Archive | June, 2012

Networking: How Building Relationships for the Right Reasons Can Impact Your Life

28 Jun

I have to admit, even the word networking makes me tense up.  Before jumping in a career that required need for networking, I found it easy to talk to anyone and everyone for the sake or building positive and interesting relationships.  I navigated life with the idea that each person can offer me something from which I can learn, so I never wanted to miss an opportunity.  I most certainly was never thinking while talking to people, “how can they help me”.  In moving into the industry I’m in currently, I’ve heard people say you need to network for a purpose.  Better yet, I’ve seen people outwardly force themselves in front of others in a disingenuous way.  “I’ll never be that girl”, I thought to myself.  I worried that might hinder my ability to succeed.

In the beginning of my dabbling in the modeling, writing and styling industry I certainly witnessed many attempts at disingenuous networking.  I have the good fortune of working in-front of the camera at times, but unlike many talents I spend a great deal of time behind the camera as well.  You can only imagine some of the things I’ve heard and seen.  One of my first experiences in this industry landed me at a conference where the need to network weighed heavily on me.  Being the “look at me girl” was a huge challenge for me.  I questioned my ability to pursue a career and really was at a loss for the first time.

I’ve since developed some strong philosophies on networking that I am sticking with.  For better or worse, they suit me.  I honestly believe that you should never miss an opportunity to connect.  I think people can teach you something.  In some way every person can help you.  Better yet, you can help them…and that’s point # 1.

Ways to network effectively and still feel good about yourself:

1) Help other people.  Let’s face it, this feels good.  You have skills and abilities.  How can you use them to help others?  Earning trust doesn’t operate by mutual exchange of favors or opportunities.  It happens by truly seeing what good you can do and offering it.  Furthermore, it shouldn’t be limited to “certain” people.  While you can’t help everyone, you can impact everyone.  Find ways to help others succeed.  People appreciate this.  The work karma exists for a reason.

2) Build relationships before you need them.  A lot of people decide to start building relationships when they are trying to achieve a goal or when they are in need.  Wrong!  Build the foundation now.  You can spend years getting to know people.  They might offer you inspiration, you might meet friends, you can learn from other’s work.  Don’t ask for anything, just build for the sake of having meaningful relationships.  If you do this, and at some point you need something, people will know you.  They will understand what you are about.  Think about it.  If someone called you for help and you had never met them, are you inclined to do so?  Probably not.  However, if it’s someone who over time has gotten to know you, gone out of their way for you, offered you assistance in various way, then what would you say?  I think you get the point here.

3) Forget about you.  People don’t want to talk to people who talk about themselves all the time.  I know this is a tough one.  It is for me.  Not because I’m self consumed but because I just get going and am long-winded.  My friend likes to say he know’s how to “handle” my energy.  I do try to remember though that I really want to know others because that’s where I experience growth.  I listen without forming an immediate response or opinion.  I ask questions and I make space for learning.  I also like reading things others do, be it blogs, their writing, their posts on facebook.  Whatever it is.  I sometimes attend events others host or are involved in to show my support.  I try to ask questions and listen to the responses.  I also try to follow-up to check on people.  It’s always nice to hear of others successes.

4) People have lives outside of work. They have families, they have passions, they have hobbies and interests.  Finding ways to connect on these levels seem to help build relationships.  People don’t always want to be seen as just one thing.  The same goes for you.  Share something personal about yourself.  People want to works with humans, who have real stories.  Share that side of you and connect with others on that level.

5) Never be the person in the room that doesn’t pay attention.  In my opinion, there is nothing worse than talking to someone who you feel is looking around the room for who they want to meet. Even if it’s just for minute, give someone your full attention.  Don’t think when having conversations how will this help me.  That’s just wrong.  You devalue the person and their worth.  Worse yet, you devalue yourself.  Think about meeting people for the sake of growing and expanding.  You really never know when meeting others the impact they might have on your life.  Be sincere.  Be genuine. Be real.

Networking is a challenge, but try not to look at it as something you need to do.  Just try being you.  Don’t think as much about who you get in front of, who you connect with, who knows you.  Just try your best to build meaningful relationships with people.  Talk to everyone.  Sometimes people get in the mindset of “I need to meet so-and-so” and forget that person’s best friend might be the individual you just spent an hour ignoring.  Not the best move was it?

Best of luck in your career growth, and may you never miss a moment to connect.

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Five Tips To Preparing for Your First Race

21 Jun

So your thinking of doing a race?  Signing up for a race is an excellent way to help you stay motivated to run.  Realistically you could show up at nearly any fitness level and participate, but for most people simply knowing that you are going to be surrounded by others working to achieve their best will help you gain some motivation to work hard.

If you are new to racing, here are some basic tips that will help you ensure a successful and fun experience.

1) Search www.active.com for a listing of races in your area.  If you have never raced it’s nice to start with a local race.  Your body has likely acclimated to that climate and you will have a better chance of performing well.  If you have never ran at high altitudes, try it out before you place yourself in an environment where you are trying to perform.  There are races happening all the time everywhere so find one near you and enroll.

2)Set a goal.  You are likely to run faster on race day then you typically do.  Your adrenaline will kick in, you’ll be surrounded by motivated people and hopefully you will be rested.  That said, get an idea of your pace based on your practice runs and set a goal completion time.  During the race watch the clock and work to stay on track.

3) Carry water. Many races do not provvide water along the race route.  Make sure you find out ahead of time and carry water with you if needed, particularly if you are running over a 5K.  Ask anyone who has found themselves on a run dehydrated and without water and they will tell you it’s not fun.

4) Find a quality pair of shoes and use them for a while before the race.  Running shoes require you to break them in over time.  Never purchase new shoes right before a race.  I really enjoy shopping at stores specifically suited to runners when purchasing running shoes.  If you are in AZ, one of my favorites is  http://www.runnersdenaz.com/

5) Cold?  Shop your local www.goodwill.com store for some great prices on sports jackets.  You can probably find one so inexpensive that you can take it off part way into the race and leave it.  Many runners do this.  $2 to stay warm before a race is a great investment.  You can also put a hole in the top of a large plastic trash bag and wear it.  This will block the wind as you wait for the race to begin.

Making your first race a great experience is important to keeping your momentum.  Within a week of completing the race sign up for another one, in order to keep you on track.  Don’t be afraid to ask people for tips prior, most runners are happy to share their insights and experiences with new comers.    Good luck, have fun and Run for Life!

A Very Easy Way to Impact the Lives of Others

15 Jun

I’ve noticed that my blog has been less stream of consciousness and more carefully thought out, so one goal I have is to not only include content that has a journalistic style but also has some casual posts that share tips, experiences and thoughts I think are helpful.  Along those lines today I’ll share my day yesterday and how one comment impacted me.

I didn’t actually get out of my pajamas yesterday.  I woke up and before my eyes were even open started working, meanwhile managing children.  A challenge to say the least.  I’ve been traveling the West Coast for the past 8 days working on photo shoots, styling and doing some of my own modeling work, so obviously that was somewhat of a high.  Upon my return I always have moments like “what’s next”.  I need to find the next thing.  That can be overwhelming at times.  I’m fairly certain I am juggling 20 projects right now.  On the tail end of all of them is becoming a ranked runner, which is funny because I get going trying to land modeling opportunities, speaking opportunities, styling jobs, working on articles and then think to myself… “Ohh wait, I need to go run”.  That should probably be at the top of my priority list.

By 2:00 p.m. I decided I needed Starbuck to cure my blues.  Still basically in my pajamas I headed to my local Starbucks incognito (I looked really bad)!  The barista, upon seeing me, recognized me.  I think from my picture in an article I recently published.  Of all times to be recognized, why am I not at least showered?  Needless-to-say, she has nice things to say about my work.  Just hearing her say she appreciated my writing completely changed my day.  That one comment meant more to me than any other good news I could have received.  She reminded me of why I work hard to do the things I do.  To exceed my own expectations, live my dream and inspire others. It’s not supposed to be easy all the time.  The most rewarding never are.

So, as I head into my day today, I am going to keep in mind the value of sharing kind words with others.  Often we don’t take the extra minute to tell someone they have made a difference to us.  Sometimes when I do this I fear people will think I am odd, disingenuous or just over-the-top. Okay, I am over-the-top sometimes but that’s a different blog!  Never-the-less, my goal is to never miss the chance to share with someone they made a difference to me.  It can turn a day around, it can turn a life around.  It can make a difference.

Who’s That Girl? You’re Guide to Meeting a Mate at the Gym

13 Jun

One of my male friends, who I consider to be quite successful in his career, arrived at the gym the other day ready for his morning work-out.  Across the room he spotted a cute girl on the treadmill. Meeting a girl at the gym appeals to him.  He’s long since left the bar scene and figured meeting a girl at the gym would be perfect, they would likely have something in common.  He heads toward the treadmill she’s on and what happens?  He walked right past the machine next to her to the end of the row and hopped on.  Fear got the best of him that day and he didn’t talk to her.  A few days later the same thing happened, although this time he manages to get on a machine next to her, still no conversation though, he keeps his head down and doesn’t even look her way.

Hearing this story I respond with, “What is wrong with you? You’re highly successful, you look better than you have in years, your personable, why wouldn’t you talk to her?”  I already knew the answer to this question, because despite my friend’s willingness to put himself out there professionally, he finds it much more difficult to do so in his personal life.  He fears rejection.

The reality is, we have to put ourselves out there if we hope to make valuable connections with others, whether they romantic or otherwise.  I’ve decided this will be my test case, to help my friend connect, in the hopes that he might find happiness with a partner that suits him.  Taking risks, like talking to the girl at the gym may or may not result in a romantic relationship, but it might result in friendship.  So how do you develop courage to meet someone at the gym, or elsewhere?  Consider these simple strategies below.

You have to start by saying what do I have to lose?  In the case of my friend, what happens if he talks to her and she thinks she’s “totally out of his league”.  She’ll likely at least be nice, and the social cues she’ll give off will indicate to him she’s not interested in being asked out.  In which case, it’s a few minutes of awkwardness, that’s it.  If she’s rude, at least he knows he wouldn’t want to date her anyway.  To overcome intentionally put yourself in a position where you have to engage in conversation.  Start a conversation with a genuine approach.  Here’s a way to approach my friends situation that will help establish a relationship

1)      Meet her gaze.  If a woman looks at you, and holds her gaze for more than a moment, it likely means she is confident.  It also probably means she wouldn’t mind talking to you.  Don’t look away.  Look right at her, smile, and pause.  This indicates you are open to interactions.

2)      Do not run to the other end of the gym when this happens.  You might be tempted if you are a shy-type, but you need to place yourself in a position where interaction could happen.  This doesn’t mean you need to follow her immediately, but find an opportunity to where you could interact.

3)      Initiate conversation.  Some people are great at getting to this point, but then they open their mouth and it goes downhill from there.  Introduce yourself with a question, “I’ve seen you here before, have you been a member here for long?”  The key when initiating conversation is to ask questions rather than talk about yourself.  Be genuine, and steer clear from announcing anything fabulous about yourself at this point.  Huge turn-off, do nt tell her something like you recently placed in a competition, you have an incredible career or you make a lot of money.  Don’t name drop, don’t brag about your physique, and don’t announce your accomplishments at this point.  Trust me, if she likes you at all she will probably go home and online stalk you so she knows what she is dealing with.  The best thing for women is to meet a genuine guy, who doesn’t brag, and asks insightful questions, only to find out had they bragged they would have had a lot to say.  This peak interests.

4)      Talk to for a bit and tell her it was nice to meet her.  If the conversation went  well, tell her you’d enjoy getting to know her better, and give her a way to contact you or ask for her number.  Be genuine.

5)      Whatever you do, look her in the eye.  Believe it out not, most women are highly aware of where a man is looking.  As a matter of fact, most can tell from across the room if a man is looking at them and where they’re looking.  So, be mindful you are paying attention to the right places on her.  Feel free to compliment her but make it tactful and honest.

6)      Most important, be confident but do not be cocky.  You can take the cocky approach, and maybe it will work for you in the beginning, but if at heart you a nice guy looking to form a valuable lasting relationship that approach will only get you a girl you likely don’t want to commit to long-term.

Women like confident and respectful men.  Really there isn’t a lot to lose.  Many women are likely just as nervous as you when it comes to meeting people and they will appreciate your effort.  Even if they don’t want to form a long-term relationship with you, chances are they will enjoy your company for the moment and be flattered that you were interested enough to talk to them.  For those of you who are successful in your sport, or career, take that energy and direct it into your social life.  Take risk and start relationship building.  It might result in a love connection, a friendship, a professional colleague, or otherwise.

Diaries of a Model: Volume II

1 Jun

A recent conversation with a photographer got me thinking again about modeling and what makes a professional model.  I think a lot of people wonder this and some raise eyebrows at you when you say that’s what you do.  Modeling can be defined very broadly, which leaves the door wide open for interpretation when you say that’s your profession.  If you are anything like me, the last thing you want people to think is that when you say you model it means “Ya, I dance on tables wearing a Hooter’s shirt”.  Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with that, that’s just not my personal definition of modeling nor what I aspire to do.

So how can you determine whether you have the right to call yourself a professional model?  Well, I’ll tell you one thing, it really helps to get some experience under your belt.  You will feel more qualified and legitimate.  Until that point though, the bottom line is you need to believe in yourself, your goals and your ability.  Here are some things that I think qualify you as a professional.

1)      Take yourself seriously.  This is not a hobby.  Not something you say, “Well, if this doesn’t work out oh well, it’s just a hobby.”  That’s actually fear talking by the way, but that’s a topic for another blog post.  You approach your craft with the attitude that this is who I am, I am giving it 100% and I will make it work.  You don’t whisper to people “I model”.  You say it with conviction.

2)      Study your craft.  You have a lot to learn and the good news is that you will get better.  Every single model had a first and most, when you talk to them, will tell you that they probably looked ridiculous on set.  Find those around you who do it and do it well.  Identify people from whom you want to learn and take classes from them, ask for coaching, find a mentor, follow others.  I heard someone say the other day, “I never watch what others do”.  Really, I thought to myself?  That’s truly on of the best ways to learn.  I’m always watching and learning.  Watching and learning is different from copying others, keep that in mind.

3)       Be professional.  I cannot stress this enough!  If this is your job and you care about it you had better be professional.  That means you show up on time.  You give 200% of your energy.  You follow-up when necessary.  You come prepared, meaning rested and showered and energized and ready to go.  Bring your business cards, your resume, and your comp card if you have one.  Study the company, the brand, the organization, whatever it is that you are representing.  Separately, if you are auditioning the same principles apply.  Figure out what they want and decide if you fit the mold.  Practice!  Understand for whom you are aiming to work.

4)      Define yourself.  You will obviously not have a completely clear vision of the kind of work you want to do as you get started in this industry.  Part of that comes with practice, opportunities and growth.  You should; however, invest a significant amount of time thinking about who you are and what you aim to represent.  Who do you resonate with and which clients would find you marketable?  Find those and focus there.  Let’s face it; I could spend the next five years marketing myself to Victoria’s Secret.  Am I going to get hired?  No, I’m sure I won’t.  Why, I not 23.  Unless for some weird reason they decide to do “meet our cast of 38-year-old of moms” I am likely never going to get that job.  If you are perplexed, ask someone you respect.  Sometimes they can see things in you that you can’t see in yourself.  Think about what you love to do, who you spend your time with, where you shop, where you travel to, what your passions are and start there.

 5)      Be grateful and humble. I live by the saying that hard work trumps talent when talent doesn’t work hard.  Sometimes it’s not the prettiest, or the most talented, or the most experienced, or the most athletic person that gets the job.  It’s the person that is willing to work hard for it and is grateful for the experience.  Landing one job does not mean you land another.  Build relationships and earn trust.  Give more than you get, period.  Celebrate every opportunity and give 100%.  Do things for the right reasons.  Don’t forget to help others along the way.

6)      Don’t compromise. This is an important factor in the modeling/talent industry.  You will be pulled in so many directions, challenged by people who expect things from you that you are sometimes uncomfortable with.  You will be told by one client this is the way it’s done and something completely different by the next.  Your job is to make it happen, whatever they want.  Remember that modeling is not about you! With that said, when you find yourself in a situation that screams “this isn’t right”.  Just walk away.  Be true to what you represent.  Be polite and professional but don’t ever let anyone pressure you into doing something that doesn’t feel right.  Once something is out there, it can’t be taken back.  Aim to please but do not compromise your brand.  People will respect you for that.

These are my points I remember every day in trying to craft a career in this industry.  Be professional, be humble, it’s not about me, give more than I get, help others, represent things I believe in, find mentors, learn from those who have walked this road before me, surround myself with people who believe in me, believe in myself and my abilities, trust that I will improve with every job, be the person the client remembers because I am organized, timely, friendly, and professional.  Treat every single person with respect.  Above all, respect myself and remember that I am doing this because it’s what I love.  Find ways to use my experience to empower others and give back.  Always give back more than you get.

Good luck in your journey.  May you have more highs than lows.  Whatever it is you aim to do, if you believe in yourself and work hard enough, you will get there.