Kimberly C. Kisner

The Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Conference Calls Professional and Effective

1. Plan the Call

The most effective way to run a great conference call is to be prepared.  At a minimum, you should have the names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and job titles of the people who will be on the call. This way if anything goes wrong, you can reestablish communications quickly.

2. Plan Your Location

Background noise is a conference call killer.  Don’t try having a conference call from a shared cubicle area.  If you don’t have a private office, try reserving a conference room.  If none are available, ask someone who does have an office if you can borrow it.  If all else fails, sneak into an empty office at your organization.

3. Send E-mail Alerts

E-mail alerts are great way of making sure that no one forgets the call, or is missing the call in information.  Send an email out the day before the call, to everyone involved, stating the time of the call, the participants, the subject matter, the length and most importantly, don’t forget to include the call in phone number and password.  Send this email again 1 hour before the call.

4. Start Early

Don’t wait till a minute before the call to dial in.  Log into the call 10-15 minutes early so you have time to fix any problems like bad passwords, wrong numbers, bad sound, or any other problems that might arise.

5. Bring the Right People

Think about what the call is for, and make sure the right people are invited.  If the subject matter is likely to cross into one of your cooworkers responsibilities, ask them to sit in on the call.  Its better to include people than not include them, since they can always leave or decline if they aren’t needed.

7. Start the Call Professionally

Mute the phone.  When waiting on participants to enter the conference call, leave your phone on mute, so the other callers don’t hear any confidential information that you may discuss while waiting for their arrival.  When everyone has arrived, introduce everyone, with their full name and title, and why they are on the call.  Thank everyone for coming, let them know the agenda and length of the call, and begin.

8. Leave Time for Questions

If you expect the call to last 30 minutes, schedule it for 60 minutes.  At best you’ve wisely left time for the call to run long, or to include a question and answer session.  At worst you let everyone out early, so its a win-win for everyone.

9. Send a Follow-up E-mail

Send an e-mail to the people on the call, summarizing what was discussed, and about any action items.  This way you can be sure that everyone on the call understands what they are expected to do next.  If there is a followup call, this is when you should tell everyone when it is.

10. Buy a Headset

Headsets with a microphone and earpiece are easy to find, but they won’t connect to your workplace phone if you have the standard Cisco VOIP phones, like most companies do.  You need to order a special headset from a maker like Plantronics.  Make sure you get both pieces, the dialer and the headset itself.  It can be expensive, anywhere from $200 to $400, but if you are a salesperson who lives and dies on the phone, this may be a great investment for you.  Your contacts will hear you much clearer, and you will hear them much better too.

Conference calls are a great way to stay connected and to convey information efficiently.  Just try to make sure you stay on track so that they remain sessions that people look forward to in order to touch base, rather than time wasters that everyone dreads.

Courtesy of Doostang

Networking… it just an excuse to socialize?

When you hear the word “networking” what automatically comes to mind? A room full of progressive, professional individuals all suited in booted in their corporate best – maybe sipping on glasses of chardonnay and nibbling on various imported cheese and crackers. And perhaps everyone is engaging in surface-like conversation while exchanging business cards with one another in hopes of building some sort of instant connection that will maybe lead to a new job, a business venture, friendship and maybe even a romantic relationship. Well, that is a small portion of what networking is all about. In chapter 6 of my book I define networking as the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.


Now, many folks have a misconception about networking because they feel that networking doesn’t really work so they really think it’s a waste of time. Well, the reason why it’s a waste of time is because after you have exchanged the business cards and engaged in conversation-what do you do next? Most people take those business cards and conversations and throw them into the trash. However, what is supposed to happen after the networking is FOLLOW THROUGH. That’s right I said it FOLLOW THROUGH!!! What do I mean? For example, a few years back I was at a birthday party for a friend and met this guy at her party who worked for the University of Phoenix. At the time I was unemployed and in desperate need of a job. He gave me his business card and told me to e-mail him my resume. Wait for it!!! I followed through on what he asked me to do. I didn’t wait even 24-hours before I sent him a nice e-mail with my resume attached. About 2 weeks later I got a job. It was all about the follow through.


Another part of networking is being involved in the right organizations like fraternities, sororities, alumni chapters, business organizations etc…Some people feel that being in some of these organizations is a waste of time. Well, yes you are right it is a waste of time if you have no strategy behind being a part of these organizations. Currently, I am a member of 3 organizations. Now, I didn’t join these organizations just for the fun of it. I joined them because I have a goal in mind. I am trying to build my brand and I know that through these various organizations I will be able to do that. Additionally, these organizations provide me with a platform to help others in various capacities. It also gives me the opportunity to meet some key stakeholders who are decision makers or who have influence within the community.  Let me give you an example, as you all know I am unemployed at the moment.  I was recently, at a very productive meeting with my organization – Atlanta Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce (shameless plug). This meeting consisted of some heavy hitters within our community. During the meeting, I was able to talk about myself and my book. After the meeting, various individuals came up to me asking for my business card and inviting me to come and speak at their places of employment. Additionally, I was asked if I was in the market for a job? And if I was, they wanted me to forward my resume on to them. Once again…wait for it…..I what? FOLLOWED THROUGH. I didn’t event wait 24-hours before I sent my e-mails to my new contacts and forwarded them my resume. I’m telling you networking or for a better phrase building strategic relationships does work – but you have to follow through. And my suggestion is that while the conversation and contact is fresh in your mind that you follow up with your contact within 24-48 hours. I am a testament that following up with your new contacts does work. You have to be open to the possibilities of  what may come out of these new contacts because you never know it could be a new job, a new partnership and maybe a new relationship!


7 Ways to Increase Your Office Popularity and Status

Being popular at your workplace can be just as important as being effective at your job. We all like to work with people we like, and we don’t like to work with people we hate. Often times how good that person is at their job is not as important, especially in larger organizations. So how can you improve your workplace popularity and status? Try these tips and tricks:

1. Give Credit Generously

This one is easy. Openly praising your coworkers efforts will win you friends. Everyone likes to hear that they’re doing a good job, so be generous with your comments and praise of others work when its done well. Don’t just say “You did a great job”. Think about something specific that they contributed, and cite how it was important for a positive outcome. Its important to give praise as publicly as possible, with the best place being when that person’s boss is in the room. It doesn’t just reflect well on them, it reflects well on you. Managers love to see employees who recognize the contribution of others and not just themselves.

2. Keep Blame for Yourself

This one can be hard. Its easy to see fault in others and not ourselves. Nothing will lose you work friends faster than blaming them for problems or failures on projects where you’ve worked together. Just like public praise will win you friends, so will public sacrifice. Taking more of the blame for a failed project or outcome yourself, and defending someone who’s less secure in their job, will win you a work friend for life. It will also win you the respect of upper management, and show you to be a leader.

4. Take an Interest in Others

Sure, you may have the coolest narratives, the best story-telling style, or the greatest opinions on life.  But truly, sometimes you just need to learn to ZIP it.  Others love when you listen to what they have to say, and take a genuine interest in getting to know them better.  Try it sometime – ask someone a question about him or herself or something they’re passionate about, and see how they light up.  While, in reality, you’re really getting to know this other individual better, they’ll instantly feel a closer connection to you.  This is important in an office setting because when people like you and feel like they can relate to you, they’ll work much more productively with you, and will trust you more.

5. Confidence is Key

As with most situations in life, charisma in the office will take you far.  People are drawn to confident individuals, and will be more open to working with them and exchanging ideas.  You may be the smartest person in the world, but if you are awkward or nervous, people will have a more difficult time approaching you because those feelings will rub off on them.  Confidence will reassure your peers and make them believe that you are the type of person who will get the job done.

6. Organize Events

Another great way to endear yourself to others is by taking initiative to organize social events.  Everyone loves a Thursday evening Happy Hour or end-of-the-month potluck.  If you put yourself in the center of activities that people enjoy, they will appreciate you more and associate you with the pleasure they derive from work.  You’ll also have a great opportunity to showcase your leadership qualities, which will always serve you well back in the office.

7. Lend a Helping Hand

When others are struggling to accomplish a task or wrap their head around a complex topic, don’t hesitate to offer your assistance.  Doing so is another way to elicit another person’s trust, and really, in helping another person out, you’re helping everyone out.  Moreover, you’ll have someone who will be willing to aid you on difficult projects, or who will be eager to vouch for you in the future.

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