Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Night of Tips, Treats, and Revelations

On Tuesday night Carleton's Porter Hall was transformed into an elegant meeting space for young minds to mingle and learn how to thrive outside of the classroom at the WISE Steps to Success event. The white tables slowly gathered the often shy audience, providing treats for snacking and food for thought.

Many excellent points where brought up by the experienced mentors and guests who generously volunteered their time for the event. We were once again reminded of the importance of self-presentation to make that crucial first impression. Teresa and Terry Lee McCarthy of the Image Solutions Group shared their expertise on dressing and grooming for a business meeting. For a credible, formal business look wear a blue suit with the hair pulled back and just enough make-up to accentuate your best features. Invest in a good briefcase and a comfortable pair of closed-toe pumps. And, of course, don't forget to smile.

As important as your image is for leaving positive impressions and making connections, you can't go far without hard work as Dieter Hollweck was quick to emphasize. To advance in your career you have to be good at what you do and that takes work. Of this the Ambassador of Croatia, Vesela Mrdjen Korac, one of Dieter's guests, was an excellent example. She arguably stole the show and impressed many a young lady in the audience with her incredible career achievement and eloquent speech.

Pierre Lemasson addressed a rather important but sticky issue of salary negotiations. You might not know it, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with negotiating you salary once you get that coveted job offer. The trick, however, is not to think of it as a competition with the employer, but rather as a respectful discussion and to be aware of your fair worth.

The most important revelation of the evening for me, however, was a subtle yet extremely important point that Dieter brought up about networking. It's not a secret that you have to prepare for meetings and interviews. But more important, perhaps, then doing your background research is figuring out what your goals, values and aspirations are! Before you can effectively present yourself to others you need to know yourself and what you want!

It was delightful to see that by the end of the evening so many people were mingling among themselves and the mentors taking the opportunity to apply what they have learned about networking in a comfortable relaxed atmosphere created at the event. I hope that Steps to Success will become a yearly tradition of WISE and many more people will get the opportunity to benefit from the experience of the excellent speakers and mentors that WISE brought together.