Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Art of Persuasion! - Book Review

For my first book review this spring, I have chosen Persuasion by Arlene Dickinson. If you don’t already recognize the name, Arlene is one of the fabulous entrepreneurs (and only lady dragon) on the Dragon’s Den on CBC. Before I go any further, I just want to say I thoroughly enjoy this show, but this book is great for those who watch the show and those who don’t.

Persuasion is a book written from Arlene Dickinson’s personal experiences, not a non-fiction books that refers to social science studies and established facts. It made for an interesting read (along the same lines as Kevin O’Leary’s The Cold Hard Truth). The core idea of the book is principled persuasion, a form of positive, relationship-building persuasion. Her main idea is that to persuade others you need to be honest, authentic and reciprocal. Persuading others, whether it is in a business pitch, a job interview or in a personal situation relies on building a connection that is based on trustworthy truth and mutual understanding of each person’s objectives.

Persuasion; Dragon's Den
Persuasion 2011
First off, this premise is really quite unique. When I carried the book around with me, I got a lot of questions from people like: “Persuasion? Why are you reading a book on how to trick people?” or “Who are you hoping to persuade?” These were questions asked with the idea that I was reading a book on how to con people. But, the book in all honesty teaches nothing of the sort. It is an frank book that shows that business and ethics can and should co-exist – a philosophy I happen to support strongly.

Persuasion was very well organized. Each section covers different aspects of persuasion, with chapters that are straightforward and that flow in a logical sequence. The subsections within each chapter do a great job of telling you just what you are about to learn. This makes this an easy read when the reading sessions are broken up.

Arlene does a great job of providing real life examples to support her claims, although some lacked details. When the personal stories got in-depth, it made the reading more interesting and enjoyable. The other reason I enjoyed her stories is because Arlene is a communicator. As the CEO of Venture Communications in Calgary and Toronto, I couldn't help but be in tune with the advice she provided. Her stories about client projects, agency blunders and marketing successes are very relatable to a PR student or professional.

Here are some parts of the book that really stood out to me:
“Some people think that to be good at persuasion you have to be an expert or have a big personality or be a smooth talker or know all the answers. But just the opposite is true: listening and picking up on subtext are at least as important to building emotional connections as anything you say.”
After reading I have started making a conscious effort to listen more and it truly has been rewarding. You don’t truly know what listening is until you really do it. 

“If I can’t understand what you’re talking about, I can’t trust you. Real expertise involves the ability to take complex subject and distill it to the point where it’s accessible to everyone."
This is exactly why being a communicator is challenging, but rewarding. Our successes in communicating clearly make us influencers. 

“Being yourself doesn’t mean being sweet and nice, by the way. It just means not hiding who you really are.”
This one jumped out at me because it is such a common misperception. People think that people who are honest and straightforward are not as real as those who act nice. Think twice. 

“Virtually all entrepreneurs share one really valuable attribute: they see potential all around them.”
This is why I think most communicators are entrepreneurs. We see potential and we build strategy to make the most of it. 

“To move forward, you need to persuade yourself to act, and to arm yourself against the consequences of your decision by deciding beforehand that it’s all right to change your mind down the road, and also all right to make a mistake.”
This is my new mantra. Persuade yourself to move forward and you can take on the world. 

“Confidence is a quiet self-belief, not a loud cry for attention."
For communicators I think this is important to keep in mind.

“If authenticity is about knowing yourself, honesty is about publicly demonstrating and defending your beliefs and principles."
This last one is important for students and young professionals going out in the workforce. I strongly believe in standing by your own principles even if you don’t feel fully confident. Don’t be someone else, be yourself and make a mark.

Arlene Dickinson; CBC
The dragons from CBC's Dragon's Den
Persuasion is full of a wealth of advice and principles that could easily help someone become better at persuading. Some of what Arlene Dickinson says may seem like common sense, but sometimes hearing words from a respectable and successful person really helps ingrain lesson of common sense in your life.

I can’t say I am an ultimate persuader now, but hopefully I have persuaded you to check out this book. One thing I can say is that this book have me a better understanding of how to build strong relationships. And hey, isn’t that what PR is all about?

Do you think you will read Persuasion? If you have let me know what you think of it!

P.S. I love PR

Friday, 12 April 2013

Step 15 - 6 Tips for Organizational Fit in PR

Are you Fit Enough for Organizational Fit?

What I would like to talk about today is something relevant to any Public Relations grad starting a career. This topic was once thought of as a trend in HR, but it is more important than I think most people give it credit. I rediscovered its importance when looking to start my career. So without further ado let's talk about job fit and organizational fit.

First, you may not know that these 2 things are indeed distinct and separate. Here is what they boil down to. JOB FIT is when you demonstrate the skills, knowledge, experience and abilities to excel in a specific job. For instance, in PR some people are more suited as an account director while others are more suited to an account executive. The differences in these jobs are what make them unique and what makes fit important. ORGANIZATIONAL FIT is when your values, attitudes and expectations align with those of the organization you work for. As an example, if you love the environment it might irk you to work somewhere where they cause needless waste and don't bother to recycle. Working somewhere that allows you to live by your values is the most rewarding.

Quote about Dreams
So how do you know if you have these two things - especially before starting the job? The fact is your socialization process with the job and organization begins from the very first contact. Think of brands. Every contact point with a brand helps you develop an opinion on a company. This is relevant in job searching. This is why so many people will tell you to apply to a company - rather than apply for a job.

Knowing the job fit is pretty straightforward. Do you have the technical skills? The soft skills? The experiences? You will need to look at the key responsibilities and list of duties to truly understand what you will be doing in the job, while you will need to look at the qualifications to know if you've got what it takes. Remember all qualifications should serve a purpose - they are there for a reason, which is setting you up for success in the job. Organizational fit is far more abstract, but here are some tips from my own experiences.

6 Tips for Organizational Fit

1. Company Correspondence: Right from the get-go do you like the way the company corresponds with you? Are their emails friendly, informative, long, short, rude? This will tell you something about the personality of the employees of the organization - which all leads back to corporate culture.

2. Job Interviews - Small Things: A lot of young people forget that job interviews are two-way communication. It isn't about just selling yourself, the company also has to market itself to you. So if at the interview the environment, the people, their speech or their questions put you off, then beware. You might not think that the way the interviewers dress is important either, but it is. It shows you how they express themselves at work, something you would need to do without clashing with those already there.

3. Job Interviews - Big Things: Now on to what you learn about the organization in the job interviews. There is a reason why people recommend that you ask lots of questions at the end of an interview. I did this at my last few interviews and it really helped me gain insider knowledge that let me get a handle on whether this was a place I could fit in.

4. Career Goals: Your personal goals are so important in figuring out if an organization fits your needs. If you goal is to work in healthcare and the organization focuses on finance, then maybe the fit isn't right.

5. Gut Intuition: Information gets to be daunting. You might forget something they said about the company or you might get incomplete information. Nothing is better than your gut. It will tell you what you feel about the company more than anyone could.

6. The Job Offer: I can actually say what it feels like to get a job offer and consider it, because this happened to me a week ago when I secured myself a great new job. You will want to really look at every detail of the offer to determine if it fits. This is a business deal so take time to reflect and talk to people who know you and know your goals. They will help you see things that you couldn't on your own.

Once you have figured out if there is a fit, congratulations you will be a happy employee! A lot of people feel lucky to think about fit, or that it isn't as important as the money. But to be truly satisfied in a job and in a company, a size too big or a size to small just won't work. You want to find a fit that is just right.

What do you think about organizational fit? Is it important to you?

P.S. I love PR!