DeVaughn Narratives

Creating digital stories that resonate and inspire

Month: February 2016

The Importance of Professional Networking

Importance of Professional NetworkingThe Importance of Professional Networking

You open your inbox and there is an invitation to attend an event or alternatively, you receive a formal invitation in the mail. So you gingerly place the invitation on the side or in a pending file, or you may even throw it away without a second glance. If it’s an Evite, you may respond and say you cannot attend. But you’ll never know what opportunities may have awaited you.

My professors and bosses have always stressed the importance of networking, and I couldn’t agree with them more. The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” holds a lot of truth.

Here are some reasons why professional networking is important:

Developing Relationships is Critical to Success
Developing and cultivating relationships is critical to success. People do business with those they know, like, and trust. It takes time, energy, and effort to build a network. Through building that network you develop and cultivate relationships with people who know you, trust you, and will do business with you.

Increases Your Chance of Getting a Job
In today’s current economic climate, the job market is very challenging and competitive with going up against potentially hundreds of other candidates for a single position. Constant rejections and lengthy interviews can sometimes mean that your face becomes just another in the pile. Just as networking with specific businesses can help you find your next job, so too can networking with industry recruiters. Often employers and industry recruiters have the inside scoop on possible new job openings before they are advertised. Employers prefer to hire based on referrals or recommendations which people in your network can provide. Managers and recruiters looking to fill a position will first search their own networks for candidates before the job goes public. Gaining access to these key players and hiring managers is tied directly to your network.

Increases Confidence Levels
Networking increases confidence levels because it will help you to push yourself to talk to people you don’t know. We cannot build strategic partnerships or social relationships unless we communicate. No matter what walk of life we pursue, we need to be able to break the ice, approach strangers and start, build, and maintain conversations. The more you do this, the easier it will become.

Allows for Visibility and Presence
Networking allows you to be visible and present. Instead of hiding in your cubicle or office, networking ensures that you are visible so the people in your organization know who you are. In each of my positions, I actively networked at all levels in the organization in order to develop positive relationships and create value for others in the company by being knowledgeable, reliable and a supportive person. Being visible and getting noticed is a big benefit of networking.

Who Should Be In Your Network?

Build Your Network

Your network can be made up of almost anyone you’ve ever met and each of your contacts can lead you to new ones such as:

  • Current and Former Co-Workers: Those you currently work with as well as those you’ve worked with in the past can be part of your network.
  • Your Co-Members in Professional Associations: When you become an active member in a professional association, you will increase your chances of meeting people. It will also give your colleagues a chance to see you in action.
  • Friends and Family: Keep your family and friends apprised of your career goals. You never know who will end up having the ability to help you.
  • Former Professors and Instructors: Your former professors and instructors most likely worked in your field or at least have some connections.
  • Former Classmates: The alumni directory of your college can provide you with contacts to add to your network.

In conclusion, when your invitation arrives, gladly accept the invitation, and attend the event. These events give us a chance to meet new people and cultivate lasting relationships. With practice, you will be able to mingle while increasing your confidence level.

The Subjectivity of Performance Appraisals

The Subjectivity of Performance Appraisals

In a perfect world employee evaluations can be an excellent tool for both managers and employees to maximize productivity to achieve personal objectives and organizational goals. But the workplace is not a perfect world, and in reality some surveys of managers indicate that they hate conducting performance appraisals, second only to firing employees. The vast majority of U.S. organizations use some kind of performance appraisal as a means to evaluate their workforce. These appraisals are important since they are often used when it comes to human resource decisions such as salary increases, promotions, career advancement, and training opportunities. While performance appraisals can have a positive influence on the above personnel decisions, other research has found that many U.S. organizations face difficulty when it comes to terminating employees that demonstrate unsatisfactory workplace performance. Why? Managers are reluctant to give truly candid performance appraisals for fear of creating conflict and possible recrimination by the employee against the manager. This subjectivity raises some ethical questions about the performance appraisal process.

Due to their widespread use and substantial influence on the status of an employee, Performance Appraisal Subjectivitymanagers have an ethical obligation to conduct employee appraisals in the most impartial and unbiased way possible. Researchers have recently distinguished two different types of performance appraisals: one based on the rational and the other based on the political perspective. The rational approach is designed to use objective criteria to assign accurate ratings. The goal of the political approach is subjective in nature and can use ambiguous standards which are designed to increase the degree of latitude provided to a manager when evaluating an employee. Prior studies have found that many managers have manipulated the performance appraisal process for political purposes. To reduce employee discord and workplace dissonance, managers have been found to give higher ratings to employees to keep them content. Higher ratings can also be given to obtain a promotion for preferential employees. Lower ratings can often be given to employees as a signal that they are no longer held in high esteem by the organization and it may be time to seek employment elsewhere. Low ratings can also be given by managers as a form of retaliation. However, lower ratings can be detrimental to employers because it can lead to decreased motivation, increased turnover, and increased risk of litigation.

Manipulating ratings either higher or lower is unethical. Performance ratings should provide an honest appraisal of an employee’s abilities. To intentionally lower a worker’s rating for political purposes is unethical because it deprives deserving employees of rewards and promotional opportunities. An inflated performance rating is unethical because it fails to provide an employee a true assessment of their abilities and where they can improve. Furthermore, it decreases employee morale because it fails to differentiate higher achieving employees from the average.

When a company incorporates a code of ethics into its business practices, it helps assure that business is conducted in a fair and professional manner. A company’s ethical conduct should be an integral part of its corporate landscape. Managers do not always act upon ethical issues. For example, the overall objective of a performance evaluation is to provide an honest assessment of the employee’s performance and to develop an action plan when there is need for improvement.

Communication is an integral part of the performance evaluation process and should be ongoing throughout the entire year. Specific performance feedback should be communicated to subordinates about any unsatisfactory behavior and what alternative methodologies can be incorporated to improve their performance. Continual feedback and communication are important in fostering a harmonious working relationship. Ideally, a manager should not wait until the formal evaluation process to convey performance problems that have occurred during the course of the year.

In my work experience, I have found that performance evaluations are frequently based on the manager’s opinion and are often subjective. The evaluation reflects what the manager can remember which is usually the more recent events when evaluating a subordinate. Thus some managers tend to evaluate employees on what they have recently done rather than looking at the entire year. This, of course, does not accurately reflect an employee’s overall performance because it only reflects the employee’s most recent behavior. Other managers can place unreasonably high demands on subordinates that makes it difficult for them to achieve positive performance evaluations. Less than positive ratings can result in decreased motivation. Often managers may give inflated ratings in order to avoid conflict. In today’s tough economic environment where organizations are giving modest to no salary increases, managers may create a discord in the work environment when giving an unsatisfactory performance evaluation. This internal conflict can be devastating on workplace morale and can last for a long time. To avoid this, many managers try to prevent conflict and opt for a more harmonious workplace by giving inflated evaluations. However, by not providing honest feedback, the purpose of the performance evaluation is ultimately defeated.

Performance evaluations that are not properly conducted can have a negative effect and can be subject to legal action particularly in the areas of discrimination and EEOC compliance. Some organizations use forced rankings. Forced rankings is a process where a company ranks its employees against each other than can terminate those employees at the lowest end of the ranking. Consider the high-profile cases of Capital One, Ford Motor Company, and Goodyear who have been sued for age-related discrimination associated with forced rankings. In another instance, a class action lawsuit was filed against 3M for alleged age discrimination in training, performance reviews, pay, promotions and layoffs. Lawsuits can be costly to a company’s reputation and its bottom line.

No matter how objective performance appraisal rating systems appear to be, they are still substantially influenced by the subjectivity that is part of human nature.

Industry Specific Digital Marketing Acronyms

Industry Specific Digital Marketing Acronyms

We all tend to speak in industry specific jargon as a means of impressing clients or customers. Jargon is a specialized vocabulary that functions as a kind of shorthand by people with common backgrounds and experience. It can be valuable for those who understand it. However, jargon often leads to misunderstanding and confusion because clients or customers may be unfamiliar with the language. As digital marketing continues to advance, I am going to detangle some of the industry specific acronyms and their meanings.

CRM: Every business has a list of existing and potential customers. Customer Relationship Management is an effective strategy that allows your business to manage and track the history of your customers, collaborate effectively, increase productivity, and grow your business. Salesforce and Marketo are just two examples of CRM software application tools for organizations.

CSS: Used in web design, Cascading Style Sheets is a “style sheet language” used to define HTML interface design elements such as typography and page layout (color, font size, line spacing, letter spacing, indents, margins, element positioning, text alignment, borders).

CTA:  A Call to Action is a word or phrase that’s used to prompt the reader to take immediate action. Some examples include “Click Here”, “Subscribe Today”, or “Act Now.”

HTML: HyperText Markup Language is the language used to create webpages that can be viewed on the web.

Digital Marketing Acronyms

PPC: The easiest way to make money from a blog or website is to run pay-per-click ads and banners. Pay-per-click, or PPC, is an internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites where advertisers pay the publisher, which is typically the website owner, each time a user clicks on your ad.

Google’s AdWords is the most popular PPC program. Advertisers bid on keywords, and the highest bidders get top listings, next to the organic (non-paid) search results. They’re charged only when a visitor clicks their ad.

PV: Page Views are the number of total number of different pages on your site that visitors have opened during a specific period.

RSS: Real simple syndication, or RSS, allows users to subscribe to content and read at their own convenience, using an application called a feed reader. Every time new content is developed or updated, the user will get a notification. Feedly, NewzCrawler, and Feed Demon are among the most popular feed readers.

SEO: You’ve spent lots of time building and optimizing your website, but what if you launch your site and nobody visits? And if you do get visitors, how do you know if you’re giving them the information they came for? Search engine optimization, or SEO, are methods used to gain visibility on a search engine’s list of search results with the end goal to gain more relevant site traffic. The most commonly used search engines are Google, Yahoo, and Bing. These methods include optimizing and creating keywords, URL structures, page titles, content, meta titles and descriptions, page load times, inbound links, internal links, and more.

SEM: SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. SEO and SEM are not interchangeable terms but, when practiced together, they can help can boost your website’s rankings on search engines. SEO is the practice of boosting your rankings through organic methods such as publishing effective content and using good keywords, links, and easy navigation for users. SEM typically refers to pay-per-click advertising that would appear on sites like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. It’s the ads that appear on the top and side of those pages and include search engine optimization (SEO) to have their business show up naturally or organically within the results page.

URL: Uniform Resource Locator, or URL, is the web or specific address of information found on the Internet.

The digital marketing industry is rife with acronyms, so this list is not exhaustive and only includes some of the more commonly used terms.


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