advice for YPs

5 Reasons why Executives Should Build Strong Relationships

By: Kara Stucky

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” -African Proverb

 

Whether you’re a young entrepreneur launching your first business, an experienced professional working at a large multi-faceted organization, or a student who hasn’t quite stepped out into the working world, one thing holds true: building successful relationships will be the key to your future success. Have you ever wondered, “Why should I network?” Or “What’s the point?” Here are five reasons building lasting relationships is critical to your success.

  • You’ll Outperform Your Peers: According to HBR.org, “Executives who consistently rank in the top 20% of their companies in both performance and well-being have diverse but select networks...made up of high-quality relationships with people who come from several different spheres and from up and down the corporate hierarchy.”
  • A New Perspective: Stepping outside of your current industry and meeting new professionals who are in a different domain or sector than yours will provide you with a different outlook and a fresh perspective. Tom Farley, President of the NYSE advises that “networking is about collecting relationships with interesting or influential people irrespective of the immediate benefit of these relationships.”
  • What Are You Giving Others? Those who get the most out of networking, and who build the strongest business relationships, are those who are generous. Offer others your expertise or help before asking for something for yourself. If you help out others, by offering advice or giving a referral, you’ll be more likely to build long-lasting relationships.
  • Gain Confidence: Sharing your story with others will help you build  confidence in your own brand building.  Once you share your story, try to find common ground and connect with others. Don’t feel intimidated - Farley encourages that “often times people miss opportunities to network because they feel intimidated, particularly if the other person is more senior.”
  • New Opportunities: Fortune.com states that “sometimes it’s individuals outside your immediate network that end up offering the advice you need to propel your career forward.” So remember, that even if you aren’t looking for a new career opportunity today, the investment in others that you are making today, could help you out tomorrow.

Don’t spread yourself too thin when it comes to building these relationships and remember that authenticity is key.

Join us at our next Magnet event for the opportunity to connect with talented, young professionals in the Madison area. Hope to see you there!

Rules of Thumb: Holiday Shopping & Your Career

By: Knoel Kambak It’s December, which means the weather is getting noticeably colder, the daylight hours shorter and there is only a matter of weeks left to get your holiday shopping done. As I sit in my office at work spending countless hours online shopping for gifts for family and friends (note to employer: I am not spending countless hours online shopping for gifts) I realize that many rules of thumb that apply to effective holiday gift shopping also apply to success in one’s professional career.

Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. As much as I want to believe that a $20 appliance can solve dozens of my kitchen quandaries and provide me with a year-round beach-worthy tan, it will likely fail in all respects. I’m sure somewhere along the line you had high hopes for something you bought or received as a gift, only to have it not live up to the manufacturer’s promises. The same thing can happen in your career. Ever sought out a new job before? A job change is ripe for this rule of thumb. Usually new job opportunities are presented in the most positive light, but you need to be realistic as to what the opportunity actually entails.

You need to be skeptical about the details and realistic about your skill set. While the opportunity to become a C-level executive of a company with just a few years of experience under your belt sounds great, the realities of a real C-level position should tip you off that this may be too good to be true.

Seek out feedback. One of the best ways to address the problems described in the previous paragraph is to get feedback from others. In regards to shopping for gifts, reading online reviews and asking people you know that have used a certain product before helps prevent disappointment after a purchase is made. In your career, you can help prevent a poorly thought out job change through seeking out information from others (e.g. past and present employees of the prospective employer.)

There are also many aspects of your job performance you can improve and develop through feedback. Getting feedback on your work is typically part of your company’s processes (e.g. performance review from a supervisor) but getting feedback from clients and professional acquaintances should also be sought out, especially for feedback on presentations and “soft skills.” Many times the feedback you get from those outside of your company is different, and more useful, than internally. Plus it never hurts to have a wide variety of people providing opinions.

Think of others. In deciding on gifts for others, it is difficult to fully remove one’s personal preferences from the final decision. As much as we consciously try to pick gifts that someone else will like, the decision process is filtered through our own set of values and preferences, whether consciously or not. One way to overcome this is become a good observer. Pay attention to what the person you are buying a gift for talks about and how they talk about different items. You can employ the point from the last paragraph and ask some of the person’s friends what he or she might want as a gift based on what they have observed. Or you just cut to the chase, and ask that person what they would want as a gift.

Professionally, you should always consider your audience. Even if you just turn out sheets of numbers all day, someone else is relying on those sheets of numbers and you should try to include only the information that is important to the person(s) relying on it (and omit the information that is superfluous.)

CEO Spotlight: Kelly Ehlers of Ideas that Evoke

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Madison Magnet Board member and aspiring social media nerd, Jess Parker, catches up with Kelly Ehlers, Founder and CEO of Madison-based social media marketing agency, Ideas That Evoke. I first met Kelly at an Entrepreneurship lunch series hosted by the UW-Madison School of Business.

I was immediately drawn to the story of her start-up as well as her down-to-earth and extremely generous spirit. Kelly’s story is an inspiring example of a young entrepreneur using skills built during employment experiences to launch a successful business in one’s field of expertise. Here are the highlights of our chat!

Kelly Ehlers

 

Kelly, how would you describe Ideas that Evoke and what you do?

At Ideas That Evoke – we are an agency that solves business challenges through social media. We are today – and have been since day one – intentionally niche in our services. This niche has served us very well. We have a great deal of case studies behind us including experiences with Fortune 50 brands and entrepreneurial businesses.

 Tell me a bit about how you made the transition from the corporate world into business ownership:

I always knew I wanted to own my own agency from my first position post college. One thing I’m glad I didn’t do was jump in to that dream too soon. I paid my dues – I learned from a variety of different people and took all of those learnings with me. I’ve applied the good ones and ditched the not-so-good traits of leaders I’ve previously worked with.

Did you have any fears or anxieties about making this transition?

Of course, it was incredibly scary! I was 5 months pregnant when I started Evoke. My husband and I decided to give me one year to see if I could ‘make it.’ Oh – and have our first child in that time, too. One could call it crazy, but…here I am. I bet on myself, but it was the best bet I could have ever made. Was it incredibly difficulty? Yes. Were there times I thought I should just quit? No. I knew I could do it.

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What was your biggest struggle in the first year as CEO of Evoke?

Juggling being a soon to be mom and a new business owner. It’s likely hard to go in to business with someone who is five months pregnant…but turns out, I’m pretty persuasive.

Is there anything that you know now that you would love to share with your 25- year-old self?

Oh – so much. Be patient. Pay your dues. Trust your instincts.

What advice to you have for balancing work with family life and parenting?

It’s incredibly hard. Don’t ever think that success, or building a company, or raising a family is easy work. Those who tell you it is – are lying (or, let’s face it, have millions of dollars to hire loads of help). I started Evoke when I was 5 months pregnant – I made a choice to go “all in” at that time – I knew there would be sacrifices. My advice would be – strive for balance…cherish the little moments – the little successes and, celebrate the successes.

What's next for Evoke? Where do you see the company in 10 years?

I see us expanding globally – and also in the US in working in niche markets, specifically multi-cultural. I feel the company will be poised for incredible growth – we are early adopters of social innovation and I plan to put that early adoption and learning to work for our current – and yet-to-be-clients!

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What do you love about living and working in Madison?

Madison is amazing. I love the small town / city feel. It’s a beautiful city that is really innovating in the tech space. I’m excited to see how Madison’s business and tech scene continues to grow.

Are there any available positions at Evoke that you would like YPs in Madison to know about? If so, what are you looking for in a candidate?

Yes! We’re always hiring! Honestly the core of what we do is great writing – and a great aesthetic. We’re looking for entry-level talent – and those who have been in PR/Marketing/Social for a few years! Always open to hiring those who fit our culture.

Can you tell us anything that most people don't know about you?

Oh my! Well, because of the markets we’re in – beauty/luxury/cosmetics brands – people often find it surprising that I grew up on a farm in Iowa. Not sure how interesting that is – but I could recite the 4H pledge if need be… ha ha.

 Keep an eye out for big things to come from Ideas that Evoke. Evoke is not just activenin their business, but also in the community. Kelly and her team have been spotted volunteering at Ronald McDonald House and also helped to make June 30th the official Social Media Day in Madison. Don’t forget to visit their social media accounts for clever and informative content that will brighten your day and just might ‘up’ your social media game!