Becoming Professional: A Blog

Archive for January 2010

Not that long ago, before the holidays, I had been sitting in a lovely downtown cafe studying online for my GREs. A middle aged man and his wife sat down at my table, and after a bit we started talking. Turned out he was a Marketing PhD, and he had a tip for me that I now share with you:

Search, Pump, and Sign Up

Okay, he didn’t put it as cryptically as I just did, but it boils down to:

  • Search for professional organizations where you can showcase and grow your talents, meet business leaders, and learn from them. Then go to a trial meeting by attending as a guest, if you’re not sure you are ready to pay the usually high member dues. Then…
  • Pump a few hands and network. Make connections while at this meeting. See if this professional organization is where you want to be. Does it offer you the opportunity to learn from your fellow attendees? Does it have interesting guest speakers? If it does…
  • Sign Up! Join the group and attend regularly. Become an active and integral member of the group. Learn from the successful people around you and see how you can be like them.

I attended my first American Marketing Association Meeting since college this past week. It was a great experience to meet and engage on equal footing with established businessmen and women, especially since I’m practically right out of college and so used to taking the student role. But how do you find these groups? I have found, and will possibly be joining, 3 others besides the AMA. I found them through a combination of:

  • Word of Mouth: I asked the gentleman and he gave me a few.
  • Google Search: Yes, Google is your friend.
  • Tie Overs from College: I had belonged to the AMA Collegiate Chapter, so I figured that that might be a good place to start.

Search, Pump, and Sign Up. Three simple steps that can get you out of the house and finding a mentor. They don’t just arrive–Plop!–on your desk. You have to find people to learn from them, so go out and find them. And if you are in Phoenix and a Marketer, join the AMA Phoenix Chapter. They’re a good crowd and it’s a good organization. If you’re not in Arizona, go on to the national website and find a chapter near you. It’s worth it. Hey, that’s the Search step done!

This week’s topic is what happens before and during the job interview. No, I’m not talking about resumes, and no, I’m not talking about finding the openings. Let’s assume you’ve done all that. This week, we’re discussing how to make that good impression.

Yup, we’re talking posture! And some other things.

According to the CollegeJournal, some studies say that body language, like posture, communicate 55% of a response, where verbal communication gets accross only 7% of it. Paralanguage, otherwise known as intonation, pauses, and sighs, give our responses 38% of their emphasis. What that means for you and me, innocent job hunters? Talking is good, but how you talk is more important.

Here’s a few things you can do to let your non-talking do the talking for you:

  • Look Professional: You want to act like a professional, so you have to look like one. Remember, it not only has to quack like a duck, it has to look like one, too, before we can say it’s a duck. For more info on this, check out my other blog posts here.
  • Sit Tall: Keep your back straight and show your focus on the interviewer by leaning slightly forward. Don’t go over-eager (like climbing on the table to get closer) but don’t sit back. Basically, stay alert and focused, and your body should do this for you.
  • Keep Your Gestures Small: Waving your arms about is probably not a good idea. Don’t fidget. It looks funy.
  • Don’t Make Funny Faces: According to this website some people go into interviews so intense they look like axe murderers. I doubt they get the job. Try to look calm and confident.
  • Look ‘Em in the Eye: Eye contact in America is important. It shows sincerity and honesty. If we were in Japan, I’d say don’t look the person in the eye. But this blog isn’t for Japan. If it were it would be in Japanese.
  • Don’t Pop Space Bubbles: People have different space bubles, so be careful not to interfere. As the Interviewee, it’s okay (and even expected) to bring a pad of paper and your portfolio, but don’t lay them out on the table in a way that threatens the interviewer’s space.
  • The Firm Handshake: Cliche but true, a firm handshake is important. eHow suggests you shake everyone’s hand, too. I might get a squeeze ball myself, to practice.

So next time you go into an interview keep these things in mind. Last thing you want is to look so intense that the interviewer thinks you’re a psycho killer and calls the cops. Though that might make for a good story, so it’s up to you.

Do you have any good stories about when you used nonverbal communication in a job interview or work situation? Or better yet, anything to add to my list?

Okay, I’d like for you to imagine you are a young woman. If your a man, bear with me. This can help you, too.

You are starting a new job. Perhaps you’ve been there for a while, but you’re still relatively new. You want to get into a task-force, and you need to do everything you can to make this happen. The man putting the task force together is middle-aged and going through his midlife crisis. You’ve done your homework, you know that he likes SCUBA and respects creativity. And that mid-life crisis. Today you know you will meet him, so you wear a low-cut blouse, right? Mid-life crisis. You want to be memorable, right?


Don’t you dare wear anything like that. It drops your credibility through the floor. According to a study performed by Tulane professor Arthur Brief and colleagues Suzanne Chan-Serafin, Jill Bradley and Marla Watkins that I saw here, though 49% of female MBA graduates (out of a pool of 164, so it’s not the best representative sample, but we’ll go with it) had tried to advance their careers through some form of sexual behavior. I’m not talking about giving out sexual favors. The examples used in the study were “crossing their legs provocatively or leaning over a table to let men look down their shirts.” Nothing terribly overt, right? It’s just nonverbally saying, “I’m a woman! Hey, woman over here!” Yeah, like that’s how you want to portray yourself.

Now, lets see how well this sexual behavior served our 49%.  According to this study, women who claimed to never have tried to advance their career through sexual behavior or to have engaged in this behavior at work had received about 3 promotions each. Women who had done these things, which again is not “sex for a raise” but even just wearing sexy clothes, had received around only 2 promotions each. Perhaps the last statistic rams it home. Non-sexy women earned on average between $75,000-$100,000. Sexy women earned $50,000-$75,000. There’s not even any overlap here.

I got another interesting idea from this survey. Perhaps the glass ceiling isn’t society’s fault. Perhaps its ours. If 49% of those female MBAs were engaging in sexual behavior at work, and the impact of such behavior is this negative, perhaps if we just all made an effort not to sexualize ourselves at work we would rise faster and farther up the corporate ladder? All I can think of is my elementary school bus. It started out where we could talk and have fun on the way to school, but some kids took it too far. They were loud and obnoxious, so the bus driver made a new rule: no talking above a whisper. If you did, he would report you, and you’d get a red light under your name. Big terrible punishment, I know, but we all shut up. Just because a few kids misbehaved, we all got held up to a microscope. Maybe its the same thing here. Just because a boss had one experience with a woman who sexualized herself, he has a poor opinion of all women, meaning we all have to work harder, even if we’re completely non-sexual at work. Maybe the glass ceiling is made by our own short skirts.

So pay attention to how you act and dress. And you men who have stuck with me, you do it, too. Just because women are the usual culprits doesn’t mean you guys are immune. Be professional, folks. It helps you make more money, and who doesn’t want that?

 Okay, I never rode on a bus like that, but it isn’t hard to imagine that happening is it?


I just wanted to tell everyone that I am out of town this week, so that was why there was no regular Saturday post. I will return for next week’s post, so please stand by!

Kate the Professional

I finally finished the book Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill. I read the updated version published in 2009. Over all review (for those of who who found this site looking for a general book review): 5 Stars.

Now, what I got out of it, though, was more than just what it says on the back cover of the book. Mr. Underhill discusses how he started out. Yup, very successful businessman telling the public how he started out–completely not new. However, since he’s a good writer, it’s actually enjoyable to read. Apparently, for instance, when his company Envirosell was just starting out, he would sleep in his rental car and wash up at the gass station before a sales meeting. Talk about dedication! He also talks about how he got into research, the types of people he looks for in employees, and how he got his company global… all useful lessons, I think, for someone who wants to do all that themselves.

Of course, I also learned a lot about how people shop and buy things. Unless you work in retail and at least marketing, you may think, “Why does this affect me? What could I get out of reading a book like that?” Besides the stuff I just mentioned, you can learn about the whole retail business segment, which affects managers as well as classic marketers and merchandisers. Plus, did I mention he’s a good writer? It’s actually a fun read!

I do have one complaint, though. His section on E-Commerce does leave a little lacking. He is very pro-brick and mortar. Which only makes sense. His entire business is about watching people in shops, so yeah, he’d be a bit biased. The Internet gets one chapter out of the 20 chapters in the book. But I’m not saying he is unfair to the ‘Net and makes it sound useless. He doesn’t. He points out a lot of the uses for the Internet and how it’s used. But he just scratches the surface. Still, I doubt you’d buy this book to learn how people shop online. There are other books for that.

End assessment: it’s a very good book. Every beginning marketer should read it so they have a basic grounding. It’s a famous book. You can bet that your boss has at least heard of it and is familiar with a lot of the issues it talks about. If you read it, you’ll sound like you know something, which is always a second best to actually knowing it.

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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