As part of the meetings track at the New York Times Travel Show, those who braved the blizzard to attend learned of several ways they could become indispensable to their companies. Michele C. Wierzgac, MS, CMM, an industry speaker, facilitator, trainer and consultant from Michele and Co. conducted the session. Here are five takeaways:
1) See Their Point of View: Enhance your role as a team player by demonstrating a sincere interest in your company and looking at issues from the employer’s viewpoint.”If it’s the cost of labor that’s forcing companies to cut back the cost of meetings or travel, get together with the planner and figure out ways to merge systems, cut costs, negotiate spending and merge tasks between departments,” Wierzgac said. She suggested that often in companies where there are several departments arranging meetings, redundancies can be eliminated. Strategic meeting management courses, like those offered by Meeting Professionals International and the National Business Travel Association, can also help, she said.
2) Talk in Sound Bites: Concentrate on improving communication with your employer, and think about how your listener will receive the message. “Put yourself in the listener’s shoes and think about how they might react. Learn to talk in sound bites — quick, fast and dirty — executives want the summary, not all the details,” she said.
3) Find a Mentor: To be the most indispensible employee you can be, get coaching — surround yourself mentors and coaches from inside and outside the industry. How do you get a coach? “Look around your informal and formal networks and figure out who you’d like to emulate, whose skills and career path do you admire? Then just ask if they will mentor you. Most of the time, people are flattered that they have been asked to be your mentor. It doesn’t take much time… perhaps just a 45-minute phone call every three months. You tell them what’s going on and they give you simple advice to get back on track,” advised Wierzgac.
4) Recruit a Cheering Squad: Wierzgac says it’s important to leverage the power of your networks. The first step is to understand the difference between formal networks (professional organizations that you pay dues to, with regulations, meetings and guidelines) and informal networks (people you meet in the lobby of a hotel or on an airplane or through hobbies). Social networks are a hybrid of the two. “Use them to talk about situations at work, showcase your talents and achievements. Send out regular alerts through your grapevine and share your success stories. Start a buzz and you’ll be surprised at the information you’ll receive in return,” she said.
5) Safeguard Your Reputation: “Protect your name and see what others are saying about you. The key to leadership is listening to criticism and self-correcting. When a mentor gives you criticism about something you’re perhaps not thinking about, it takes courage to change,” she said.
Wierzgac said that you must earn credibility, not expect it and be prepared to spend years to achieve that goal. “It’s taken me years to build my name, my reputation, my network. Being approachable is important, and helping others along the way as I help myself,” she said.