! The thing to remember is that when you are comfortable with your own flaws, people tend to laugh with you and not at you!

Be true to yourself- This is perhaps the most important tip of all! Getting over your shyness does not mean pretending to be someone you are not. Instead, all it means is that you should stop hiding your true self.  You don’t have to talk incessantly, but only speak up when you want to. You don’t need to giggle like a school girl, but let yourself laugh when you find something funny!

How you behave in social situations will affect your career prospects strongly. So, its important to get over your shyness and let people know how wonderful and talented you really are.

How to Set Yourself Up for Success – Top 4 Planning and Goal Setting Tips

how-to-be-successful

Having a good plan is half the battle won! Of course life doesn’t always go according to our plans, but having one does make it easier for us to stay focused and court success.

Planning and Goal Setting tips

1.     Your goals must be motivating

Enthusiasm is not a problem when we start something new, however, retaining that initial enthusiasm can prove to be difficult, unless your goals are motivating enough. Therefore,  before you set your professional goals, you must first ask yourself, what are the things you are most passionate about? Creating wealth? Building a name for yourself? Giving wings to your creativity? Finding your identity? Whatever, it may be, your answer will give you a gauging scale for your goals. If you goals are related to your passions, you won’t find it too hard to stay motivated.

2.      The Must be realistic

You can set high and mighty goals for yourself, but unless they are achievable, there will be no better than fantasies and dreams that have no connection with reality. Of course this doesn’t mean that you should set goals that are too easy to achieve, as they will kill the very purpose of goal setting and planning.  So, when you set your goals you must take into account the challenges you may face, the resources you have at your disposal, your finances, current skill set and family situation.

3.       They should be in tune with your long term vision

Where do you see yourself professionally 10 years from now? Are your goals in sync with your vision? For example, let’s say you want to expand your business and open more stores? Then you need to ask yourself, are your goals leading you where you want to go? Are you planning right?

4.        You must prioritize your goals

The most important thing to remember when it comes to prioritizing your goals is not to think in terms of their importance but their relevance according to your current circumstances. So, what you need to ask yourself is, what do I need to focus on right now? For example, let’s say your goal list includes, investing 20% of your earnings, saving up enough to take two vacations a year, buying your own house, etc. Now, in terms of importance, buying your own house may be on top of your list, but as far as relevance goes, investing 20% of your earnings is what should be your priority.

The manner in which you approach your professional life largely determines how successful you can be. Planning and setting your goals carefully is thus vitally important if you want to set yourself up for success.

How to Succeed Without Selling Your Soul to the Devil

Power Career Success signs

During the course of our careers most of us find ourselves in situations where we are tempted to sell our souls to the devil for temporary gains. There are times when it seems easier to pretend to be someone we are not so that we please the right people. The desire to take short-cuts to success even if it means trampling on others can be very tempting, when the reward is something we have been eyeing for years.

The problem is while losing ourselves in order to achieve success may seem like the easier way out, in the long run, it always backfires, especially in HR. Credibility and integrity are the two most important traits that HR professionals must possess in order to survive and grow in their careers. While putting on an act or behaving like a people-pleaser may work for some time, eventually people tend to see through the charade and the end result is loss of face and a damaged reputation.

So, how do you stay real in the dog-eat-dog corporate world? How do you maintain your integrity despite the enticing pull of temptation?

 

I would recommend the following time tested strategies-

Set your limits. Make a list of things that you never want to do. The list should include the boundaries that you never want to cross. For instance, you could write stuff like, “I will never set up a colleague for termination” or “I will never spread malicious gossip about someone”, etc. Display this list in a place where you can see it everyday, so that you are reminded of your ethics daily.

 

Stay neutral. This may sound like a difficult thing to do in an office environment, but staying neutral is essential not only for the sake of your sanity, but also for your survival. You might have to implement several policy decisions that you may or may not agree with. Life will get extremely difficult for you if you start getting emotionally involved with these decisions and you may even find yourself questioning your true identity. The best way to deal with these situations therefore is to keep your emotions separate from your job.

 

Be yourself and let your real personality shine through. Being a people-pleaser or a yes-person may help you temporarily, but life will get difficult for you once people start seeing through your act. It therefore makes more sense to follow a policy of “straightforward diplomacy”. I agree the very term sounds like an oxymoron, but what it essentially means is that you should state your points tactfully. Share your opinions without sounding rude, stay up on industry trends and discuss those with your boss instead of using techniques like flattery.

 

Honesty and integrity may seem like bookish and idealistic terms in today’s corporate scenario, but the fact is that they do actually work in the long run. More than anything else you can’t hope to have any peace of mind unless you stay true to yourself.

How to Impress Your Boss Without Brown Nosing

impress-boss
Like it or not, to grow in your professional life you need to keep your boss happy! No, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stoop to brown-nosing.

You can impress you boss and still keep your dignity intact with following time tested strategies:
Let your boss know how hard you are working
You do not really want to remain an invisible cog in the wheel, do you? All of us desire credit and appreciation for our work. Unfortunately, in the dog-eat-dog corporate world, you will probably not get your due, unless you are aggressive about taking credit when you deserve it. When you have worked hard at something or have accomplished something exceptionally well, you must make sure that your boss gets to know about it.

You do not need to act pompous or boastful, there are in fact several subtle ways to take credit for your work. You can send a thank you mail to everyone in your team and CC it to your boss praising everyone for a job well done. Discussing what you learned from a project you completed successfully in your feedback/review meetings and thanking your boss for the opportunity is another smart way of letting your boss know just how hard you have been working.

Get to know the business
You should know the USP of the product/service you sell, the market dynamics you operate in, the sales and marketing strategies of your company, etc. From a pure HR perspective you may feel that knowing all these details is not important, but the fact is that if you really want to grow in the company you are working in, it is important for you to understand what it does. Not only will this help you build greater credibility with the employees but you will also be able to speak in the language of the upper management when you participate in meetings.

Be honest but don’t forget tact
As tempting as being a ‘yes-person’ sounds it never works in the long run. The most valued people in an organization are those who have out of the box ideas and do not hesitate to put them forward. Your boss will also appreciate you more if you can add to his ideas or suggest new ones that may help your department perform better. Of course this doesn’t mean that you should be blunt or rude when you put your opinion forward. Every one has an ego; you must respect that fact and state your points in such a way that it doesn’t offend anyone.

Get to know your boss
This really is an extension of the previous point. You will know how to push your case successfully if you are aware of the personality traits and flaws of the other person you are talking to (in this case your boss). For instance, if you boss is a very traditional man who likes doing things the way they have always been done, he/she may not like ideas that are too experimental, therefore in order to convince him that you have a great idea, you need to present it in a way that it sounds like a minor deviation from a tried-tested path.

Stay on top of industry and business trends
This will give you lots of fodder to hold intelligent discussions with your boss, without you having to resort to brown-nosing or flattery. You can send interesting articles about developments in your industry to send across the message that you are dedicated and loyal to your organization. Keeping a track of stories concerning human resources in general is also good idea.

Going that extra mile to make your boss happy can do wonders for your career growth and if you can do it with your dignity intact you will get peace of mind as a bonus!

Top 4 Tips to Inspire Loyalty and Trust Among Your Team Members

team building

In today’s intensively competitive world,  loyalty and trust are very precious assets. If you can manage to build both, you will have wealth that no one can steal from you!  The ability to inspire loyalty and trust will not only help make your team more efficient but will also make you a formidable competitor.

The question now is- how do you do it?

Tip 1- Lead as you Preach
Respect, it is said, is not demanded but commanded.  In order to inspire loyalty, you must first gain the respect of your team members. Therefore, it is extremely important that you lead them by example. So, if you want them to report to work on time, make sure you are there first. If you want your team members to talk and resolve internal conflicts, make sure you are never heard screaming at someone whether in person or on the phone.

Tip2- Know your job
You know your job and believe in yourself, but are your team members equally convinced of your capabilities? There may be some people in your team who have a gender prejudice (especially if you work in a male dominated profession), while others may be simply distrustful, more so if you have been newly appointed to the position.  So, make sure you use opportunities to show your capabilities. This doesn’t mean that you have to boast or talk incessantly about your achievements. Instead, in order to gain their loyalty and trust, step in whenever there is a crisis, don’t act as if certain jobs are beneath you and give new members the benefit of your experience, by guiding them when they feel stuck.

Tip 3- Make your team members feel important
You know you are the more powerful person in the relationship. However, in order to inspire loyalty among your team members, it is important to make them feel like they hold some importance in the relationship as well.  So, make sure you give them credit when its due, encourage them to share their ideas and try not to shoot down the ones you don’t like rudely. Give them opportunities to grow and take a genuine interest in their careers.

Tip 4- Keep your word
No matter what your position is, you won’t be able to get people to trust you, if you have a habit of lying or backtracking. So, make promises carefully and more importantly honor them.

Loyalty and trust are not built in a day.  Patience and persistence are the most important building blocks.

How to Win Power Games and Influence People – Top 3 Tips for Profesional Women

office-power-games

Everyone wants power! However, the question to ask yourself is- what exactly is real power? Is it getting what you want or does it lie in exerting such an influence that people follow you on their own free will? Doesn’t the latter situation sound like a better place to be in? So, in effect, power really is about influencing people and winning them over.

Power games are played everyday in every work place. Whether its professional confrontations, board meetings, brain storming sessions or even unofficial team meetings. At the end of the day, it’s all about gaining more power and influence.

How to play and win the power games?

 

Women in Leadership
‘Objective’ discussions- The key to grabbing power is that it should seem as if you weren’t seeking it in the first place, especially during confrontations. Let’s take this situation for example- You and a manager at your level do not see eye to eye on a certain policy issue. Now, one way to confront this situation is to go out guns blazing and convince everyone who matters, that your views make more sense.  Chances are that the other person will attack you too and it will lead to an intensely fought battle.

The second option is to approach the other person and insist that you discuss your differences of opinion. The ‘pro and con’ list will prove to be an effective tool in this case. The idea is to discuss your views and list most of what you say under ‘pros’ and majority of what the other person says under cons. Make a few lame arguments yourself to give them a chance to place your views on the con side too. Your agenda should be to make the discussion seem open minded and balanced while you subtly push your points forward. This technique (to influence your competitor) will work depending on how well you can act and how persuasive you are.

Always start with “Yes and”- When you shoot down other people’s ideas brusquely you may come across as opinionated or obnoxious. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to agree with your colleagues on everything. You can, in fact, start with agreeing and appreciating what they have said and then put across your points to suggest why it isn’t yet time for their great idea. This is the art of subtly exerting your power and influence.

Form friendships with care- Friendships at the work place can be rather tricky. Remember as you rise to power you are likely to ruffle quite a few feathers.  This is where your work friends come into play.  Associating with the wrong people (i.e. those who are known to gossip, have a track record of malicious behavior and/or are known for their loose tongues) may backfire on you.  Ideally, you should keep your cards close and stay far away from office politics.

Agreed playing and winning power games does involve some degree of stealth and manipulation. But if at the end of the day your conscience is clear, you have nothing to worry about.

Top 3 Confidence Issues Women Managers Must Address

Confident Woman

Self-confidence is a much desired quality. Unfortunately, there are issues that can severely dent a professional woman’s self confidence.

The following are among the most common ones:

Intimidation and low confidence in male dominated professions

Overcoming gender biases and stereotypes is almost like a ‘part of the job’ for women in male dominated professions.  The most common ones are either associated with gender roles that we have been conditioned to see as sacrosanct or with the capabilities and skills that have traditionally been associated with one’s gender.

Let’s take IT for example, women techies often have to work extra hard to prove that they are as capable, if nor more than their male colleagues. Why? One, because conventional stereotypes say that women are not as good at understanding technology as men are and two, because it’s a male dominated field. So it is assumed that women will be in support roles.

The best way to deal with such stereotypes is to project a firm and no-nonsense persona. Most of all it is important to develop a thick skin and not let people’s prejudices affect their own self-belief and confidence.

Soft power vs. Aggression

Soft power is another stereotype associated with women. While there is no harm in exerting soft power, often it is even essential. However, it is also important for women managers to ensure that their clients and team members know that they are capable of and know how to get aggressive when the situation demands.

Sometimes women get drawn into the stereotypical roles that society projects and end up either suppressing or losing their real selves. This again can be severely detrimental to their self-confidence.

confidence

Taking time for personal development

We can’t be super women, yet we are expected to be. A woman is expected to excel in her career without really compromising on her duties as a mother and at the same time be a good supportive spouse too. So, invariably a majority of women end up compromising on their personal time and growth. What a lot of professional women don’t realize is that their personal growth is essential not only for success in their careers but also for their overall happiness, well being and confidence.

A little exercise will perhaps explain this point better. Think back to a time when you did something that helped you grow as a person, whether its social work, learning something new, reading or simply spending time with yourself. How did you feel? Happy? More confident? More at peace with yourself, right?

At the end of the day self-confidence is about how you see yourself.  So, as long as you are happy with who you are, you won’t find it hard to step out of the house everyday feeling confident and ready to face whatever challenges life might throw your way!