networking events

How to Make Introductions at Business Networking Events

Social media and other online platforms have made it easier than ever to connect with people. However, in-person introductions may be a little harder for people to pursue. If you’ve been asking yourself how to make introductions at business networking events, then you’ll be happy to learn there are many tips you can follow.

Talk about the Event

Because you are at an event, don’t be afraid to use it as a conversation-starter. Walk up to a person that you would like to network with and ask them what they thought about a key speaker and include what you appreciated most about what they had to say. This is a great ice breaker and the opportunity to hand out your business card.

Make a Connection

You’ll quickly learn that many of the people at these events are already connected to someone that you know. Make sure that you draw these parallels before the event and then use them to strike up a conversation. People will appreciate your effort, and you’ll be more familiar if you bring up someone that they are comfortable with.

Tell a Story

People like interesting. Have a good story on hand that will captivate your audience in a small group. Wait for the right opportunity and then share the story. People are likely to remember a story that is funny or makes them think. Consider your audience when choosing the type of story that you should tell.

Simple Networking Conversation Starters

If you prefer to keep it simple, then just use regular conversation starters. Some people choose to talk about the food that is served at the event while other people bring up the weather. Stick to a topic you are comfortable with and then allow the conversation to progress to a more professional level.

Overview

Introductions are key when it comes to networking. It is important to get your name out there and make connections with as many people as you can. Remember, it’s all about the quality of the connection. Be your authentic self, and you are more likely to walk away with meaningful contacts.

You may also like Habits Practiced by Highly Successful People

effective people

Want to Be More Productive? Try These Habits of Remarkably Effective People

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but some people seem to accomplish more than others in the same time-frame. It can be easy to simply shrug and believe that you simply don’t have the same skills or talents that they have. However, by using some of their simple tools and guidance, you can find that you can also push through ambiguous barriers and become more productive in all aspects of your life.

Focus on Important Tasks First

If you can conquer the most important things first, it can ensure that the biggest hurdles are overcome while you are fresh and alert. In addition, completing these tasks helps to create positive momentum to conquer the subsequent tasks too.

Break Tasks into Smaller Pieces

Large tasks can be overwhelming. When our goals or priorities seem insurmountable, it can often lead to procrastination, and then a scramble to finish by the deadline. This often leads to poor or error-prone work. If you can break the large task into small, manageable chunks, it can help to create a sense of accomplishment and reduces your perception about workload.

Take Breaks

It can feel counterproductive to take breaks, but recognizing when you are tired, or drained and stepping away can actually increase your overall productivity. We have all tried to push through tasks when we weren’t completely alert, and then had to go back and fix errors, or even start all over again. By taking short breaks, we can return to work with a renewed focus and accomplish our goals.

Start Saying No

When we say yes to everything, our calendars become overloaded leaving little time for focusing on the most important tasks, which can lead to errors, missed deadlines, stress, anxiety and eventually burnout.
Being able to quickly identify tasks that aren’t important or well-suited to your strengths is part of productivity. You won’t spend additional time on something that doesn’t need to be done or can be done by others.

At the end of the day, focusing your energy on your productivity can lead to better overall outcomes in your private and professional lives and using these tools can help get you there.

For more productivity tips, check out Habits Practiced by Highly Successful People

employee quitting

Why Are Your Employees Quitting?


Employee loss accounts for approximately 11 billion dollars annually. It is impossible to keep every employee with you for the rest of their careers. However, you can make sure that you’re doing everything possible to encourage employee retention. We have compiled some tips below that can help.

Review Your Management Team

One of the most common reason that employees quit can be tied back to management. Even the best employees can quickly search for greener pastures if there are unresolved issues with management. Review exit interview information and identify if there is an individual or a theme that continues to arise and then seek to resolve that issue immediately.

Create a Career for Employees

Strong employees want to know that they are doing everything they can to improve themselves and your company. Many employees will start searching for career growth outside of their current position if they can’t see a long-term career from where they sit. Make sure to communicate potential avenues for career growth and that you are offering opportunities for advancement and training.

Ask Tough Internal Questions About Quitting

When an employee quits, it can be easy to blame them. However, it is more helpful to look inwardly at the company to identify things that you can change. Conduct an exit interview to help you learn what you can do to keep your other employees from quitting.

  • What did we do wrong?
  • What can we improve upon in the future?
  • How could we have kept them in the company?

While some employees are going to leave for reasons that are beyond your control, it is cost effective to make sure that you’re doing everything to keep your employees happy. If you can identify some of the issues that are currently arising in your organization and fix them, you will see positive results. Their improved morale will lead to an improvement in your productivity and overall job satisfaction.

For more tips about employee retention, check out It’s Time to Raise Salaries!

salaries

It’s Time to Raise Salaries!

Unemployment is low, making the demand for top talent high.  In this type of  competitive market, your  ability to hold onto your employees can depend very much on how competitively they are being paid.

Higher salaries tend to incentivize higher output. When people feel they are being paid well for their efforts they feel appreciated and generally expend more effort and stay more loyal.

Consider These Factors

There are numerous factors to consider as you assess the timing and scope of salary increases. Here are some to review:

  • Benefits and Perks
    • Assess the value of benefits alongside salaries.
    • Does your organization offer performance bonuses and perks that increase employee engagement?
  • Review your organization’s philosophy of compensation. Are there internal and external influences that suggest a need to update? How do you reward high performers?
  • Are job descriptions and performance evaluations up-to-date? These are part of the compensation equation so consider this carefully.
  • What salary review and planning tasks can be assigned to human resource and department managers?
  • Employee turnover
    • What is your company’s turnover rate for your sector and area? How does this compare with competitor turnover?
    • Review the obvious and hidden expenses of hiring new employees.

Take an Objective Approach: Conduct a Market Data Analysis

There are advantages to being objective.  Have the numbers front and center as you proceed.

  • Company data will show areas of strength and weakness in your employee compensation package.
  • Use online search tools to gather information about compensation packages for similar businesses in your general region.
  • Read online trade articles and blogs about current salary trends.
  • Inform yourself about inflation rates and cost of living data for your region.
  • Having the hard data on hand to share with managers and staff answers questions and reduces misunderstanding.

Keep the Planning Positive as You Prepare to Increase Salaries

The information you gather will determine your planning timeline. Plan for success by:

  • Keeping discussions positive.
  • Engage your managers regularly and have them do the same with employees.
  • Welcome questions, especially those for which there is no present answer.
  • Listen
  • Rollout can begin when processes, from up-to-date job descriptions to financial projections, are in place.

Ultimately, good employees need to be paid well.  Amidst times of low unemployment, a competitive salary is critical for ensuring that employees are satisfied and keeping your business running well. Now is the time to make sure that each employee’s compensation package meets or exceeds the competition.

Check out these Employee Perks to Boost Retention

perks

Satisfaction and Productivity Boosting Perks

Perks Defined

A perk is an employee incentive not tied to salary and benefit contracts. Perk fads come and go, allowing you to swap out less desired ones for those that promise productivity and satisfaction.

A Look at What Perks Offer Your Company

You want to assure that investing in perks offers paybacks that exceed the company’s financial outlay.

Perks benefit your business by:

  • Improving company performance
  • Increasing recruitment and retention
  • Reducing absenteeism and workplace injuries
  • Improving employee engagement and customer satisfaction

Perks Benefit Employees

Create an engaged, productive work team with perks that boost employee well-being. Results include:

  • Improved physical and emotional health
  • Increased energy
  • Positive work-life balance
  • Feeling valued by the organization

Perk Picks: What’s Trending

Here’s a selection and what’s been shared about each perk’s preference:

  • Natural light: Increases energy and attention; reduces eyestrain and fatigue.
  • Skill development and workplace education: Employee feels valued while learning.
  • Flexed schedule: Aids with work-life balance, caring for family, and preferred work hours.
  • Plants and artwork: Add natural and creative touches that soften the work setting.
  • Remote work hours: Increases productivity as it balances with an employee’s family roles.
  • Wellness options: Keeping fit at work boosts morale and energy levels.
  • Pets at work: Create calm and caring for owners and colleagues.
  • Extended summer weekends: No explanation needed!
  • Paid and personal time off bonuses: Supports multiple family and personal commitments.

Engage Employees in Perk Selection

The simple act of asking for employee ideas and input leads to employee engagement. When you implement perks they have selected, workplace loyalty grows. Ways to learn more about the perks that capture employee interest are:

  • Surveys
  • Brain-storming sessions
  • Team challenges: Each team proposes a perk, describing the benefits for them and the company, along with anticipated costs.
  • A perk idea board on which employees add comments to those posted.
  • Ask employees to perk track by sharing what they like or don’t about each one the team has chosen.
new hire orientation

Creating a Successful New Hire Orientation Program

You may call the program orientation or on-boarding. Regardless, you are looking for the same outcome: A successful program for new hires. Gone are the days of paperwork laden, boringly exhausting orientations. Welcome to the era of creating a genuine welcome for your company’s newest employees.

Begin Onboarding at Time of Hire

Design a system to have required documents completed prior to orientation.

  • This helps to reduce the boredom factor.
  • It allows HR to assure that required documents are filed or to follow up as needed.
  • Use this as a topic during onboarding by:
    • Getting new hires’ feedback about the process.
    • Reinforcing the importance of information in relation to corporate values.
    • Adding touches of humor as appropriate.

Make Them Feel Welcome

Chances are you recall an orientation period from your past that could have gone better. It was days before your computer was set up, or you were handed a packet of information to read, sign, and return. At day’s end you left wondering if the place was the right fit for you.

To help your newest employees feel welcome:

  • Have hiring managers match them with mentors.
  • Liven up group onboarding sessions with interactive games, discussions, and tours of the business.
  • Encourage social networking, inviting other employees to join orientation tours and activities.

Talk About the Job

From date of hire, new employees wonder what is in store. Talk about the position and why each was hired to encourage the security that leads to success.

  • Link roles and responsibilities discussion with the new hire’s abilities and aspirations.
  • Share ways for new hires to contribute to teams and the organization.
  • Use an open, engaging tone that supports dialogue.
  • Be upfront with information about evaluations, timing for reviews, performance bonuses, and improvement plans.

Next Steps: Keep Them Engaged

Managers help new hires to feel part of the organization with informal and formal interactions by:

  • Checking in while touring the department.
  • Dropping an email to inquire how they are doing.
  • Assuring that periodic reviews have timely completion.
  • Requesting them to assess the orientation process.
  • Inquiring what they need to best fulfill their responsibilities.

Check out Employee Perks to Boost Retention to help you hold on to those new hires.

salary negotiating

Tips for Salary Negotiating

You’ve had a successful interview and it’s time for the next phase of pre-employment. You are scheduled to meet with human resources and the hiring manager. Consider these steps and tips as you plan for the meeting:

  • Review salary range for similar positions and qualifications in your region.
  • Review benefit packages.
  • Learn about workplace perks, knowing that these can change.

Merit/Performance-Based Salary Negotiation

You know how hard you work. Your job is exempt and demanding, requiring extended hours without additional compensation. It’s time to request a salary increase based on performance and your contributions to the organization. Prepare!  One of the biggest issues that can derail a salary negotiation is not having proof that you’re an asset to your organization. 

  • Take the objective approach to determine the salary you’ll request.
    • Research salaries for same/similar positions online.
    • Look at benefit packages as this may be a negotiation point.
  • Update your resume/CV and portfolio/work samples.
  • Objectively discuss what you have learned. 
    • Concretely present how your talents benefit the organization.
    • Reveal your work satisfaction and engagement.

Other Negotiating Tips if Salary Offer Falls Short

Regardless if you are negotiating salary for a new or existing position, the salary offer may be lower than desired. You have the option to negotiate for added benefits or perks, including:

  • An educational benefit, such as student loan deferments, or a stipend for courses.
  • Additional vacation time in lieu of the gap between desired and actual salary.
  • Telecommuting hours/days or flex time.

Don’t Do These During Negotiation

Hiring managers advise against:

  • Discussing personal financial woes.
  • Apologizing for asking for a reasonable salary based on your qualifications.
  • Give ultimatums.

Negotiation Tools of the Trade

There are some salary estimating tools online that will support your quest. After all, knowing your worth is valuable information that validates your abilities and knowledge.

Check out Habits Practiced by Highly Successful People

interview questions

You Can Answer Tricky Behavioral Interview Questions

You’re scheduled for an interview—it’s a job you really want. There’s a chance you’ll feel a bit nervous. Best to be prepared, especially for those tricky behavioral questions. You want to answer those to the best of your ability. Read on for ideas to get you ready!

Questions Related to Your Individual Behavior

These questions relate to how you respond to situations, such as:

  • How do you prioritize a variety of tasks with competing deadlines?
  • What is your reaction to criticism? And to praise?
  • What do you do when you need to adhere to policies you feel are too restrictive?

Questions Related to Interpersonal Behavior

These questions are designed to learn about your ability to work with other people. The interviewer may pose questions or direct you to respond to a scenario.

  • Describe a time when a customer or client complained to you about your service. How did you manage the complaint?
  • What actions do you take to resolve conflicts with work peers?
  • What steps would you take if you witnessed unethical/illegal acts in the workplace?
  • What approach have you taken when you have had challenges with a supervisor?
  • Are there changes you would make in the future based on past interactions?

You Can Be Prepared!

Prepare for behavioral questions by thinking about challenging situations from the past:

  • Make brief notes that describe the issue.
  • What was your initial reaction? A reaction is typically immediate and emotional.
  • How did you respond? A response involves deliberate thought and planning.
  • What steps did you take to resolve the situation?
  • What was your assessment of the outcome?
  • What did you learn from this entire situation?
  • Have you applied lessons learned to resolve other situations?

As you review various scenarios, you’ll see your pattern of adaptability emerge. Use what you have learned about your adaptability to prepare your brain for answering tricky questions by:

  • Identifying a challenge you experienced.
  • Describing the actions taken to respond to the challenge.
  • Summarizing the outcomes of your actions.
  • Describing lessons learned and how you use these to address challenges.
questions

Ask These Questions During an Intake Meeting with a Hiring Manager

A hiring manager has requested an intake meeting with you. Her team has a new position for which you will lead recruitment efforts.  During intake meetings, recruiters and hiring managers confirm the job title and job duties, discuss the qualification criteria and interview stages (e.g. screening calls, assessments tests, etc.)

Intake meetings are useful because they help recruiters:

  • Reduce miscommunication and back-and-forth emails
  • Clearly establish a position’s requirements
  • Engage hiring managers in the recruiting process

The first question set teases out the role and expected benchmarks of the new position within the department and company.

  • Begin by summarizing your understanding of the job. Are there other points about this position that I should know?
  • How will this position benefit your department?
    • Will it add performance capacity?
    • If so, describe in what ways, framing them as outcomes with timeframes.
  • Do you anticipate this position having specific interactions with other departments?
    • Describe these and if it will affect supervisory relationships.

Specific questions aid learning about the position’s qualifications.

Details assure that recruitment efforts find the best candidates. Guide the hiring manager to separate absolute requirements from those preferred.

  • What are the minimum educational requirements?
  • What technical skills and experiences are required?
    • Note any preferred length of time, such as two years of IT networking serving X number of work stations.
    • Is aptitude required for specific software applications?
      • If so, which and for what length of time?
      • How is proficiency demonstrated?
  • Does the position have direct reports?
    • If so, what sort of supervisory experience is needed?
    • Is there a minimum time length required?
  • Are there must-have interpersonal abilities?

After those questions are answered, return to the preferred qualifications. Reframing the above questions will provide consistency and efficiency for your discussion.

Recruitment Screening Questions

This last set guides your approach to screening interviews.

  • What four questions are most important for me to ask during a phone interview?
  • What should candidates anticipate and prepare for if invited to interview?
  • What companies are competing for this position’s best candidates?
  • Do you know people here or in your network who are suitable for this work?

 

hiring

Hiring Strategies to Land Your Best Employees

Beyond Hiring as Usual

When searching for job candidates in 2019, you should be fine-tuning your hiring strategies. With low unemployment rates, supply is down and demand is up, along with the competition for top candidates in the accounting and finance field. This can make it challenging to lure in candidates for executive-level positions.

Hiring strategies that worked in past years simply don’t work with today’s low unemployment rates. Job candidates have the upper hand, meaning you need to retool your efforts in order to attract the best candidates.

Consider these points as you proceed with recruitment:

  • Identify the assets and skills most needed for the position and the organization.
  • Determine past work/personality styles that became a liability for productivity.

Hiring Strategies from a Who’s Who of Leaders

This summary of key hiring strategies comes from a diverse group of business leaders, from those in garments and online retail, to publishing, finance, and entertainment. They include Sara Blakely, Jeff Bezos, Leslie Jane Seymour, Bob Iger, Sallie Krawcheck, and Warren Buffett.

  • Hire people with skills that complement each other.
    • There can be some overlap although you want to see talent distinctions in your team.
    • Choose people with assets that balance your limitations.
  • Optimism and positivity pay off.
    • Look for prospective employees who will be a positive influence on others.
    • Add an optimist to your team to help with finding the silver lining amidst gloom. This strength is associated with innovation and rich problem solving.
  • Focus on what you want to learn during the interview. This is key to discerning which candidate best fulfills your needs for the position.
    • Plan time and listen for questions. These can be even more revealing that responses to your questions.
    • Identify if a candidate demonstrates qualities you value.
  • Honesty is the best policy.
    • Don’t sugarcoat aspects of the position that are demanding.
    • Be clear about current business challenges to allow the candidate to determine if they’re up to the task.

Partner With an Accounting and Finance Recruiter

You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, you may want to make this your first step in the process of finding and hiring skilled professionals.

Specialized Accounting and Finance staffing agencies are familiar with the current employment trends and have large networks of accounting and finance professionals to meet your hiring needs.

Not only do our recruiters vet the candidates, but they also streamline the interview process and help with the offer stage to ensure smooth negotiations.

For tips on how to keep your new hires, check out: Employee Perks to Boost Retention