Fox News: Five New Year’s Career Tips for Millennials from Dana Perino

All right, young folks, it’s time for your annual five quick mentoring tips from someone who cares about your career: me!

This year’s advice is very practical.  While I still believe it’s important to try to find that elusive work-life balance and to be willing to move and take chances on a new city or field of work, here are a few things you can easily do to improve your chances for good performance reviews, promotions and raises in any job:

1. MORE THINKING, LESS FEELING. In email communications with supervisors and managers, do not use emoticons or multiple exclamation points. Stop being so emotional in emails. Your boss will be pleased to know you finished an assigned project before the deadline, so you don’t need to encourage her appraisal of you by using a smiley face or pictures of party hats.

In the same vein, do not use any exclamation points in the subject line unless there is a true emergency.  Exclamation points show a lack of control and they can give busy people a near heart attack when they see red exclamation points in their In Box.

Managers want people to be passionate yet calm and collected — unnecessary exclamation points say the opposite about you. They say you’re over-excitable and have little judgment as to what’s really important.  So just keep it straight.  Then, when you have a real emergency, they’ll take you seriously.

2. NEW EMAIL THREAD, NEW SUBJECT LINE. While we’re talking about email, please learn to use new subject lines when introducing new topics.

It is very confusing for the recipient to get an email about an event in July 2014 that is part of an email thread from days before about a client visit in March.

As a staffer, you’re expecting your manager to be able to read your mind.  And it appears lazy to use an old email thread to write about a new subject.

You want your boss to focus on the content of the message, not the poorly thought out format.

But with today’s distractedness, and all the different ways we’re communicating with one another, it’s easy for the recipient to get irritated with the confusion and focus on that instead of the needed response.

You should learn to write perfect subject lines that are descriptive. For example, supervisors like to know if an email needs a response and how much time it will take — so a good subject line would be, “Two quick things, one FYI.”  That way the recipient knows how to prioritize the reading and response of that email.

3. DON’T IRRITATE POTENTIAL MENTORS. Part of climbing the career ladder is finding good mentors. Good mentors are usually very busy people and it can be difficult to get on their schedule. It’s not that they don’t want to lend you a hand, it’s that they really need an extra hour in their workday to be able to give you the time and attention you deserve.

When you’re trying to schedule time with them, keep in mind how swamped they feel. And when they write back with a note that says they are not able to meet until 8:30 a.m. three weeks from today, never write “My, my aren’t you a busy bee!”  It is insulting and careless and really makes people mad. And there go the benefits of your meeting.

Before you ask for someone’s attention, think of the ways you might be able to get their thoughts without infringing on their time.  For example, if you know your boss is going to be traveling and has a long car ride from the airport to the client’s office, you might see if you can get on his call list while he waits at the airport before boarding or in the vehicle on the way to the client’s.

Another way is to think of how you might be able to get the information through email. So if you have three questions, ask for the time to meet or talk by phone but offer the option of response through email.  Emails can be written from anywhere — just make sure you write good questions that will get you answers you’re seeking.

4. START A WEEKEND READING FOLDER. Every mentor will tell a younger person to read more and watch less TV. There’s a reason they all have the same advice — they know it works for them.

There are different categories for what benefits your brain; for example, I love to read fiction at night.  It takes me away from the news of the day and the fake outrages on Twitter, and I get caught up in characters that I live with for a week or two while I work my way through a book.

In the morning I read news and analysis relevant to what we will be talking about on “The Five” or other Fox News shows that day.  But that leaves a whole bunch of stories in magazines or feature stories written for online publications that I know I would learn from but don’t have the time to devote to reading at that time.

So I started a “weekend reading” folder. Anything I see that I would like to read but can’t afford to spend time on then, I put in the weekend reading folder. Some of those articles I read online, but I also print some of them in an actual real life paper folder that I read through the weekend.  I end up getting to read all sorts of different things without feeling stressed because I couldn’t get to it immediately when I saw it.

5. DO YOUR OWN NETWORK AUDIT.  In all of the mentoring research, there’s a common thread — your network — who you know, your contacts — is the most important thing to being able to grow your career.

Do you have a clear picture or list of your network? I suggest doing a network audit – write down who do you know, what industries they work in, where they live, what jobs they’ve had or have that you’d like to have one day, etc.

Just as important, make a list of who you don’t you know and identify the holes in your network. Then assign a value to the contacts. How strong is your network?  Have you kept in touch with people, sent a handwritten note lately, followed them on Twitter?

Your network develops over time, but if you really want to make use of your network, you have to take care of it like you would a new houseplant.

Once you have your audit and see the weak points, then you can make a plan to improve those areas. Make sure your plan has deadlines —  this is too important to keep pressing the snooze button.

Bonus Tip:  Start accepting that there is no defined path to success. When you ask a mentor, “How can I have a career JUST like yours?” it’s no wonder they hesitate to answer.

Most people have had multiple jobs and started in one career and ended up, often by chance, in a field that they never expected to be in and found fulfilling work. They started by worked in minimum wage jobs and in food service or retail. They got yelled at by angry customers and wore uniforms that they wouldn’t be caught dead in outside of work.

Your success story isn’t written yet — so try just to do what you’re doing now, with some goals on the horizon, and don’t be so hard on yourself. I have a feeling that good things are in store for you in 2014.

By the way, in case you wanted to check back in on last year’s advice, here’s a link. Let me know how you did!

Dana Perino currently serves as co-host of FOX News Channel’s “The Five” (weekdays 5-6PM/ET). She previously served as Press Secretary for President George W. Bush. Ms. Perino joined the network in 2009 as a contributor.

Dana Perino Shares Her Lean In Story

By now, people all over the United States and across the world have heard about the wildly popular book, Lean In.  The book, written by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, was published in March of this year and, by April, had already sold more than 275,000 copies.  The book, according to its author, is focused on encouraging women to pursue their ambitions, and changing the conversation from what we can’t do to what we can do.

In the book, Sheryl provides many of her own experiences.  And the creation of LeanIn.Org was the next step.  Among it’s other offerings, LeanIn.Org is a unique platform for women and men to share their stories the way Sheryl did in her book.  ”Good stories,” LeanIn.Org says, “can inspire, teach and connect us.”

As of now, some 211,684 women and men have shared their stories on the site.  Today, Minute Mentoring® co-founder Dana Perino became one of them.

Check out her story of a time in her life when she “leaned in.”

Dana Perino: Five New Year’s resolutions for young career women

It’s almost a new year and that means it’s time for some suggested resolutions for young women starting their careers or making their way up the ladder.

I don’t believe in making 100 resolutions  – that’s overwhelming and counter-productive. But a handful of goals are achievable, so here are five things you can do that will contribute to your personal and career growth in 2013:

1. Get outta town

I love road trips. If you haven’t been on one in a while, it’s time to put a trip on your calendar. Driving can help clear the cobwebs of your mind, and you can learn a lot about your fellow Americans while you’re at it.

One of the things that helps when networking is to have the ability to talk about places you’ve been, where others also may have traveled or where they grew up. So, when you’re at one of those awkward networking events, for example, if you meet someone from Utah, you could say,  ”I once drove through Zion Canyon in Utah. It’s beautiful. What was it like to grow up there?”

People like to talk about their hometowns and their travels, and the more places you’ve been; the more likely you’ll be able to make a connection that can bring new business leads or career opportunities.

If you’re not sure where to go, take an informal survey from friends and co-workers to ask for the best recommendations.

I love to drive in the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota with Mount Rushmore as the central stop. The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee are also something to see. How about the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia or North Carolina?  Or a drive up the Maine Coast?  If you’re really ambitious and have some time, why not drive across the country on Highway 50?

This year, add a long weekend to your plans, or ditch the traditional beach vacation for a rental car, grab a friend or two, and hit the road.

2. Ask people for their book recommendations

One of the great joys in life is reading, yet it’s the main thing people say they don’t have time to do. There’s a way to change that — turn off your electronic devices a half-hour earlier than usual or ditch the music during your commute and listen to an audio book. You can also invest in some noise-canceling headphones to provide yourself some peace and quiet so you can read while on the bus or train.

I devour books, though I have a habit of sticking to my favorite genre (historical fiction).  So this past year I branched out a bit and read some novels and biographies I wouldn’t have chosen for myself. I asked a few friends about their favorite books and then I bought a few of those to try.

Some of them I really liked, though one was too violent for me and I had to set it aside after a restless sleep filled with nightmares about battles in northern Mexico in the 1800s (you know who you are).

The main benefit of this idea was to broaden my reading; however, it did something more. It gave me yet another way to start or join a conversation.  For example, one evening I was describing a scene from a book I was reading and a person I’d not yet spoken to at the party said, “Wait a minute — I read that!”  And then we bonded over that for a while, and even shared a list of our favorite books.

It’s easy to keep a list on your mobile device of books you hear and want to read at some point — my list is getting really long!

3. Stop saying “like”

We all have verbal tics we use in everyday conversation, and that often bleeds into work.  The most abused word is “like.” Young women grow up saying it all the time, so much so that they don’t even realize they’re saying it.  But their bosses and clients notice, and they don’t, er, like it.

The good news is this habit can be broken. All it takes is a commitment to recognize that you say it a lot, and then to stop yourself and pause. In fact, if you take out the “likes” you don’t need to fill that space with any other words.

If you have a good friend or co-worker, let them know that you’re trying to break the habit — and see if they’ll help you by giving you “the look” or raising a finger when they hear you say it.

You’d be surprised how easy it is to let that verbal security blanket go, and it could do wonders for your career. Supervisors want to elevate people who can communicate well, especially if they expect the employee to interact with customers and clients.

Why not give them every reason to promote you?

4. Send two good news emails a week

Email has become a burden — there’s too much of it and takes too much time to manage. Checking for new mail used to be exciting, but now it’s a drag.  However, email is here to stay; in fact, most young people can’t imagine how anyone ever did their jobs without it.

So how could you stand out in a crowded Inbox? Try sending two good news/nice emails a week, a “just because” note. These can be short messages that are just meant to bring a smile, and ones that don’t require a response.

For example, what about complimenting someone on their presentation — especially if you don’t think anyone else did? You could say, “Hey, Jane, just wanted to let you know it was fun watching you hit those balls out of the park today. I admire how you anticipated every question and how your personality shone through.”

Or, “This article reminded me of you — I remember you said you grew up out West. It sure sounds like a wonderful place.”

You won’t believe how getting a message like that can make someone’s day and how memorable they are. And don’t send “just because” notes to the bosses — send one to colleagues and friends you’ve not talked to in a while. It’s a great way to keep up your contacts, and it just might be the most efficient, productive and rewarding thing you do this year.

5. Surprise someone with a hello

One of the best things to do in a day is to surprise someone by saying hello to them.  Think of all the people you walk by in a day that are quietly going about their work and they are hardly ever recognized with a greeting.

I love to startle someone as I’m walking by with a “Good morning!” or a “Hi! How are you?” The smiles in return are worth the effort.  It’s one of the best ways to remember that we’re only here for a short period of time, and walking with our eyes cast down means we’re missing out on a lot of the good stuff life has to offer.

Once you start doing this, you’ll see just how many people aren’t shown a kind gesture while they’re working. You can be a bright spot in someone’s day just by recognizing them. It also gets you out of your rut and is the one investment that comes with guaranteed returns.

And there you have it.  See… it’s easy! Five resolutions for a great new year. Happy 2013!