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How to open doors in your career through networking

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Rebecca Leder, a senior manager at Salesforce, shares her ‘knock’ method for cultivating professional relationships.

Networking is often described as one of the most important parts of career progression, but what’s the best way to navigate it? Rebecca Leder, senior manager for customer success at Salesforce, recently wrote a book on the topic.

Leder has spent her 12-plus years in marketing so far honing a five-step plan she calls the ‘knock’ method. Here, she shares some of its key points and explains why professional relationships don’t always have to be transactional.

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‘Always focus on the other person or company and what you can contribute to a relationship with them’
– REBECCA LEDER

How does the knock method work for networking?

The knock method is a five-step methodology and guide to building high-quality career relationships. The idea is that when we ‘knock’ thoughtfully and intentionally on others’ doors – in other words, prepare to connect with individuals in our careers – opportunities will knock for all of us.

The research says that high-quality, mutually beneficial and long-lasting relationships – even in our careers – are good for our mental and physical health. And they don’t just lead to jobs, but contribute to enhanced productivity, amplify impact and create positive change in our teams, organisations, communities and our world.

The first letter of the five steps spell ‘knock’:

  • Know my topic, my contact, and specifics up front – research and prepare to connect
  • Not about me – be other-centred, focus on what we can do together to create an impact
  • Own it – bring authenticity to relationships and invest in relationships and opportunities up front
  • Commonality – bringing shared interests and backgrounds to the forefront builds trust and opens the door
  • Keep giving – practise generosity and gratitude and help others, even as you develop your own career
How can we go about networking now in a virtual world?

You spend the time to prepare, researching the people, company and opportunities you want to explore. Research can help you filter out the individuals and opportunities that would not be worth anyone’s time.

Once you know your topic and your contact (or company), you should know what you have in common with them and what value you can bring to them, and what you’d like to discuss that would benefit them. Bring your unique experiences to the forefront and demonstrate you’ve put the work in up front, but always focus on the other person or company and what you can contribute to a relationship with them.

Lastly, be generous. Offer ideas and resources based on what their needs are. Fill their gaps and solve problems for them.

In the knock method, you mention ‘other-centredness’. Can you explain what that means?

Other-centeredness is about shifting focus off of yourself and onto others using an outward-focused lens. When connecting with someone in your career, you could say something like, ‘I’m interested in working for your company because I like finance and I noticed an open position.’

Or, you could say, ‘As a leader in the fintech industry, I noticed your company not only values profitability and innovation, but also the wellbeing of your employees, as evident by your recent article in [X publication] on the recent change to your paid time off policy. Wellbeing is one of my values too and I’m looking to bring my three years of experience to your company because I’m great at balancing aggressive deadlines while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.’

Notice that you’re focused on the company, its goals and its values. You invested in the relationship, showing you researched and read about them in a specific publication, and you’re bringing contributions to help them achieve their goals and align with their values. It’s more about them than it is you.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about successful networking during your career?

I like to say, create an experience, not an exchange. When cultivating mutually beneficial career relationships – whether with a mentor, a colleague or a client – find ways to partner and help each other.

Create something together – an experience – rather than just an exchange of talent and time. Rather than slipping someone your business card for a hopeful future sale, find out what their interests are, what problems they’re currently trying to solve, and uncover ways you can help.

An experience comes with more well-rounded feelings, such as excitement, friendship, care, interest in the other person and curiosity, and leads to future opportunities, whereas exchanges feel transactional and fall flat.

With transactional exchanges, when it’s over, the door pretty much closes. It could be opened again later, but there’s less feeling and mutual value behind it, so it’s short-lived and, therefore, less valuable for all.

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Google becomes latest tech firm to delay reopening as Delta variant spreads | Google

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Google has backtracked on plans to welcome most workers back to its sprawling campus in September, becoming the latest Silicon Valley company to delay reopening amid a surge in Covid cases.

The company announced Wednesday it is postponing a return to the office until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone who returns in person to be vaccinated.

The decision sees Google join Apple and Netflix in postponing calling employees back to the office due to concerns about the highly transmissible Delta variant, which now accounts for more than 80% of new cases in the US. Twitter also halted reopening plans and closed offices last week due to the Delta variant.

In an email to Google’s more than 130,000 employees worldwide, chief executive officer Sundar Pichai said the company is now aiming to have most of its workforce back to its offices beginning 18 October instead of its previous target date of 1 September.

Google’s delay also affects tens of thousands of contractors who Google intends to continue to pay while access to its campuses remains limited.

“This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it,” Pichai wrote. This marks the third time Google has pushed back the date for fully reopening its offices.

Pichai said that once offices are fully reopened, everyone working there will have to be vaccinated. The requirement will be first imposed at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, and other US offices, before being extended to the more than 40 other countries where Google operates.

Facebook announced a similar policy on Wednesday, saying it will make vaccines mandatory for US employees who work in offices. Apple is reportedly also considering requiring vaccines.

“This is the stuff that needs to be done, because otherwise we are endangering workers and their families,” said Dr Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University and a former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore. “It is not fair to parents to be expected to come back to work and sit shoulder-to-shoulder with unvaccinated people who could be carrying a potentially deadly virus.”

Because children under the age of 12 aren’t currently eligible to be vaccinated, parents can bring the virus home to them from the office if they are around unvaccinated colleagues, Wen said.

The delays from these companies could influence other major employers to take similar precautions, given that the technology industry has been at the forefront of the shift to remote work triggered by the spread of Covid-19.

Even before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March 2020, Google, Apple and many other prominent tech firms had been telling their employees to work from home. Many others in the tech industry have decided to let employees do their jobs from remote locations permanently.

Google’s decision to require employees working in the office to be vaccinated comes on the heels of similar moves affecting hundreds of thousands government workers in California and New York as part of stepped-up measures to fight the delta variant. Joe Biden is expected to announce a mandate that all federal government workers be vaccinated.

The rapid rise in cases during the past month has prompted more public health officials to urge stricter measures to help overcome vaccine skepticism and misinformation.

While other major technology companies may follow suit now that Google and Facebook have taken stands on vaccines, employers in other industries still may be reluctant, predicted Brian Kropp, chief of research for the research firm Gartner. Less than 10% of employers have said they intend to require all employees to be vaccinated, based on periodic surveys by Gartner.

“Google is seen as being such a different kind of company that I think it’s going to take one or two more big employers to do something similar in terms of becoming a game changer,” Kropp said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Privacy proves elusive in Google’s Privacy Sandbox • The Register

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Google’s effort to build a “Privacy Sandbox” – a set of technologies for delivering personalized ads online without the tracking problems presented by cookie-based advertising – continues to struggle with its promise of privacy.

The Privacy Sandbox consists of a set of web technology proposals with bird-themed names intended to aim interest-based ads at groups rather than individuals.

Much of this ad-related data processing is intended to occur within the browsers of internet users, to keep personal information from being spirited away to remote servers where it might be misused.

So, simply put, the aim is to ensure decisions made on which ads you’ll see, based on your interests, take place in your browser rather than in some backend systems processing your data.

Google launched the initiative in 2019 after competing browser makers began blocking third-party cookies – the traditional way to deliver targeted ads and track internet users – and government regulators around the globe began tightening privacy rules.

The ad biz initially hoped that it would be able to develop a replacement for cookie-based ad targeting by the end of 2021.

But after last month concluding the trial of its flawed FLoC – Federated Learning of Cohorts – to send the spec back for further refinement and pushing back its timeline for replacing third-party cookies with Privacy Sandbox specs, Google now acknowledges that its purportedly privacy-protective remarketing proposal FLEDGE – First Locally-Executed Decision over Groups Experiment – also needs a tweak to prevent the technology from being used to track people online.

On Wednesday, John Mooring, senior software engineer at Microsoft, opened an issue in the GitHub repository for Turtledove (now known as FLEDGE) to describe a conceptual attack that would allow someone to craft code on webpages to use FLEDGE to track people across different websites.

That runs contrary to its very purpose. FLEDGE is supposed to enable remarketing – for example, a web store using a visitor’s interest in a book to present an ad for that book on a third-party website – without tracking the visitor through a personal identifier.

Michael Kleber, the Google mathematician overseeing the construction of Privacy Sandbox specs, acknowledged that the sample code could be abused to create an identifier in situations where there’s no ad competition.

“This is indeed the natural fingerprinting concern associated with the one-bit leak, which FLEDGE will need to protect against in some way,” he said, suggesting technical interventions and abuse detection as possible paths to resolve the privacy leak. “We certainly need some approach to this problem before the removal of third-party cookies in Chrome.”

In an email to The Register, Dr Lukasz Olejnik, independent privacy researcher and consultant, emphasized the need to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox does not leak from the outset.

It will all be futile if the candidates for replacements are not having an adequate privacy level on their own

“Among the goals of Privacy Sandbox is to make advertising more civilized, specifically privacy-proofed,” said Olejnik. “To achieve this overarching goal, plenty of changes must be introduced. But it will all be futile if the candidates for replacements are not having an adequate privacy level on their own. This is why the APIs would need to be really well designed, and specifications crystal-clear, considering broad privacy threat models.”

The problem as Olejnik sees it is that the privacy characteristics of the technology being proposed are not yet well understood. And given the timeline for this technology and revenue that depends on it – the global digital ad spend this year is expected to reach $455bn – he argues data privacy leaks need to be identified in advance so they can be adequately dealt with.

“This particular risk – the so-called one-bit leak issue – has been known since 2020,” Olejnik said. “I expect that a solution to this problem will be found in the fusion of API design (i.e. Turtledove and Fenced Frames), implementation level, and the auditing manner – active search for potential misuses.

“But this particular issue indeed looks serious – a new and claimed privacy-friendly solution should not be introduced while being aware of such a design issue. In this sense, it’s a show-stopper, but one that is hopefully possible to duly address in time.” ®

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Government plans €10m in funding for green and digital business projects

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The Government and Enterprise Ireland are providing two funds to regional Irish businesses in a bid to help them transition to a greener, digital economy.

The Government has today (29 July ) announced it will provide €10m in funding through Enterprise Ireland to projects supporting digitalisation and the transition to a green economy.

The Regional Enterprise Transition Scheme, worth €9.5m, will provide grant funding to regional and community-based projects focused on helping enterprises to adapt to the changing economic landscape due to Covid-19 and Brexit.

Leo Clancy, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said: “The Regional Enterprise Transition Scheme is aimed at supporting regional development and the regional business eco-system, helping to create and sustain jobs in the regions impacted by Covid-19.”

Grants of up to €1.8m or 80pc of project cost are available to businesses. The projects should aim to address the impact of Covid-19 and improve the capability and competitiveness of regional enterprises.

The call for the Regional Enterprise Transition Scheme will close on 8 September 2021. The successful projects will be announced in October and all funding will be provided to the successful applicants before the end of the year.

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A separate funding scheme, the €500,000 Feasibility Study fund, will provide financial support to early-stage regional enterprise development projects.

Launching the funding schemes, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy TD said the funds would “help stimulate transformational regional projects to support enterprises embrace the opportunities of digitalisation, the green economy as well as navigate the changed landscape arising from Covid-19.”

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD commented at the launch that the funds would help “build Covid-19 and Brexit resilience and enable applicants to support enterprises and SMEs to respond to recent economic and market challenges which also includes the transition to a low carbon economy, digital transformation and smart specialisation.”

The Feasibility Fund is open to new projects, with grants available of up to €50,000 or 50pc of project cost and will allow promoters to test their project concept and deliver virtual or site-based solutions to their target audience.

Applications for the Feasibility Fund close on 1st October 2021.

For more information and details on how to apply for the funds, see here and here.

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