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

Dear Trusted Advisor

I've been out of work for three weeks and am just coming to terms with being let go. I know I've got to start looking for a new job, but I don't have the energy or enthusiasm I need to be successful at networking. What do you suggest?
F.P. Washington, DC

Dear F.P.:
It's normal to feel depressed and unmotivated after getting the dreaded pink slip. Sounds like you've spent the last 21 days feeling the pain – now it's time for action. Act as if – as if you are feeling energetic and enthusiastic about the future. Update your resume, assemble your interview outfit, and start smiling and dialing. Call friends and ask for their recommendations, referrals, ideas and possible introductions (as opposed to simply emailing an unsolicited copy of your resume to all your contacts). Follow up on each and every lead and eventually, after knocking on many doors, one will open. Good luck!



The New Professional's Guide to Success is on
sale! Regularly $179, during the month of April you can have your copy for only $99 (MP3 audio download + PDF User's Guide). This is a perfect gift for your new or recent graduate. Phone orders only:
800-975-7031 x 701.

Core Competencies for Non-lawyers will launch this month through our partner, WestLegalEdcenter. This four-part professional development program is designed for those in administrative and support roles at firms of any size, governmental agencies and in-house legal departments. In addition to the 30-minute webcasts, worksheets and a facilitator's guide make this a high quality, low-cost professional development program you can deliver yourself. Click here for more info.


The Personal Touch

Samantha still has the note of thanks that accompanied the candy filled mug her firm gave as a gift for Administrative Professionals Day three years ago. While the candy was gobbled up immediately and the cup went missing some time ago, the handwritten note from the firm administrator has been displayed at her workstation all this time.

"I guess it's the personal touch," said Samantha, "that means so much. It's nice to know that I am appreciated."

Because administrative staff members are being asked these days to do more with much less, it's important to recognize the talent and skills they bring to your organization explicitly. Instead of handing out T-shirts with the firm's logo or giving passes to the local movie theatre, think about sending a more genuine message with lasting impact.

I asked a number of senior leaders how they plan to show staff that they are valued, and below are some great ideas that won't break the bank:

  • Hold a raffle with the prize being a paid day off
  • Allow your administrative workers to wear jeans and sneakers one Friday
  • Hold a cook-off for a prize for the best chili and supply the corn chips and sour cream (or think bake-off: best pie, best brownies, best chocolate chip cookie)
  • Have an ice cream social with firm big-wigs dishing out the ice cream while wearing aprons and funny hats

And the idea I like best,

  • If you're having a luncheon for staff members, have them enter the room one at a time, while the people whom they support express their appreciation. Think about it – when was the last time you got a round of applause or an enthusiastic "You go, girl" or "You're a rock star"? You can really go over the top and have your managing director act as MC by announcing each person's name and perhaps a little tagline, such as "Samantha Stevens, the fastest typist on the third floor," or "Jack Nelson, our very own Sherlock Holmes of the off-site files." Embarrassing, for sure, but in a wonderful way.

None of this is worth ten shares of GM, however, if employees aren't treated with respect and basic courtesy throughout the year. There's nothing more insulting than a manager acting like Dr. Jekyll during the chili cook-off, only to revert back to Mr. Hyde when the party's over (if this is you, I'm available for a free consult!).

Everyone wants to feel like they matter. Make an effort during Administrative Professionals Week (April 19-25) to tell those in support roles exactly how they make your life easier. Take the time to write this in a card or letter, giving an example or two. I promise this small gesture will be valued well above any coffee mug, T-shirt or movie pass.

© 2009 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
general inquiries:


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