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Archive for January, 2014

As human beings, we always have a tendency to pop on our rose-colored glasses and talk about the “good old days.”

Remember the good old days, when pharmaceutical manufacturers were almost constantly growing and profitable? When expansion was the norm, not the exception? When a career arc was fairly secure unless you really fouled it up?

Now it’s all about lean. Entire sales forces drastically cut, or eliminated, or re-organized. Career people suddenly without careers. Downsizing sometimes feels more like capsizing.

We’re on a roller coaster these days, and with all the turmoil of the ever-shifting healthcare environment, that’s not changing anytime soon.

rollercoaster

So what is a pharmaceutical professional to do?

Do yourself a huge favor. Build your network. Build it now, even long before you end up looking for a new professional direction.

There is no corporate safety net. There is only your opportunity network.

I’ve given small and large workshops on professional network-building to industry audiences, and have also spoken to I don’t know how many dozens of colleagues in the industry who are having to re-assess their direction, usually unwillingly.

One very common regret – not pro-actively building a network ahead of time.

LinkedinUniversally, for our industry, I’ve pointed to LinkedIn as the best place to build your professional network. Don’t worry too much about Twitter and some of the other avenues (unless you’re deep into social media for other reasons). There are ways to be effective using LinkedIn that any intelligent person can employ without a huge investment of time.

This is where your colleagues are. You contacts outside the industry that should be cultivated. And probably, your next job.

If you’re in our industry, feel free to connect with me and let me know what you’re seeking to accomplish. I’ve built the Impactiviti network for you, not just me. We’re a bunch of us helping each other find what we need – not just optimal vendors, but new professional opportunities.

Get IN and let’s get started

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Training people to train other people is enough of a challenge, and it’s one that pharmaceutical T&D departments have taken on for many years.

But did you know that virtual facilitation – training at a distance using on-line video – has its own challenges? Here are five quick pointers on to help you fail at virtual training (don’t do them!):

#5 – SHOW A MESSY BACKGROUND

What message are you sending with that sloppy pile of folders and crumpled up paper? Let me give you a hint – it’s not ‘creative genius at work’. Whether they’re in a home office or corporate setting, people don’t spend enough time organizing the scene behind them. Turn on your web camera in advance to assess the entire picture. Clear away distractions, board-scribblings, or knick-knacks that might pull focus away from what you’re saying. And never, ever use a window as your backdrop.

#4 – DON’T BOTHER TO PREPARE

Watching unprepared presenters is bad enough when you’re in the same room and listeners are held captive. But if you don’t prepare your virtual presentation well enough to keep it interesting and moving quickly, there are plenty of distractions to keep your audience occupied. In fact, studies show that the number one participant activity during a webinar is checking email (actually watching the webinar comes in 2nd). After all, there’s no physical proximity to shame them into paying attention.

#3 – FORGET TO ADJUST CAMERA POSITION

I always get a kick out of video chatting with my parents. If I’m not looking up their noses, I’m talking to the ceiling. Camera position is critical. If your web cam isn’t at eye level, raise it (put a stack of books under a laptop, or use a tripod for a dedicated camera). And remember – if you’re not looking directly into that camera, you’re not making eye contact.

#2 – IGNORE PERSONAL APPEARANCE

We’re watching you – usually far more up close than we would in person.  I don’t want to see bits of your breakfast on your cheek. Nor do I want to see you sweat. Keep water beside you. Take deep breaths to relax. Brush on translucent powder to keep the shine off. If you don’t think this is important, watch Nixon’s first TV debate with JFK.

#1 – GET FLUSTERED BY MISTAKES

Between 60-90% of a message’s effect comes from non-verbal cues. That’s why video meetings are such a great business tool. Think of all you leave on the table if you’re not using the camera! However, since virtual presenting doesn’t come naturally to most, mistakes will happen. If you’re able to be self-deprecating or laugh at your blunders, your audience will relate to you, trust you, and soak up your wisdom.

virtual trainingFacilitating in front of a classroom is not the same as presenting or training “live” in front of a camera. As companies commit more and more resources to virtual meetings, but sure your employees are camera-ready!

What are some of the ups and downs you’ve discovered in your virtual efforts thus far?

Thanks to Amanda Bergen, Stage Harbor Communications, for these tips!

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