215: Be assertive and polite - with Peter Yawitz

Meet Peter Yawitz

Peter Yawitz is a management communication consultant helping individuals and groups at global companies communicate more effectively. His website someoneelsesdad.com has videos, an ask-dad column, and a podcast, giving tons of practical and humorous advice on how to manage life at work. His book, Flip-Flops & Microwaved Fish: Navigating the Dos & Don’ts of Workplace Culture, is full of advice and humor for young professionals and anyone else whose questions are rarely answered in the workplace.

So let's talk about your book little bit. Why did you write it and who exactly is it for?

It's for young professionals entering the workforce, but it's also for anyone who feels a little bit disenfranchised, going into a work and feeling they don't fit in. I just found that over the years people would start asking me questions that they were not getting answered from the HR department or of any kind of orientation session. And these were just things that no one had ever told them. And it could be something simple about, well, how do I construct an email? Or what should I do in the subject line? Or how does my tone come across? But then it got a little bit deeper. And people would say things like, well, what happens if you're talking to somebody at work? And that person is totally hot? Like, how do you focus?

So let's talk about the young professionals right now. Gen Z is officially entering the workforce. How would you recommend they start building a network now that they're just starting out?

So the first thing I would say to people who are starting out is chill, just chill a minute. I mean, it's nice to develop a network, but it's not necessarily the first thing you have to do when you start a job. Start your job and learn to do your job well and develop a little bit of credibility about what you do. And then once you've done that, then try to look for people just to get to know and to let people know what you're doing.

I'm sure you've been leveraging the digital space a bit to grow your audience, what's been the most effective social medium for you?

I say the most effective thing is hiring someone to do it for me. That's been the most important thing I would say. So I would rather provide content and have someone tell me where to put it or how to design it. So I know that I'm doing it in the best way.

Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?

I've had a lot of success with my alumni network. Who from my college, who from my grad school is around? Who is doing something interesting or working for a company that I want to target that I should just contact. You never know where things are going to come from. I would just say, don't be afraid to be assertive about what you're looking for. And just be polite about how you're doing it. 

How do you stay in front of or best nurture your network community?

I don't want to be so self promotional, I guess I'm more self promotional now because I've got a book to sell. So I will have a MailChimp list. So if there is an Ask Dad that I find interesting, I'll email it to those people. I also post on LinkedIn and use other social media. If it's interesting, I try not to jam it down people's throats, but I figure I'm only going to do something if it's a topic that I think a general population might be interested in.

Between digital networking and traditional networking, which one do you find more value in digital or or just traditional?

Definitely traditional. I think it's my generation. And I would rather have coffee with somebody and schedule an actual meeting because you get more done that way. But even if I'm trying to network with a junior person, or even let's say some of these young CEOs that I am trying to get on my podcasts, I will approach them first on email, but then I'd like to have a phone conversation. And if I can do something in person, I just find you develop relationships better. 

A lot of companies are really trying to embrace the work remote policies. So what is your opinion on that?

I think it's wonderful that companies are flexible about at home time. And I've had a lot of comments from people whose workplaces have changed from offices, to cubicles and now total open plans. I think the downside of a total virtual network is that you miss that human interaction of even the small talk or the water cooler talk or just to get people to really sense of what you can do besides just basic tasks.

Do you have any final words of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting their network?

I would, again, reiterate never be shy about this, people like connecting into networks and especially if there's a shared experience or shared people that it sort of gives you the imprimatur of acceptability. And that could be that you work at a certain place, or you worked in a certain industry or you went to a certain school, there are always some kind of shared affinity groups.

How to connect with Peter:

Website: https://www.peteryawitz.com/

Website: https://www.someoneelsesdad.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-yawitz/

Instagram, Twitter & YouTube: @someoneelsesdad