Tips on re-entering the workforce

February 4, 2009 4:54:18 PM PST
Learn how our natural instincts and abilities can give us a leg-up in this economy.

Many women are considering returning to work, and some, in this economy, are being forced to. This economy has brought about many drastic financial and employment changes that have had a major impact on families. Many women (and men) with diverse backgrounds and experience are finding their options narrowing. Joanne Hernon believes that, by recognizing and acknowledging what comes naturally to women, women can play a large role in turning this economy around.

As women are becoming small business owners and re-entering the workforce in greater numbers we can create a positive impact on the economy. A report in October 2007 by Catalyst, a national nonprofit organization working to expand opportunities for women in business, found that Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board of directors achieved significantly higher financial performance on average than those with the lowest representation. So women are already creating a positive impact and we need to acknowledge this.

There are some consistent qualities which may be either inherent or learned, that can help women have a competitive edge. It is a matter of acknowledging these, and then embracing them in a way that becomes natural and lets you do your job.

1. Be a good listener
Listening is by far the most important skill of a good sales person, or anyone in business for that matter. Women have a natural ability to listen, as we have been socialized to do since we were children - though this is not to say that good listening skills are inherent in everyone. For some (both men and women) it is something that requires great concentration and much practice. It is also imperative, while searching for a new job and going through the interview process, that you listen to what the employers have to offer, and expect. Grasping what they expect from an employee will give you a step up.

2. Be empathetic
Women tend to be empathetic, which is another essential skill in business. Being able to put yourself in the shoes of the customer or interviewer is another key to success.

3. Intuition: Do women have an edge?
Listening to your own intuition can help enormously. Of course, both men and women have intuition, but in general, women tend to rely on it more. So people can capitalize on intuition to assist them in making business decisions. However, it can take time to develop a trust in one's own intuition.

4. Natural confidence: Both women and men need it in business
Throughout the sales process or any business interaction, you want to be confident about your skills and professional assets. Employing tactics that you know work (good listening and empathy, relying on your intuition, etc.), lets you be assured you will create prosperous business relationships. Presenting confidence in your abilities is key to nailing an interview.

5. Connections matter
Modern selling approaches rely much more heavily on forming connections with their potential customers. Even car salesmen now have a much more passive approach. These connections help salespeople to build confidence and ultimately improve their approach. Overall, in an economy such as the current, it is imperative to network and reach out to those you know, and don't know for that matter. Like the common phrase, "it's all about who you know," now is the best time to use your naturally given social skills.

That said, women can continue to utilize their natural skills and combine them with the necessary and ongoing training that we all benefit from to succeed and grow our businesses and economy exponentially.

About Joanne Hernon:
Joanne has provided sales consulting and business development services for two years. She has assembled a team of consultants and professionals who value delivering clear, actionable plans with an equally clear track record of taking our clients' businesses to the next level. She has created a systematic approach to creating and training small sales teams that work in a collaborative style with client executives.

Her business experience includes small business consulting services, technical training, marketing and accounting. Her sales experience includes marketing to Fortune 500 accounts such as Kraft Foods, Motorola and government accounts such as Johnson Space Center and FEMA, just to name a few. She has managed government contracts with the Department of Energy, Microsoft General Services Administration (GSA) Contract, California Multiple Award Schedule (CMAS) purchase contracts with the State of California and technology contracts with the City and County of San Francisco. Ms. Hernon has also developed channel sales programs with VARs, resellers and through distribution with Ingram Micro and Tech Data. She has managed sales teams and created call centers.

Joanne has a unique approach to selling which involves selling from the customer's point of view or Customer-Centric selling. Utilizing this approach in her corporate selling career took her to the top of her team. Now she helps sales professionals do the same in her training programs. She also has professional sales training from Dale Carnegie Sales Advantage.

Ms. Hernon is a lifetime member of CEO Space and is the Vice President of the board for Marin Association for Female Executives (MAFE) where she has been a member since 2005.

You can learn more about Joanne Hernon's business approach to selling and about the services she offers businesses at