Monday, October 30, 2006

Networking, networking, networking

I ran a workshop for a client on networking last week, so I thought I'd share a few more thoughts on the topic.

I think everyone should network. But the type of networking you should engage in depends entirely on your goals.

Say you are an entrepreneur and looking to start up your own business. You want to learn and perhaps talk to suppliers and competitors, industry commentators, potential customers, and perhaps even possible investors. If so, it makes good sense to network widely, to meet just about anyone and everybody to learn more about the sector you want to enter. To meet lots and lots of people in a fairly superficial way in order to get a snapshot of the industry.

But if you are networking for business development (i.e. selling) purposes, then effective networking is about building a smaller set of deep individual relationships rather than developing a large number of superficial contacts.

So what's your goal when you network?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Meetings, meetings, meetings

Don't you just love meetings?


Of course most of us hate meetings. Especially the kind that drag on and on and make you want to strangle your colleagues, run round the room screaming, and throw yourself (or them) out of the window. But then, you might ask, is there any other kind?

Having a meeting is like walking a dog: it'll go for as long as you let it. So make sure you keep your meetings on a short leash. Schedule something else to bring the meeting to a close. Perhaps you have a client phone call you have to take. Maybe you have to get back to your desk to get a proposal out by noon. Or you said you would brief the sales manager at 2 o'clock.

Your next task need not be true - just believable...

If you want some more thoughts on bailing out of tedious meetings, a journalist once interviewed me (amongst other experts) on the issue - you can find it on the mansized website.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Improve your memory (part 2)

Processing information can help us memorise it. But there are other ways to help you remember information too.

One of the problems we often have with memory is that we often focus on shoving more information into our heads, and don't spend enough time practising recalling it. So help yourself to remember information by retrieving it after you have tried to memorise it.

Let's take an example: Trying to remember someone's name. When you get introduced to them, you should say their name out loud immediately, perhaps 'Good to meet you Jane' or 'Hello David, I'm Rob.' Then try to use their name within the next 30 seconds: 'How long have you worked here Jane?' And again within the next 30 minutes: 'That's a good point Jane.' If you want to remember their name for the next time you meet them, practise recalling their name at the end of the day. Try to picture in your mind's eye the meeting room and then speak out loud the names of the people you met there. The more you practise dragging someone's name out from your memory, the better your chances will be of remembering it for months and years to come.

The same goes for trying to learn information for an exam. If you have crammed information into your brain in the morning, try writing it out again in the afternoon. Then look back at your notes and review what you missed out or got wrong. Then do the same the next day. Perhaps leave it a few days, then do it again.

In memorising information - whether it is names or your studies - focus not only on inputting information, but also its retrieval.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Rules of Office Politics

Office politics is the game that is played in just about every organisation out there - but so rarely talked about.

To be 'political' is almost always seen as a bad thing. You might be thinking that office politics involves skulking and scheming, colluding and conniving. And it’s true that a lot of that goes on. But that doesn’t mean that all politicking at work is automatically bad. Understanding the rules of politics can help you achieve outcomes that are beneficial for the organisation and in an ethical fashion too.

But I think that unless you are not at least aware of politics within your organisation, you will not succeed. Being politically savvy is nothing more than recognising the politics within your organisation, reading people, and learning to build relationships with them.

Anyway, my next book is published next week. And in the run-up to its publication, I've managed to get some good press coverage for the book. The book had quite a lengthy write-up in the Sunday Times, so you can read all about it there.

You can read the full article

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Rules of Entrepreneurship

Okay, I admit it doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. But I'm writing a book called The Rules of Entrepreneurship at the moment. I signed the contract a few months ago (but haven't started writing it - shhh! Don't tell my publisher!)

The book won't be out until autumn 2007 but my publisher just emailed across the cover for the book. And here it is.

The book's going to cover the process of setting up your own business, whether it's a small restaurant or consultancy up to the kind of big businesses that need private investors or venture capital.

There are plenty of books that take you through the practical aspects of setting up your own venture – from opening a business bank account and keeping track of your finances to calculating your tax bills – but this book won't be one of them. Because businesses don’t succeed or fail based on whether you pick the right bank account.

This book will be about the spirit of entrepreneurship – the stuff that truly distinguishes successful entrepreneurs from wannabes and failures. Look at successful entrepreneurs in the world today such as Michael Dell, Donald Trump, Richard Branson, and Li Ka Shing. They grew their businesses by identifying opportunities and persisting in the face of adversity, selling ideas and brokering deals, inspiring their employees and engaging their customers.So I'm going to focus on that kind of stuff and help readers to succeed.

As I said, the book won't be out until late 2007 - but watch this space for snippets of information as I put the book together!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A little bit about Dr Rob

I posted a proper showreel featuring clips from my earlier TV shows Who Would Hire You? and How To Get Your Dream Job before. But here's a 40-second clip from Jade's PA, my most recent show - if you fancy taking a glimpse into my world and understanding a bit more about what I do!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Liar, liar

Psychologists are often asked to help the police detect liars. And, contrary to what some so-called experts say, there is no reliable way to detect lies from just eye movements or whether you touch your nose or anything like that.

However, here's an interesting bit of research for you. Police officers instructed to pick out 'who you believe is thinking hard' tended to spot liars versus truth-tellers more accurately than when they were asked to spot 'who you think is lying'.

And, if you want to put the pressure on, then increase the cognitive demand for the person you think is lying. A study by Professor Aldert Vrij at the University of Portsmouth found that it's easier to spot liars when you ask them to recite the elements of their story in reverse order than in normal order.

So there you have it. Look for someone who is thinking hard. And if you think they are thinking hard, get them to tell you their (alleged?) tale again - backwards.

Happy lie spotting!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dr Rob on TV

The press onslaught continues and - thankfully - the reviews of preview copies of the first episode of the TV show I've been involved in have been pretty positive so far.

I'm sure that some of the critics will be sharpening their knives once the first episode has been broadcast. But I'm familiar with how they work. Their job is to be incisive and critical. If they love everything, no one will want to read their columns. So it's their job to hate some stuff. And programmes such as ours that are mainstream and popular (as opposed to being arty, high-brow or ) are bound to raise the hackles of critics.

I think the press photo is pretty funny. There's Jade posing in the middle - the consummate media professional. There's me on the left, laughing at Jade. And Hollywood PA Heather Howard is too caught up in taking notes in preparation for interviewing the first candidates to even notice that the press photographer is in the room!

Oh, and if you have difficulty making out the small print of the pages from TV guides that I've uploaded, then hover your cursor over them and click them. It should enlarge them.

And don't forget - 10pm, Monday 9th October - that's just a handful of days' time!!

Anyway, if anyone out there does get to watch the programme, leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Good and bad comments welcome!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The business psychologist and the Big Brother celebrity (a rejoinder)

Okay, so I thought I wouldn't be writing any more about Jade's PA, the TV programme I've been helping to present. But I couldn't resist.

Like a little boy with a new toy, I just got all excited and couldn't help myself!

The press onslaught launching the programme has started - and here's one of the print posters for it. The idea is that the prospective candidates who want to work for Jade are so desperate to work for her that they're willing to blow each other up, shoot each other, maim and generally stab each other in the back to get what they want.

The programme starts next Monday 9th October at 10pm on Living TV. Plug, plug, plug!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What to call my column!?

I suggested the idea a while ago, but the folks at Accountancy magazine have finally taken me up on my offer and are giving me my own monthly column. The magazine goes out to 145,000 members apparently - ranging from student accountants to experienced finance directors and ex-finance people who have since moved into general management - so it's a great opportunity for me to put across some of the principles and practice of psychology at work.

Only thing is, we don't know what to call the column. The suggestions so far include:

  • Yeung at heart
  • Management Muse
  • Dr Job
Can you come up with anything better? Please - can somebody help?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Improve your memory (part 1)

As a business psychologist, I meet lots of people. I meet new clients in big companies and small organisations, and at conferences and networking events all the time. But I have to confess that I'm not very good at remembering people's names.

Which is a shame as I'm a psychologist and know exactly what techniques I should be using to improve my memory!

So I thought I'd start to share some of the techniques that research shows us can help to improve our memories.

One of the best techniques is to process names and start making links from a name to other information we have in our brain. The more you think about a name, the more likely you are to remember it.

For example, if you are meeting someone called Nick, you might summon up a mental image of yourself shaving and giving yourself a shaving nick - a small cut. To further encourage remembering his name, you might think that it sounds like a pick. Then you might summon up the mental image of a pick-axe in your head. And that it sounds like a tick - so see yourself drawing a big tick on a piece of paper in your mind's eye. And so on. The more links and cues you use to process a name mentally, the better you will get at remembering it.

Trust me, I'm a psychologist. So just go try it.