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Neels & Company - Strategic Business Communication
Trusted Advisor
Gretchen Neels
Gretchen Neels, President, Neels & Company

Dear Trusted Advisor

I find the practice of giving a sales pitch under the pretense of asking a question of a panel member at a seminar rather undignified. Last week, a woman selling financial advice took a good two minutes to introduce herself before getting to her "question." Do these people think they're fooling anyone? How would you suggest one ask a proper question at such an event.
F. J., Tenafly, NJ

Dear F.J.,

Maybe we were at the same seminar - I know exactly what you're talking about. A good, provocative question is like manna from heaven to speakers who know their topics inside and out, and can make the person asking look far more competent than any sales pitch. Prepare concise and thoughtful questions before the event, and when the spotlight's on you, stand, state your name and organization, ask your question and bask in the silent appreciation of the audience.



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Meet The Parents

In the wake of the upheaval of the financial world, most of us feel like we're in free fall, not knowing when or where we'll land. Those in leadership positions are being asked the impossible - to predict the future in terms of where management and staff will be in the next quarter, the next month, or even the next week.

People are stressed out, and I'm here to offer a little advice to help you make the most of what little control any of us has during such turbulent times.

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. To get out of a riptide, float - if you fight it, you'll exhaust yourself and drown. Rather than get wound up over the latest woe from Wall Street, take a deep breath (several actually), consider that what is happening is the result of years and years of unrestrained financial gluttony, and realize that it will take some time to get things back on track. If you're not Mr. Paulson or Mr. Bernanke, let it go.

  3. Staying informed does not mean CNN 24/7.
  4. Sometimes taking a break from the news is the best thing to take the edge off. In our culture we often unknowingly suffer from information overload. To combat this, turn off the radio, and give yourself a break from the television, newspapers, and other sources of information. What will be, will be - your job is to remain calm and look for ways to prepare for change.

  5. Dust off your resume.
  6. Everyone should have an up-to-date resume, regardless of the economic climate. The Roman philosopher Seneca said, "Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity." Be prepared for whatever scenario unfolds with a resume that documents your most recent position, and highlights your strengths and accomplishments. One never knows when an opportunity will present itself.

  7. Attend a networking event or two (or three).
  8. If there is ever a good time to get out of your regular surroundings and meet new people, it's now. Your goal should be to connect with people you can help. Not only does it feel good to do good, but you'll find that reaching out to others with a helping hand is an especially effective, if somewhat counterintuitive, way of networking. Remember, you've got to give to get, so get giving.

  9. Count your blessings.
  10. Few of us take the time to pause and be thankful for all that we have, in this moment. Things could always be worse. Tuck your 401(k) statement in a drawer without looking at it, stop checking the stock listings, and write down at least three blessings in your life, right now.

© 2008 Neels & Company, Inc. - All Rights Reserved

We are the leading provider of soft skills training to professional services firms, covering all areas of business communication.

Neels & Company, Inc. – Strategic Business Communication
P. O. Box 623, Boston, MA 02117
800-975-7031 ext. 701
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