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News & Field Trips

31 Posts authored by: Kat Boogaard

As one of the leading women in energy at  Emerson Automation Solutions, a business of global technology and engineering company Emerson, Lorrie Alvarez Thompson undoubtedly has a lot on her plate.

 

In her role, she’s responsible for directing a global team in different world areas and managing everything from customer service to business development.

 

But, even with her full schedule, she finds a great amount of fulfillment in her career—and even more so in the fact that she gets to mentor and lead the next generation of female leaders in the industry.

 

I chatted with Thompson about her background, her future, and what she has learned along her career.

 

Growing a Career


Thompson started at Westinghouse, after graduating from Texas A& M University, and worked in various roles from sales, to controls specialist, to branch management for eight years in the Industrial Petrochemical and Chemical market segment. “Eaton Corporation was acquiring the Westinghouse Distribution and Control unit and with all the uncertainty that an acquisition brings it made me explore other opportunities outside of Westinghouse,” Thompson stated.  At that point, Thompson made the move to Emerson—a company she’s been with for the past 24 years. 

 

Thompson has worked in several areas of the business—from business unit field sales, to International Global Account Director for ExxonMobil, to various business unit and group management roles, and to her current position as Global Vice President of Sales for Emerson Flow - Daniel Measurement and Control.

 

She had her first taste of international work when she was the Global Account Director for ExxonMobil.  “My job was to bring value to the customer leveraging all the business units in Emerson Automation Solutions—One Emerson,” she says, “One way to do this was to showcase Emerson’s global footprint.”

 

 

Thompson is a firm believer that the opportunity to work internationally brings an invaluable experience. “It enabled me to gain a perspective of conducting business in multi-cultural environments,” she adds. She has visited 34 countries and spent much time in the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

 

International travel aside, Thompson recalls that one of the pivotal turning points in her career happened when the former president of Emerson Flow, Gene Perkins, extended an invitation to an Emerson Flow Board meeting.  “He saw skills in me that I hadn’t realized.  Gene was my first mentor and sponsor within Emerson. A sponsor seeks you out and an individual must find a coach,” explains Thompson.

 

“I would attend quarterly board meetings and have a seat at the table – it gave me the opportunity to learn the business from a C-Suite perspective and contribute from the client’s perspective” she says. Fortunately, Perkins had the foresight to develop people and expose them to experiences to help them gain skills for future roles in Emerson.  

 

 “I realized what an invaluable experience that was,” says Thompson. “When he gave of his personal time to mentor me, that changed my career. I’ve learned a lot from those board meeting days! My goal now is to help others have an opportunity like the one that my sponsor gave me.”

 

Lessons learned as a woman in energy

Having a sponsorship/mentorship from executive management and her being open to trying new roles has helped Thompson reach her current role.  She’s learned many lessons along the way that she believes other women can benefit from.  

 

  • Take Risks – look for opportunities that you can build upon your current skills and gain skills for your next role. You may not be ready for all the responsibilities of that particular role, but don’t wait for when you have achieved them or you might miss a great opportunity.   She recalls that she took her first risk and never looked back when she moved from Westinghouse to Emerson. 
  • Work Internationally –it brings a different perspective when you have to learn to assimilate into a different culture. She has worked in China when using interpreters was the only way to communicate with the head of process control at a National Oil Company who by the way was a woman. Thompson continues highlighting experiences in Thailand, Oman, Qatar and Russia where it was a must to assimilate into the client’s environment to be successful.
  • Sponsors vs. Coaches – A sponsor will find you and coaches are individuals you seek out. Thompson highlights when Perkins sponsored her in the early phase of her career, it was a critical pivot point. She continues with “you must earn the opportunity to be noticed by executive management by being a top contributor, excelling at your current role and most importantly bringing insight that others may not have.”
  • Learn to be Agile – rotate to new roles every three to four years, some may be lateral moves and others will accelerate your career. Another valuable lesson that Thompson explains is to understand that you will have a career path that isn’t always straight to a senior executive role. There are pivot points in everyone’s career development – first job, next role specializing in a particular area of business, having a family, moving to a new geographic location, and taking on roles that will challenge you beyond belief. Each pivot point in your career should be looked at as an opportunity for your personal life and your business life!
  • Build Effective Teams and Develop Others Along the Way - Thompson has enjoyed the opportunity to work with and lead global teams that are committed to getting it done. She stated that “if you are not investing in developing people on your team then you aren’t doing your job as a leader. You always want to be developing someone that can take your role so you can move to the next one. My leadership compass is that leaders inspire people to follow them and managers have people work for them.”

 

Supporting the next generation of women

 

Thompson is taking her lessons learned and her wisdom and hoping to instill it in future generations of the industry – both by growing and developing her Emerson team and by serving as part of Pink Petro’s Executive Advisory Board.

 

Thompson encourages Emerson colleagues to join Pink Petro, has attended Pink Petro’s HerWorld conference, serves as a leader for professional development committee for Emerson’s Houston Women in STEM chapter, is an active member with women networking groups and is part of the mentor program at Emerson.   She believes that the Pink Petro provides a social community for connecting, mentoring opportunities and through the Pink Petro Live TV segments provide great learning content for professional development.  Pink Petro TV showcases many successful women C-Suite leaders that have accomplished so much and learned valuable lessons along their career path. 

 

With her impressive resume and breadth of experience, it’s impossible to deny that Thompson will make her mark on younger talent—which is just one of the many reasons we’re excited to have her on the Executive Advisory Board.

 

Katie Mehnert  CEO of the startup Pink Petro, is particularly thrilled about the addition to the Executive Advisory Board—a diverse team of industry leaders from various backgrounds to help Mehnert steer the growth of a startup in a downturn.  

 

“As a private for-profit social enterprise in a volatile and uncertain market cycle, I’m thrilled to have Lorrie’s sales and business insights,” says Mehnert, “She and my entire executive team are bought in on the vision and she will be integral in helping me think through the strategy and execution as we ramp our growth in the next 12-24 months.”

There are those people who do amazing things in their careers. And, then there are those people who take things one step further. They don’t just climb the ladder themselves—they also turn around and offer tools, resources, and encouragement to help other people make their way up each and every rung.

 

Without a doubt, Ally Cedeno fits into that latter category. Not only has she built a successful career and traveled all across the globe, but she also launched WomenOffshore.org—a website dedicated to helping other women make names for themselves in the energy industry.

 

Needless to say, Ally (who’s currently working in South Korea!) has a lot on her plate. We chatted with her about her experience in the industry, her new website, and her best advice for women who want to follow in her footsteps.

Getting Her Start

In 2008, Cedeno received a bachelor’s degree in Logistics and Intermodal Transportation from the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, NY.

 

“I started working in the oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and was fortunate to land a position as a Dynamic Positioning Operator (DPO) trainee to earn a dynamic positioning certificate,” Cedeno says.

 

“My first DP experience was on a dive support vessel, and I really enjoyed the challenges of operating the vessel alongside platforms while a diver worked below,” she adds.

Climbing the Ladder

Since then, Cedeno has continued to push forward in her career—all the way to her current position as a Senior Dynamic Positioning Operator for a major drilling contractor.

 

“We are currently building the ship I am assigned to in shipyard, but we will soon transit to the Gulf of Mexico where I’ll be responsible for keeping the vessel on station while we drill,” she explains.

 

In fact, Cedeno is currently in South Korea working in a shipyard for a month at a time. “It has been an eye-opening experience seeing the ships under construction,” she says, “I greatly admire the organization of the shipyard and how efficiently it operates.”

 

Yes, South Korea is a long way from home, but Cedeno considers all of that travel to be one of the greatest perks of her job. “I have been fortunate to sail all over the world, including in Antarctica,” she adds.

 

As far as what an average day on the job looks like for Cedeno, long hours are the norm. “A typical day for me is 12 hours long, monitoring the DP system to ensure the vessel stays over the wellhead,” she explains.

Women Making Waves

It’s no secret that Cedeno is thriving in a notoriously male-dominated industry. “I have often been the only woman on board or the only woman outside of catering,” she explains. But, Cedeno doesn’t necessarily consider that a bad thing—and has actually managed to use that to her advantage.

 

“I have been lucky to have some great male mentors and wouldn’t be where I am without those platonic relationships,” she adds.

 

But, Cedeno also admits that there’s a shift happening—she’s seeing more and more women involved in the industry. “On the last ship I worked on, amazingly, there were women working all over the rig,” she says, “There were so many women, I don’t even know them all. I really enjoyed the camaraderie I found on that ship and the fact that I wasn’t an anomaly on board.”

 

With that in mind, Cedeno took steps to launch WomenOffshore.org. “The industry is evolving to become more diverse and inclusive,” she explains, “I founded WomenOffshore.org to report on the latest news in how the industry is changing, connect women to resources that foster long-term careers, and highlight the amazing, diverse group of women who work in operations. They all have a story to tell and hopefully their stories will inspire more women to pursue similar careers.”

Words of Wisdom

Indeed, Cedeno has tons of great insights to share with people—both men and women—who are hoping to forge careers in the energy industry. And, according to her, it all starts with networking.

 

“Reach out to those you know working offshore and keep in touch,” she advises, “If you don’t already know someone, look for organizations such as Pink Petro and check out WomenOffshore.org. There are some outstanding resources out there and a lot of people who want to help.”

 

Cedeno, who’s a Pink Petro community member herself, found out about Pink Petro in a rather surprising way—from a male friend. “I was surprised he knew so much about Pink Petro and was very enthusiastic about what they were doing in the industry!” she says. It’s just further proof that you can receive some inspiring career help from unlikely sources.

 

So, when it comes to the very best career advice she’s ever received? Cedeno has an important reminder for all of us. “Early on in my career, I was told to ‘normalize discomfort in learning,’” she says, “My supervisor told me to not be afraid to dive in deep into manuals, ask questions, and get dirty searching for answers to learn the ins and outs of the systems I work with. Basically, he didn’t just want me to know what button to press, but instead learn how and why it functions the way it does.”

 

Indeed, we’re all never done learning. And, Cedeno is living, breathing proof that—when you continue to search for the “why” rather than the “what”—you’re bound to do big things.

Originally from the Netherlands, Maria Talasz’s background is in art, graphic design, and architecture. Now residing in Anchorage, Alaska, Maria works as the Office Manager for Stantec, a global architecture and engineering firm.

 

As an area that was previously developing quite aggressively in terms of energy, Alaska was effected pretty greatly by the industry downturn.

 

We caught up with Maria to talk about what she’s up to now, her advice for pushing forward in your career—even in a disheartening downturn—and how your interests can find you in some unexpected places!

Getting Her Start

While she now works heavily with health and safety management, Maria’s career path was anything but linear. When she moved to Alaska in 2001, she began working at a small aerial photography company—which is now part of Quantum Spatial.

“My job involved branding and marketing, designing graphic and web-based materials and assisting with photo editing for various deliverables,” she explains.

 

Maria loved the places she could explore right from her own desk—just by looking through the various aerial shots. “Especially interesting was the photography that was flown after the earthquake in 2003, where the Trans Alaska Pipeline System was impacted by the activity around the fault line,” she adds, “The pipeline is iconic in our state and is a critical piece of infrastructure.”

Changing Careers

After a few years working for the aerial photography company, Maria decided to make a change. She started at USKH, an architectural and engineering firm. There, she

performed branding, graphics, and web design for seven different branch offices in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

 

In 2012, Shell became serious about drilling in the Chuckchi Sea, and USKH’s environmental services group was eager to help in the development efforts. “We started to work together with Native Alaskan businesses that were part of the Arctic Coalition,” she explains, “I became very interested in the oil and gas industry, as it became evident that it was instrumental in establishing and maintaining how we live in Alaska here today.”

 

With her artistic talents and keen eye, Maria loved her work in marketing. But, in 2014, USKH was acquired by global architecture and engineering firm, Stantec—which means her job responsibilities shifted quite a bit. While she’s still largely involved in marketing, she also took on work as a Safety Coordinator for the company’s Anchorage office, while assisting the other former USKH offices.

 

Stantec has been working on the Trans Alaska Pipeline System for many years and provides a wide range of services to a number of producers and pipeline operators.

An Industry Downturn

In 2014, Maria was at the Arctic Energy Symposium, where she was attending a briefing by Robert Blauw of Shell—which happened to be the very same morning they got the news that the decision was made to leave Alaska and cease drilling. “This was the beginning of a sharp downturn,” Maria says.

 

“It is said that—for every job lost in the sector—another six are in jeopardy,” explains Maria. She mentions that currently every dollar is being looked at to keep the state government funded.

 

However, Maria is managing to stay positive in the downturn, and feels fortunate that the firm she works for is still performing well. “This has historically been a part of life here—boom or bust,” she shares, “In general, things will come back. Maybe they won’t be as they’ve been before, but I’m hoping they’ll be better balanced.”  

Finding Pink Petro

Maria discovered Pink Petro through a few of her friends, and has really enjoyed the sense of community it has provided for her. In fact, Maria and a few other women started their own Pink Petro hub in Alaska to keep women connected. “We try to reach out in the community and create two events a year,” Maria explains, “In Alaska the personal aspect of meeting face to face and local networking are important.

 

As for Maria’s advice to other women who are aiming to push forward in their own careers? “Network, network, network, and keep learning,” she says, “Be present, volunteer, and be involved.”

 

Maria believes that having that go-getter attitude and willingness to learn is exactly what will continue to propel women upwards—even in male-dominated fields like the ones she has worked in. Maria cites her own daughter as an example of that, who she claims has gone further in her career than anyone else in her family. “Each generation,” she concludes, “Girls dream bigger, act bolder, and achieve more!”

Social media. You know it’s a big deal. In fact, 69% of the population uses some form of social media today.

 

But, beyond sharing photos from your latest vacation or keeping up with what your out-of-state relatives are up to, there are plenty of ways to leverage social media to not only share personal updates—but also to boost your professional reputation.

 

That’s what today’s “Dear Kat” question touches on:

 

“Dear Kat, I love social media. But, I really only use it personally. I know plenty of people use it to further their careers, but I feel really uncertain about how to do that. It seems like such a fine line to walk! Do you have any tips?”

 

I’ll admit that social media can present some murky waters to navigate. Today, our work lives and personal lives are more integrated than ever—and your social accounts are just the icing on that  cake! You want to send the right message about who you are as a professional, without coming across as too stiff or inauthentic.

 

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to use social media to elevate your professional reputation—while still being yourself.

 

1. Think Beyond LinkedIn

Despite the fact that the lines have become blurred between our personal and professional lives, many people still try to compartmentalize their social media usage.

 

It goes like this: LinkedIn is for professional use and every other network should be personal. But, believe me when I tell you that definitely isn’t the case.

 

I love LinkedIn, but Twitter is often much more helpful to me when it comes to networking. Instagram has helped me grow a devoted following for my own website and blog posts—even though I still share plenty of personal snapshots of my rescued terrier mutt.

 

If you’re aiming to leverage social media as a tool in your career, don’t limit yourself to thinking that means you only need to step up your game on LinkedIn. There are plenty of ways to use the other networks as well!

 

2. Follow Influencers

Next up, you want to fill your feed with relevant, interesting, and engaging updates that you might want to share with your own audience (more on that a little later!).

 

The best place to start is by seeking out various influencers on your social media platforms. Maybe you want to follow that author you admire on Instagram or LinkedIn. Or, perhaps you want to follow that speaker, leader, or business owner on Twitter.

 

Of course, you can continue to engage and interact with your family, friends, and the people you know personally. But, pepper a few career or industry-relevant professionals in there too! That will give you plenty of content that you can share to boost your own reputation.

 

3. Share Their Updates

Speaking of sharing content, this is a great place to start if you’re just dipping your toes into the water of using social media as part of your professional brand.

 

Generating your own content or coming up with your own things to say can feel overwhelming (and maybe even a little unnatural!) at first. This is why you’ll be glad that you followed those influencers—you can simply share, repost, or retweet the things that they’re posting.

 

Do that, and your own social account will be the perfect blend of some personal touches, while also including some professional updates—so, can rest assured that you look both career-driven and well-balanced.

 

Need an example? Check out this snippet from my own Twitter profile. There’s an article I retweeted (and coincidentally also wrote) about freelancing—a topic that’s obviously near and dear to me—for an industry blog. But, right below it, there’s a more humorous personal tweet about my experience in my first spin class (which, yes, really was that dreadful).

 

Remember, using social media as a tool for your professional identity doesn’t mean you need to be strictly business. It’s called social media—which means people still want to get a feel for your personality.

 

4. Join Groups

Another reason it’s called social media? Because it’s very purpose is to connect you with people.

 

One of the best ways to do that is by joining in on groups or relevant discussions. Join a LinkedIn or Facebook group. Use a related hashtag when posting on Instagram. Find an industry Twitter chat and chime in with your two cents!

 

Despite the name social media, it can often seem like you’re throwing your carefully crafted updates into a giant black hole—the internet can feel almost overwhelmingly anonymous.

 

So, by making the effort to participate in groups and conversations about topics you care about, you’re sure to use social media for its intended purpose—relationship building—while connecting with like-minded (and even not-so-like-minded!) people.

 

When you think about using social media professionally, it’s easy to just think about beefing up your LinkedIn presence. However, all of your accounts can be a great benefit to your professional reputation.

 

I’ll admit that it can feel challenging to walk that tightrope between keeping things professional—but still personal and friendly—on social media. But, I promise that it’s not nearly as tough as you think!

 

Implement these strategies, and you’re sure to leverage social media to elevate your professional reputation—without coming off as overly stiff, formal, and impersonal.

Take charge in your career, but be a team player. Make sure your ideas are heard, but listen more than you speak. Look out for number one, but support others.

 

Are you confused yet? I can’t blame you. The waters you need to navigate in your professional life can get undeniably murky.

 

We’re told to grab the reins, be assertive, and steer our careers in the direction we want them to go. But, we’re also told not to be bossy—we shouldn’t put ourselves first. We need to be competitive, but we also need to be collaborative.

 

It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, that’s for sure. And, finding the balance between the two can present some challenges, much like today’s “Dear Kat” reader has discovered:

 

Dear Kat, I’m so often told to be more assertive in my career and go after the things I want. But, I’m also worried about being viewed as pushy, overbearing, or inconsiderate. I want to be competitive in my career, but I don’t want to step on others to get there—in fact, I want to lift them up with me. Do you have any advice for climbing the ladder—without stepping over other people or sending them tumbling off entirely?

 

First, this is an excellent attitude to have. Yes, it definitely pays to look out for number one in your career (nobody cares about your success and future as much as you do!). But, if you can find a way to do that without being condescending or brutal, you’ll maintain a positive professional reputation and solid relationships.

 

So, how do you strike this balance? Here are a few tips that will help:

 

1. Celebrate Others

We all fall into this trap: Thinking that other people’s successes are our failures. When someone gets a promotion, an award, or a great new job, it’s pretty much human nature to get down on yourself—why didn’t you achieve that very same thing?

As natural as that might be, it’ll ultimately only drag you down and undermine your confidence. And, when you think about it, silently resenting or envying that person won’t push you any further ahead.

 

So, rather than feeling disheartened and wallowing in your own negativity, join in and celebrate that person’s successes. Congratulate him or her on a job well done! After all, it’ll be tough to foster a reputation as someone who’s supportive and encouraging if you constantly turn a blind eye to everyone else’s accomplishments—yet expect them to leap for joy when you achieve one of your own.

 

2. Learn From Others

Of course, you can take things a step further than just recognizing those people who accomplish great things. Why? Well, because these are people that you can learn a lot from.

 

Maybe that person just completed a major project that intrigues you. Or, perhaps she landed a promotion that you’re eager to land one day. Instead of thinking that person just took your spot, make it your mission to learn from her own experience and insights.

 

After you’ve congratulated her (remember, that’s important!), request a time when you could take her out for a celebratory coffee or drink when she has time. This will give you the perfect opportunity to find out more about that person’s path—experience is a great teacher!

 

One word of caution: You don’t need to do this in a sneaky or passive aggressive way. Simply state that you admire what she’s achieved and you’re curious to know more about the steps she took to get there. Hopefully, she’ll be more than willing to share!

 

3. Share Your Insights

If you expect to learn from the people ahead of you on the ladder, you also need to be prepared to return the favor and help out the people that are below you.

 

Often, we feel tempted to hold onto our own tips, advice, and experiences like they’re trade secrets—we reveal just enough to seem helpful, but not so much that we’re handing people things on a silver platter.

 

But, ask yourself this: What’s the worst that can happen if you turn around and offer other people truly beneficial and actionable advice? They’ll achieve things similar to you? Is that really so bad?

 

If you truly want to be collaborative, resist the temptation to keep your best advice so close to the vest. Helping someone else make strides in their own career is rewarding (and typically does no harm to you!). In fact, more often than not, it elevates your professional reputation and establishes some great mentor/mentee relationships.

 

4. Always (Always!) Act With Integrity

Oh, how easy it can be to ignore our conscience in those moments when we want nothing more but to keep clawing our way up that ladder. We’ve all done things that make us feel a little shameful—whether it’s throwing a co-worker under the bus or going over a boss’ head.

 

However, you will never—and I really mean never—regret acting with integrity. How can you make sure that you always act with a clean conscience? Well, slow down a little.

 

Before acting or speaking, ask yourself if this is something you’ll be proud of. Would you say whatever you’re about to say in front of that person you’re speaking about? If someone found out about the way you’re behaving, would feel the need to duck your head in shame?

 

Let’s face it—your conscience is pretty good at speaking to you. So, when you get that uneasy feeling that you’re doing something a little shady or ruthless, take a deep breath and find another way. You can definitely be competitive, without being cutthroat.

 

There’s no denying that being competitive and aggressive in your career—while avoiding being unnecessarily aggressive or pushy—can be a tough balance to strike. But, it’s doable, as long as you’re willing to press pause, practice some humility, and change your perspective a little bit. Put these tips to work, and you’re sure to walk that fine line!

With the recent public relations blunders and straight up crises of companies like Pepsi and United Airlines, professional faux pas have been on my mind quite a bit recently. And, if this week’s Dear Kat reader is any indication, I’m not alone:

 

Dear Kat, I try to always be respectful and professional in my career. But, that doesn’t mean I’m flawless. I still make mistakes! Do you have any tips for bouncing back from a work-related screw up?

 

We’re all only human. So, no matter how conscientious you try to be, you’re bound to goof every now and then.

 

Whether you do something minor, like send an email to the wrong person or spill the breakroom pot of coffee, or you do something that’s a little more cringe-worthy—like include incorrect information in a major report, for example—mistakes in your career are inevitable.

 

But, much like anything, it’s not always about what happened, but how you react to it that matters most. So, let’s take a look at how you can bounce back from your professional mistakes even better than before.

 

1. Get Ahead of it

We’re all likely far too familiar with that stomach-sinking feeling that occurs when we realize we just made a big mistake. And, oftentimes, our shame is enough to inspire us to consider leaving it alone and hoping that nobody notices.

 

However, attempting to sweep your faux pas under the rug is one of the worst things you can do—particularly if your mistake could have major negative consequences. Instead, you’re much better off owning up to your slip-up and then immediately jumping into action to fix it.

 

The sooner you can take accountability and identify next steps, the better. The only thing worse than making a mistake is getting caught trying to hide it.

 

2. Loop Someone Else In

In many cases, it’s also a good idea to make somebody else aware of your mistake—especially your boss or supervisor. Yes, it can be embarrassing. But, it’s almost always wise to bring in some outside perspective.

 

Perhaps she has some experience with this sort of mistake being made before, meaning she’ll have some sage advice for the best way to fix it. Or, maybe she’ll be able to assure you that your slip-up was really no big deal.

 

Either way, it’s important that your manager is in the know about your blunder, particularly if it will end up being something she needs to address or explain.

 

3. Identify Your First Step

Now, it’s time to get to fixing. Recovering from a professional mistake—especially if it’s a big one—can feel overwhelming. So, rather than thinking about all of the steps you’ll have to take to bounce back, start by identifying your very first one.

 

What’s the one thing you need to do immediately in order to repair your blunder or fix an error? Do you need to send an email to someone? Do you need to undo a change you made?

 

Zone in on the most important and urgent thing you need to get taken care of, and then get it done. Taking that first step will address the high-pressure and time-pressing concerns, so that you can get those out of the way and continue taking steps to fix your mistake.

 

4. Continue Reparative Action

After you’ve checked that first step off your list, it’s time to figure out if there are additional things you need to take care of.

 

Do you need to send a company-wide email about the error? Do you need to redo a portion of a report or spreadsheet? Do you need to reschedule a meeting? Do you need to issue an apology to someone (that’s always important if your mistake significantly and negatively impacted someone else!)?

 

The steps you need to take to repair your error will vary greatly depending on your specific circumstances. But, it’s important that you identify the things you need to do to resolve your blunder—write them all down if you have to!—and then get moving on those items.

 

After that, you’ll also want to determine some actionable tactics for avoiding this same mistake in the future. Do you need to institute a new process for yourself or stick a post-it to your computer monitor? Find some things that will help you sidestep this error moving forward and you’ll be much better off.

 

After all, making a mistake once is understandable. But, continuing to make that same one over and over again? That will become frustrating fast.

 

5. Don’t Dwell

Making a mistake—no matter how big or small—is embarrassing. And, unfortunately, it can haunt you for a while.

 

But, this is important for you to remember: resist the urge to dwell on that experience. While you want to use it to improve moving forward, continuing to obsess over the “I wish I had done it this way…” or “If only I had…” scenarios will only drive you crazy and prevent you from moving on.

 

So, after you’ve fixed your mistake and put steps in place to avoid it in the future, take a deep breath and let it go. You’ll be much better off!

 

 

We’ve all made a mistake in our careers before! What did you do to repair a professional goof? Let me know in the comments!

Yes. Absolutely. You got it. No problem.

 

Sound familiar? Chances are, words and phrases like that fly out of your mouth all the time at work—whether you truly mean them or not.

 

We’re all somewhat conditioned to be people pleasers. We’re taught to be team players, to put ourselves out there, and to accept new opportunities that come our way. And, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a big fan of saying “yes”—especially when it comes to taking on a new project that challenges you.

 

However, that doesn’t change the fact that turning things down every now and then is necessary in your professional life—which can be deceivingly hard to pull off when you’ve become so used to saying “yes” to everything.

 

This is something that today’s “Dear Kat” reader struggles with:

 

“Dear Kat, I’m a quintessential ‘yes person’. Even when I know better than to agree, I catch that little word and a nod flying out before I even realize it. Saying ‘no’ seems so harsh to me, which means I stay far away from ever turning anything down. But, now I know I’m stretching myself way too thin. Do you have any tips to help me get better at saying ‘no’?”

 

You’re not alone in this challenge—I’m sure nearly every person reading this can relate. In fact, even I struggle with rejecting people or opportunities on a frequent basis (and, hey, I dish this advice out for living!).

 

But, with all of that said, there are definitely a few things you can do to get better at turning things down. Here’s what you need to know.

 

1. Understand Your Priorities

Sometimes it’s not an issue of knowing how to say “no”—it’s an issue of knowing when to say it.

 

This is why it’s important that you start by getting a solid handle on your goals and your priorities. When you get a request to attend a meeting or take on additional work, for example, you’ll know if that falls in line with your priorities or would only ultimately distract from what you’re aiming to accomplish.

 

Sit down and create a list if you have to. Just do what you can to get a good grasp on what your top priorities are. As a result, knowing exactly when to give things a pass will be that much easier.

 

2. Use “Future You” as a Motivator

How many times have you agreed to something, only to regret it almost instantly? If you’re like most people, this probably happens on a frequent basis.

 

Here’s a trick to help you: When you’re considering saying “yes”, take a minute to think about “future you”.

 

Taking on that additional work might seem like a good idea in the heat of the moment. But, when you pause to picture “future you”—who’s stressed out, frazzled, and has far too many commitments—you might feel more inclined to give yourself a reality check, turn that opportunity down, and preserve your sanity.

 

I’ll admit that it can be tough to connect your present state with the future—science even says so. However, the more you can think about how your answer will not only impact you today, but tomorrow as well, will help you reject things when it’s really necessary.

 

3. Start Small

Alright, so the thought of saying “no” still makes you uncomfortable. Rather than telling yourself that you need to jump right in and start by passing on a major, earth-shattering, and life-changing request, dip your toes in by turning down something small.

 

Perhaps you finally tell your colleagues you can’t join them for lunch because you have too much on your plate. Or, maybe you tell your boss that the deadline she requested is a little too tight and you’d like to extend it by a few days.

 

Start small, and you’ll start to feel more and more accustomed to not saying “yes” to every little thing. Soon enough, you’ll have the confidence to turn down those bigger things!

 

4. Resist the Urge to Apologize

How many times have you prefaced a rejection with “I’m sorry”?

 

I’m sorry, but I can’t. I’m sorry, but I’m too busy. I’m sorry, but that’s not my area of expertise.

 

It’s a completely natural thing to do. And, sure, sometimes a casual “sorry” can help to cushion the blow a little bit. But, ultimately, you don’t have anything to be sorry for.

 

Saying “no” is perceived as such a negative thing. However, it’s really not. In fact, you could argue that it could actually be viewed as a positive.

 

Saying ‘no’ is not the equivalent of flipping a giant middle finger. It's quite the opposite,” explains writer Scott Fetters in one of his posts, “It shows you have a vision, a plan, and an opinion. By clearly articulating your needs, challenges, or deadlines (in advance if possible) you begin to eliminate distractions. In turn, you stop feeling inclined to people please because you have defined a game-plan.”

 

Long story short, don’t feel like you need to start your rejection with an apology. It’s really not necessary.

 

When we’re all taught to be collaborative, helpful, and to occasionally “take one for the team”, knowing how to say “no” can be a challenge. However, it’s also a necessary skill—unless you want to end up stressed out and over-committed.


Put these four tips to work, and you’re sure to find it at least a little bit easier to turn things down!

No matter who you are, you probably want to be taken seriously in the office. After all, you know you have valuable insights and contributions to offer, and you want them to be listened to with the respect and attention that you deserve.

 

However, you can’t just expect to command the room’s attention just by simply opening your mouth. Respect is something that’s earned, not just given—particularly if you’re a woman in a male-dominated field.

 

This is exactly where this week’s “Dear Kat” question comes into play:

 

“Dear Kat, I know the importance of speaking up and making my voice heard in team meetings. But, here’s the problem: Whenever I share an idea or a suggestion, I can tell nobody really gives it any serious consideration. Do you have any tips to help me be taken more seriously at work?”

 

Well, you already have the first step conquered: Realizing that if you want to be taken seriously, it’s up to you to make that happen. It’s easy to blame a lack of respect and attention on other people (and, sometimes that’s justified). But, when it comes to commanding respect, the ball is largely in your court. Here are a few tips that will help!

 

1. Have Confidence

First comes the most important part: Proving that you’re worthy of respect. Easier said than done, right? However, all this really involves is taking a deep breath before you start speaking so that you can communicate clearly and with confidence.

 

Combine that with the other tips below and you’re sure to command the attention of the room. Respect yourself, and others will be much more likely to follow suit.

 

2. Avoid Qualifiers

“This is probably a bad idea, but…”

 

Have you started a suggestion with a phrase like that before? We all have. But, all you’re really accomplishing is shooting down your own idea before you even pitch it.

 

Whether you have the tendency to say things like, “I’m no expert…” or even, “This might be crazy…” before making a suggestion, make your best effort to cut out the qualifiers. If you don’t have confidence in your own ideas, how can you expect others to?

 

3. Make Eye Contact

Think of the last time you were engaged in a conversation with someone, and he or she seemed to be talking directly to the floor. Did you give serious consideration to what that person was saying? Did you value his or her insights? Or, did you write him or her off as unconfident and perhaps even incompetent?

 

Eye contact is so important in conversations. It displays a high level of confidence, and also sends the message that you’re engaged in the discussion. So, as uncomfortable as it might make you feel at first, maintain eye contact with your conversational partner. It can make all the difference!

 

4. Accept Compliments

Somebody compliments you on the piece of the project you completed. Instead of graciously accepting that praise, you refute it with a comment like, “Oh, it was nothing!” or even, “Ugh, I wish it had turned out better!”

 

I can understand your efforts to avoid looking like an egomaniac. But, you don’t need to flat out argue with people’s compliments in order to do so.

 

Instead, thank them for their recognition and then pay a genuine compliment in return. There’s really no point in disagreeing with someone’s praise, and it’ll ultimately only make you look even more insecure.

 

5. Beware the Pitch of Your Voice

Women in particular have the tendency to raise the pitch of their voices at the end of the sentences—making them sound as if they’re asking a question, rather than making a statement.

 

It often happens totally subconsciously. But, challenge yourself to pay attention to how you’re speaking. Avoiding the trap of raising the pitch of your voice will make you sound that much more confident when making an assertion—resulting in a greater amount of respect from your colleagues.

 

6. Stand Up for Yourself

While most people demonstrate a certain level of common courtesy in the workplace, occasionally you’ll come across someone who’s nothing short of condescending and blatantly rude.

 

In certain situations, you might determine that the best thing to do is just let it go. But, if you’re being repeatedly disrespected? Don’t hesitate to stand up for yourself. Nobody deserves to be offended, insulted, or put down in the office. And, if you are? Speaking up is a surefire way to command the treatment you deserve.


Everybody wants to be taken seriously. But, it’s not something that’s going to happen by closing your eyes and clicking your heels together. Use these six key tips, and you’re much more likely to make your voice and your ideas heard.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” You’ve likely heard that Aristotle quote before. And, it holds some water.

 

More than likely, you appreciate that entree without thinking about each individual ingredient that went into it. Or, you admire that sports car without thinking about all of the different components that manage to make it run.

 

But, let’s face it—even if they don’t often get the individual attention and praise they deserve, the singular parts are still important. After all, that sports car isn’t quite as impressive without that crisp red paint job or that upgraded engine.

 

This same concept holds true in the drilling industry. And, what’s one of the parts that—while you may not think of it often—is still undeniably important? Manhole covers.

Identifying a Need

After recognizing a major need in the drilling industry, Jeff Garby and his partner Carlos Lima took the leap into entrepreneurship to start Alucast Industries in Canada, which manufactures environmentally-friendly manhole covers—the kinds that come into contact with different contaminants at places like gas stations and drilling sites.

 

“Issues unscrewing the bolts, we couldn’t remove the cover, gaskets would rip, the skirt would break,” Garby explains of his previous experience with manhole covers, “We had daily issues with bad products. I think this always stuck with us and the stars aligned one day. We said jokingly that we would design a manhole cover that everyone would love.”

A Better Manhole Cover

And, that’s exactly what they did. Garby and Lima started with international market research with drillers and engineering firms to hit on some of the main complaints and pain points involved with the existing manhole covers. “Funny enough, of the 10 countries we did market research in, 90% of the complaints were the same,” he adds.

 

From there, Alucast took a grassroots approach to marketing. “We connected with drillers and engineering firms globally and started listening. We joined many of the drilling communities and asked more questions. We have drilling backgrounds, so we found it easy to fit in with this culture.”

 

Alucast also leveraged social media to spread the word about their better alternative to the existing manhole covers of the oil industry. This more organic approach was their goal all along. “We decided from the beginning that we would let the drillers and engineering firms learn about our products and what they bring to our industry, instead of trying to sell our products to distributors,” Garby explains.

 

With such an innovative product that addresses an obvious need, Alucast is growing. “Demand for our product is high and global, so we are expanding our market share to Australia, the US, and the UK by the end of the year,” he adds.

Making a Difference

There’s no doubt, Garby and his Alucast team have a lot to look forward to. But, their agendas are never too busy to help out others—including making a big difference for one of our own Pink Petro Members, Tina Peters. In fact, Alucast sponsored Tina's recent trip to HERWorld Energy Forum in Houston, TX.

 

Garby and Peters met through social media. “We enjoyed the information Tina was providing about the industry standards and issues, and she appreciated the specialized information we provided to the drilling industry,” Garby says, “Tina seems very passionate, and two passionate people get along great together.”

 

“Sometimes life offers you the opportunity to meet wonderful people,” he adds “And, with Tina, we didn’t let that opportunity slip by.”

 

Garby and Alucast believe so strongly in the value that Peters brings to the energy industry, that they made the decision to sponsor her trip to HERWorld, so that she could offer her voice and expertise as a panelist at the event.

 

“We believe Tina has a voice in this industry and should have the opportunity to offer her great perspectives to the Pink Petro audience,” Garby concludes, “We wanted to help her out as much as we could to ensure she could be present at this event. Tina is a wonderful woman, a very caring human being, and sometimes that just inspires you to do great things for great people.”

“It’s not always what you know, but who you know.”

 

Are you sick of hearing that age-old sentiment yet? I can’t blame you. Sure, it’s helpful if you have a huge network of professional contacts at your disposal who are willing and ready to put in a good word and help you land a job. But, if you don’t? Well, this advice is plain ol’ discouraging.

 

Today’s “Dear Kat” question is from a reader who has found herself in that exact boat:

 

“Dear Kat, I hear so much about the importance of having an ‘in’ at a company. I’ve been told that one connection alone can at least get you to the interview stage, which has proved to be challenging on my own. But, here’s the problem: I don’t have a lot of ‘ins’ at the companies I want to work for. Do you have any tips for finding one?”

 

It’s true—having a connection at a company that you want to work for can make all of the difference when you’re trying to wedge your foot in the door.

 

But, if you think you don’t have anyone who fits the bill in that regard, don’t count yourself out too early. There are a few things you can do to make that connection for yourself and (hopefully!) land an interview.

 

1. Ask Around

First things first, it’s important to determine if you really don’t have any connections you can lean on, or if you’re just assuming that to be true.

 

The best place it start is by talking about your career goals with your current network—including your family and friends. Sure, maybe you don’t know anyone who works at that company personally, but that doesn’t mean nobody in your network does.

 

Make sure to keep your connections in the loop on the places you’d love to work. While they probably can’t guarantee an “in” that would be willing to recommend you without ever having met you (people usually aren’t willing to stick their neck out for someone they don’t know!), you might be able to find someone to have a coffee chat with so that you can start forming a professional relationship!

 

The bottom line is this: Don’t write off your current network right away. You never know who they’re connected to!

 

2. Leverage LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another great place for you to turn when you’re searching for connections at a particular company. Of course, you’ll want to start by perusing your current network to see if anybody you’re already connected with is employed by the company you’re interested in.

 

If you find one? Great—reach out with a personalized message and a request to get together for a chat over coffee (you’re buying, of course!).

 

But, if not? Well, that’s just fine too—you’re just going to need to get a little more creative.

 

Second degree connections (those are people who are connected to the people that you’re already connected with) can also be useful. If you find one that seems suitable, see how you’re connected. If your mutual acquaintance is someone you know fairly well, don’t hesitate to reach out to that person to ask for an introduction!

 

Still no luck? Turn to some LinkedIn groups that you’re a part of. Is there anybody in those groups who works at the company you’re interested in that you could message? If so, striking up a conversation will be at least a little bit easier, as you already have some common ground.

 

By leveraging LinkedIn, there are plenty of ways you can get in touch with someone who works at your dream company. However, remember this: It’s going to take a little bit of time. LinkedIn is a tool for you to use to invest in building a relationship with that person. Sending a one-off message asking him or her to recommend you without ever meeting you is far too bold (and, ultimately, not smart).

 

3. Make Your Own “In”

So, let’s say you’ve gone through all of that and you still can’t find a decent connection to reach out to. Is now the time to throw up your hands and resign yourself to a life in that faceless pile of resumes on the hiring manager’s desk?

 

Not quite. It’s time to grab the reins and find your own “in”.

 

Yes, it definitely helps to have something in common—like a mutual connection, shared group, or even an alma mater—with someone you’re reaching out to. But, it’s definitely not a requirement.

 

If you find someone you think would be worth connecting with—by all means!—be a little bit aggressive and send an email or a friendly message to ask if you could get together for an informational interview.

 

Is it guaranteed to land you the job? Nope. But, it definitely can’t hurt, right?

 

An “in” at a company can be undeniably helpful. And, you might be surprised by the connections you have that could help you get your foot in the door!


Use these three tips to your advantage, and hopefully it’ll be just what you need to put your resume right at the top of the pile.

When you think of networking, it’s easy to think of name tags, free hors d'oeuvres, and awkward introductions. But, in today’s digital society, there are plenty of other ways to meet new people and grow your web of professional contacts.

 

What’s one of the best ways? LinkedIn.

 

It’s a great platform for making connections and finding like-minded professionals—as long as you know how to use it correctly. And, that’s exactly what today’s “Dear Kat” question is all about:

 

“Dear Kat, I’ve heard so much about the importance of using LinkedIn to grow my network and build my professional reputation. But, honestly, I’m not too familiar with how to use everything, and I’m worried about doing something that only makes me look bad. Do you have any tips for making the most of LinkedIn?”

 

This is a great question, and major kudos to you for being proactive and getting informed about the best ways to use the platform before just diving right in!

 

While there are plenty of LinkedIn critics out there (and, in all honesty, some of them bring up some pretty worthy points), I’m still a firm believer that it’s a useful—perhaps even necessary—tool to build a strong network and reputation. So, let’s cover some tips you can use to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of LinkedIn.

 

1. Maintain an Updated Profile

Would you go to an in-person networking event and spit out an outdated elevator pitch or pass out an old, inaccurate business card? Probably not. So, why would you let your LinkedIn profile collect those cobwebs?

 

Think of your profile like your online resume—which means you want to keep it as up to date as possible, so that you can ensure it always sets the right impression of who you are and what you’ve accomplished.

 

Reserve some time every couple of months (or even every month, if you can swing it!) to give your profile a quick once-over and update any information that is no longer current. That way, you can rest assured that anybody who decides to glance at your profile is getting the most accurate information about you and your career!

 

2. Keep it Professional

Yes, LinkedIn is a social network at its core. But, that doesn’t mean you’ll want to treat it like you do Facebook, for example.

 

LinkedIn goes so far as to define itself as a “professional network”, which means you should plan to keep all communications on the platform strictly professional. If you wouldn’t say it in front of your boss or your colleagues, don’t plan to post it on your profile.

 

While it’s a great idea to share updates frequently and show that you’re active and engaged in the space, you should avoid getting too personal with what you post. By all means, share news of your recent promotion or that cause you volunteer with. But, your photos from your latest vacation to Barbados? Those are better suited for Facebook.

 

3. Send Connection Requests

Let’s refer back to our analogy of being at an in-person networking event. Would it do you any good to grab your plate of cheese and crackers and then stand in the corner with your head down? Probably not. In order to make the most of networking, you need to be proactive.

 

If you meet somebody you’re interested in keeping in touch with? Make sure you connect with him or her on LinkedIn after the fact! If you’ve never actually met the person, but admire his or her work and would like to start a relationship? Send a connection request—and make sure that you personalize the message that goes along with it!

 

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to personalize the message for every single request you send—rather than relying on the form letter that LinkedIn auto-fills for you. This doesn’t need to be anything complicated (you have limited characters, after all!). But, make sure you explain who you are, what you do, and why you’re interested in connecting.

 

Just think—you wouldn’t march up to someone at an event, ask for their business card without introducing yourself, and then turn around and walk away, would you? You need to build some rapport first, and that same rule holds true on LinkedIn.

 

4. Join Groups

So, maybe you want to use LinkedIn to meet new people. But, you’re left with one big question: Where are you supposed to find these people? Doing random searches seem inefficient, and you want to be able to find professionals that you already have something in common with.

 

LinkedIn groups are a great way to do this. There are groups for almost everything—for professionals in your industry, people from your alma mater, or even people who share a common interest or passion.

 

Find a few groups that interest you and then engage in some conversations there. It’s the perfect way to meet some new people that you already share some common ground with!

 

5. Be Authentic

Yes, you want to put your best foot forward and establish a positive reputation on LinkedIn. But, that doesn’t mean you should be phony or disingenuous.

 

Much like on your traditional resume, don’t embellish or blatantly lie on your LinkedIn profile. That will only come back to bite you.

Additionally, when it comes to offering recommendations or endorsing other people’s skills, only do so for the people you’ve actually worked closely with—and thus, can truly speak to their skillset and experience.

 

Dishing out loads of half-hearted endorsements in the hopes of those people turning around and boosting your own skills will ultimately only make you look like a LinkedIn spammer. And, that’s not exactly the message you’re trying to send.


LinkedIn can be an invaluable tool for solidifying your professional reputation and growing your web of contacts—as long as you know how to use it effectively. Put these five tips to work for you, and you’re sure to use the platform to its full potential.

You’re sending out resume after resume. You’ve filled out so many online applications, you feel cross-eyed. You compulsively refresh your inbox day after day, and still there’s nothing but radio silence.

 

It’s frustrating, right? All you want is to land a job with an employer who will appreciate and value your skills and expertise. But, you’re not hearing anything back. And, if you ever do finally get a response? It’s usually one of those “Thanks, but no thanks,” form letters.

 

A job hunt that’s seemingly so fruitless and impersonal can be isolating, discouraging, and disheartening. However, know this much: You aren’t alone. Pretty much every job seeker has been there before—including the submitter of today’s “Dear Kat” question:

 

“Dear Kat, I’ve been putting my all into my job search, but it just keeps dragging on and on. I’m to the point where I feel like it will honestly never end. Do you have any tips for staying positive, even when my hunt for a job seems completely hopeless?”

 

First, I won’t deny that it can be tough to keep your chin up during a long job search. Constant rejections (or, worse, not hearing anything back at all!) can be a real blow to your ego. However, allowing yourself to spiral into a cycle of negativity won’t do you any favors in the end.

 

So, implement these four tips, and you’ll be able to keep moving forward—and eventually land a brand new gig!

 

1. Take a Moment to Vent

Staying positive doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to take a breath and recognize the fact that you’re frustrated. You’re discouraged (and you have every right to be!), and sweeping those feelings under the rug will likely only lead to a larger blowup later down the line.

 

So, go ahead and take an hour to vent to a friend or just be in a generally sour mood about your empty inbox or your latest rejection letter. Getting those negative emotions out will help you move on to the next steps with a clearer focus and a refreshed attitude.

 

2. Switch Up Your Approach

When your job search isn’t going well, it’s tempting to project all of the blame on the employers—after all, they’re the ones who don’t recognize what they’re missing out on, right?

 

However, it’s important that you also take some time to analyze your own approach and determine what you could do differently. You don’t want to keep doing the same things and expect different results.

 

Do you need to start tailoring your resume for every job you apply for (yes, that’s something you absolutely should be doing!). Do you need to brush up your LinkedIn profile? Do you need to write a more attention-grabbing cover letter?

 

Jot down some things that you could adjust in your job search, and then give it a go! It’ll give you a renewed focus and sense of excitement—and maybe even help you make some progress.

 

3. Get Out of the House

You’re throwing yourself wholeheartedly into your job search—which means you spend hours upon hours parked in front of your computer.

 

This might seem like a surefire way to be as productive as possible. But, in reality, you’re running the risk of burning yourself out and potentially even missing out on some other opportunities and beneficial connections.

 

You need to make a concerted effort to get yourself out of the house on a frequent basis. Join a book club, head out to a networking event, or sign up for an industry association. Taking a break from your computer monitor for a little bit will instantly boost your mood. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet (and what other connections and potential opportunities they have!) when you’re out and about.

 

4. Ask for Recommendations

A fruitless job search is enough to send your self-confidence plummeting to an entirely new low. So, it’s time to figure out how you can boost that back up again—while simultaneously benefitting your chances at employment.

 

The best way to do that? Ask for some recommendations! Whether you want to beef up your formal reference list or request some additional recommendations on your LinkedIn profile, asking the professional acquaintances that are in your corner to tout your skills and accomplishments is a surefire way to lift your spirits.

 

And, the best part? It also elevates your professional reputation—thus upping your chances of catching a hiring manager’s attention and finally landing a new job.


A long job search can be frustrating (and that’s putting it lightly). But, allowing a foul mood to overwhelm you will only slow you down in the end. So, take a deep breath and implement these four tips. You’ll be ready to pick your chin up, dust yourself off, and keeping moving forward in no time!

There are no ifs, ands, or butts about it: Rejection plain ol’ sucks. And, that fact rings true for absolutely everybody—even the people who seem to react like it doesn’t phase them in the slightest.

 

But, unfortunately, rejection is also an inevitable part of life—particularly your professional life. Whether you get turned down for the job you wanted, passed up on for that promotion, or are coping with a discouraging industry downturn, rejection is an unpleasant reality that you need to learn to deal with.

 

Deal with it? You and I both know that’s a lot easier said than done. That’s exactly where this week’s “Dear Kat” question comes into play:

 

“Dear Kat, I understand that rejection is a normal part of life and that it can even be something that you can learn from. But, as much as I hate to say it, I’m terrible at dealing with rejection. I always take it too personally. I really want to be able to swallow my pride and extract some value from that less-than-desirable situation. Do you have any tips?”

 

First of all, you’re right in describing rejection as a “less-than-desirable” situation. Ultimately, nobody enjoys getting that dreaded, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

 

Unfortunately, after you’ve been turned down, there isn’t a lot you can control about the actual situation. But, you can control how you react to it. So, here are a few tips to make the most of it and bounce back even better than before.

 

1. Take a Minute

It’s important that you realize that positively coping with rejection doesn’t mean you can’t recognize the fact that it sucks. Getting rejected stings—and nobody’s asking you to paste on a smile, bottle up your emotions, and pretend that getting shot down makes you feel great.

 

Instead, give yourself a minute to process. Take a deep breath and vent a little if you need to. Ultimately, keeping that frustration to yourself won’t do you any favors, and you’re entitled to the chance to press pause and pull yourself together.

 

2. Don’t Assign Blame

In pretty much any negative situation, it’s human nature to start pointing fingers and assigning blame—either to yourself or other people.

 

Maybe you’re beating yourself up into thinking that if you would’ve just answered that one interview question better, you would’ve been able to land the job. Or, maybe you’re placing blame on the company—who you’re now convinced was always planning on hiring internally.

 

However, playing the blame game won’t accomplish much in the end. So, resist the urge to assign fault to someone and instead move onto the next step.

 

3. Reflect and Analyze

You don’t want to point fingers. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a chance to reflect on the situation and determine what you could’ve done better.

 

Should you have been better prepared for that job interview? Should you have put in more work to prove that you’re ready for that promotion? Could you have done more research or communicated your goals better?

 

Regardless of your specific situation, make sure you give yourself adequate time to replay the circumstances and pinpoint some areas where you could improve.

 

Remember, this isn’t about replaying the blooper reel, highlighting your faults, and blaming yourself for your own misfortune—that’s not the point. Instead, your goal is to get a grasp on the things you could’ve done better so that you can use that information to improve in the future.

 

4. Make Changes

It’s not enough to just reflect on what you could’ve done better. You need to go the extra mile and put some steps into place to ensure that you actually implement those actions in the future.

 

Should you have sat down and practiced for that interview? Do that next time. Should you have done more thorough research into the company’s mission? Don’t skip that for your next job interview.

 

In some cases, there’s really nothing you could’ve done better. For whatever reason, things just didn’t work out in your favor (it happens to the best of us). If you find yourself in that boat, I know how frustrating it can be to feel so helpless. But, in those moments, your best bet is to move directly onto the final step.

 

5. Move On

Rejection is painful, and it can be tempting to hold a grudge. You promise yourself that you’ll never apply for a job with that company again, you’ll never put yourself out there for a promotion again, and so on and so forth.

 

But, ultimately, the only person that really hurts is you. So, after you’ve taken some time to process and vent a little frustration, it’s time to take a deep breath, let bygones be bygones, and just let it go.

 

Is that the easiest thing to do? I won’t lie—no, not always. But, you’ll be much better off if you can simply learn from the experience and then leave it in the past. After all, that’s where it belongs. You’re onto bigger and better things!

 

All of us struggle to accept rejection—it can be a brutal slap in the face. However, it’s also inevitable. So, the next time you find yourself in that frustrating spot, remember these five key tips. Put them into action, and you’ll bounce back even better than before!

“Your network is your net worth.” It’s a catchy saying you’ve probably heard before. And, yes, the sentiment holds some water. You know that your professional network is a key part of how you advance in your career and elevate your reputation.

 

But, what do you do if you feel like you don’t have much of an existing network behind you? Sure, you have a few contacts you’ve met over the years, but you wouldn’t quite consider it a full-blown “network”—and now you’re eager to build up a web of people that you can rely on for everything from advice to job leads.

 

This is exactly what today’s “Dear Kat” question covers:

 

“Dear Kat, I see so much advice about the importance of growing a professional network—and I get it. But, here’s my problem: I have no idea how to actually go about building my network. Talking to strangers can be awkward, and I’m not sure how to start forming relationships with these people. Any tips to share?”

 

First, rest assured that pretty much everybody (yes, even the most polished and self-assured people among us!) feels awkward about networking. It can often be a somewhat forced and unnatural exchange, which is enough to make anybody feel uneasy.

 

However, that doesn’t mean you can skip it altogether. Building, growing, and maintaining your professional network is still crucial—awkward or not. So, here are some tips that can help you do just that.

 

1. Change Your View

So many people have a very formal view of networking. In their minds, it’s a quick conversation (filled with a few inevitable and uncomfortable pauses and some uneasy sips of your cheap wine) when you need to spit out your elevator pitch, sell your skills, fork over your business card, and then move on.

 

But, networking doesn’t need to fit into this “speed dating” sort of mold. When you think about it, all it really involves is a conversation—and you can strike those up anywhere (no name tags or lukewarm chicken skewers required).

 

Don’t be afraid to flip the script and change your perspective of networking. Whether you want to attend a formal event or simply strike up a chat with someone in line at the grocery store, it all counts. You don’t need to be so hard on yourself by convincing yourself that only very specific situations qualify as “networking”.

 

2. Join Industry Groups

Joining groups is a great way to meet people in your same field or industry. And, considering the fact that they’ve already gone ahead and joined that group, you can assume that they’re open to making new connections too.

 

Do a quick search to find out what groups and associations exist that you could be a good fit with (hey, you’ve already done it—you’re part of Pink Petro!).

 

Whether it’s a national or international group that only corresponds online or a local chapter that meets in person, it’s an easy and natural way to connect with people that you already share some common ground with.

 

3. Get Out There

Of course, industry groups and associations are great. But, that’s not the only way you can find people who have similar interests or aspirations.

 

If you want to stick to sitting behind your computer, consider checking out relevant Twitter chats or LinkedIn groups that you can join. If you’re eager to get out there and shake some hands? Join a book club or a recreational sports team. Really, anywhere you can interact and discuss a common passion or topic is great!

 

The important part is to put yourself out there. You won’t meet new people if you don’t.

 

4. Know Your Colleagues

Yes, the main purpose of networking is to meet new people. But, sometimes it’s far too easy to get so focused on making external connections that we completely forget to get to know the people in our own office.

 

Don’t overlook the importance of networking with your own co-workers—whether you work closely with them or not. You’re already starting with something big in common (you work for the same place!), and your colleagues can be incredible connections now as well as when you move on from that company.

 

So, don’t neglect your own co-workers. Forming solid connections with them is ultimately just as important.

 

5. Follow Up

Imagine that you just met someone at a networking event or a conference. You two had a great discussion and exchanged business cards. Now what?

 

This is where so many people’s networking skills fall short. Remember, networking is about relationships—not one-off conversations. That means you need to put in the work to keep that connection warm, rather than letting it fizzle as soon as you both rip off those sticky name tags.

 

Put that business card to good use! Send an email letting that person know how much you enjoyed talking with him or her and that you’re looking forward to staying connected. You can also send a LinkedIn request (with a personalized message, of course!) to stay in touch on that platform.

 

Whatever you do, don’t assume that the simple act of shaking hands is enough to build your network. It involves a little more than that.

 

6. Keep in Touch

In a similar vein, you can’t look at networking as building a stockpile of contacts—you don’t just add endless people to your network and then let them collect dust.

 

While it’s important to reach out soon after meeting, you also need to make every effort to keep in touch with that person. Send the occasional email with an article you think she’d find interesting. Or, send along some well wishes when you see on LinkedIn that he moved to a new job or landed a promotion.

 

They’re little things that won’t require much elbow grease on your part. But, they’ll go a long way in making sure that you have a valuable network of real connections—rather than tons of people that you interacted with briefly only once.

 

A solid network is key. But, that doesn’t mean that building one is effortless. Fortunately, it’s something you can definitely handle—as long as you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort! Apply these six tips, and you’re sure to grow your own web of professional contacts.

Effective communication. You know it’s necessary in both your personal and your professional life. But, for many people, successfully and concisely getting a point across doesn’t exactly come naturally.

 

There are filler words and fidgety movements. There are nonverbal cues and intonation mistakes. And, on top of all of that, you also need to worry about proper word choice to ensure you’re making yourself as clear as possible.

 

So, it’s really no wonder that even the most confident people among us can struggle with presenting themselves as poised, polished, and professional when communicating in the workplace. Yes, communication might be basic, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

 

This is where today’s “Dear Kat” question comes into play:

 

“Dear Kat, I’ve been working hard to foster a positive professional reputation for myself. But, I feel like my communication skills—whether in the office, at a meeting, during a networking event, or any other professional function—could use some improvement. Do you have any tips for how I could instantly make myself a better communicator?”

 

This is a great question! And, pat yourself on the back for wanting to grab the reins and make progress in this area.

 

First things first, it’s important to remember that—since communicating is something you’ve been doing essentially your whole life—it’s going to be difficult for you to drastically improve things overnight. As with any other skill, it’ll involve an investment in energy and plenty of conscious thought to start undoing those habits you’ve formed over years of speaking.

 

But, with that said, there are a few simple things you can implement right away that are sure to take your communication skills up a notch.

 

1. Make Eye Contact

Can you picture a recent conversation when you were talking with someone, yet they couldn’t manage to tear their eyeballs away from their phone and pay attention to you? It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

 

In today’s digital-obsessed society, we all seem to have forgotten how to actually look at one another when we’re talking. But, unfortunately, this half hearted approach to communicating makes your conversational partner feel as if you’re never completely engaged in the discussion.

 

So, put down your phone or step away from your computer and actually maintain some direct eye contact with whoever you’re speaking with. It’s a seemingly small change, but you’ll be surprised by how big of an impact it can have.

 

2. Actually Listen

In a similar vein, it’s important for you to remember that communication doesn’t just refer to what you’re saying—it also involves listening. In fact, great communicators know that they should plan to listen even more than they speak.

 

It’s all too easy to confuse hearing with listening. However, if you’re actively involved in the conversation, that entails much more than simply waiting for your turn to speak up again.

 

Don’t just hear people—actually listen to them. That alone will lead to much better relationships and more productive conversations.

 

3. Remember to Breathe

When you’re nervous, your pulse quickens. And, unfortunately, the speed of your voice tends to go right along with it. Before you even realize what’s happening, you’re speeding through your entire spiel like someone’s holding down a “fast forward” button on your back.

 

That not only makes you look anxious, but it also means you’re difficult to listen to. So, when preparing to speak—whether it’s a formal presentation or voicing your opinion in a meeting—make a concerted effort to be conscious of your breathing patterns.

 

Being aware of when you need to pause to take a breath (trust me, breathing is important!) will help you to slow down your speech pattern in a way that feels a little more natural and comfortable to you.

 

 

4. Pay Attention to the Ends of Your Sentences

Women in particular have the tendency to raise the pitch of their voice at the end of their sentences. This subconscious habit makes it sound like you’re asking a question—even if you’re making a firm statement.

 

Needless to say, this is something you need to pay attention to when communicating. It’ll feel a little strange at first—and, honestly, you’re bound to slip up every now and then. But, give it your best shot.

 

After all, sounding like you’re asking for approval and permission when you’re really just sharing a fact undermines that confidence you’ve worked so hard to achieve in the workplace.

 

5. Practice

Those quick tips are bound to help you start taking steps in the right direction with your communication. But, remember, dramatically improving your skills is a commitment—there really aren’t any quick fixes or magic pills (I’ll let you know if I find any!).

 

So, dedicate yourself to the process and choose one small thing you can improve each week. Before you know it, you’ll be a master of strong communication.


Do you have any tips you use to help step up your communication game? Let me know!