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The Candidate and the Piece of Trash


Robby

Recently I visited the offices of the Indianapolis Urban League to speak to a group of young professionals. They are interested in working to improve Central Indiana through a variety of initiatives, and wanted to learn more about networking.

I often give these presentations to jobseekers and other groups, and the conversation almost always takes an unexpected turn. This time, the discussion turned to reputation. In particular we chatted about the tiny actions one takes—often without even thinking—that impact how we are perceived by others.

Indianapolis
© Flickr User Cyndy Sims Parr

In the world of professional networking, these are mostly matters of etiquette. Do you listen before speaking, or do you interrupt? In a conversation, do you take notes or do you take out your phone to text your friends? And most importantly, do you follow up?

But one story struck me, which was about a woman who came in for a job interview. As she was walking down the hallway toward the interview room along with the hiring manager, she happened to see a piece of trash on the floor. Nonchalantly, the candidate gracefully picked it up without slowing down, and dropped it into a waste basket. It was as if she already had a sense of pride about the place, even as a visitor.

Years later, that story was part of the conversation about the woman. It was cited as the reason she got the job. Not because the position had anything to do with picking up trash, but because it was a reflection of her character.

Places like the Indianapolis Urban League are filled with people of sound character. They are working hard to make a difference in their community. And what’s best of all is that for many people there, doing so is natural. They deserve recognition for their work, but also for their frame of mind.

That’s reason enough to accept if anyone calls you for a networking meeting.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Tue, March 31 2015 » Corporate Culture, Ethics and Fraud

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