My career in business protocol, professional etiquette, and leadership training spans over 25 years. During this time, I have conducted seminars, certification training, and authored numerous articles for newsstand, trade, and online magazines. My process in the development of handouts, workbooks, and handbooks for each seminar or training session has involved conducting assessments and connecting with specialty experts and accomplished professionals. I have always wanted to ensure that all seminar content reflects current trends and client needs. This book series is no exception. My process and a carefully selected team of experts have added to the inspiration and timeliness of each chapter.
My original intent was to create a four-binder training module that consisted of a (1) facilitator guidebook, (2) participant handbook, (3) participant workbook, and (4) PowerPoint illustrations, case study exercises, and interactive exercises. This four-binder prototype was shared with a team of Fortune 500 corporate trainers and an instructional designer SME (subject matter expert).
The instructional designer SME recommended breaking down my one-book concept into four independent books.
The corporate trainers recommended publishing the participant handbook first and then complete the development of the training module.
After much deliberation, and having recovered from feeling overwhelmed by the possibility, I realized it made sense. So I listened and took their advice. Using an outline format, I created a new series concept of four titles (instead of just one). I researched every handbook and workbook that I had written during my career; I pulled sections and topics (many overlapped) into separate folders using a color-code system; and I reorganized the content into four separate books. Whew! This was extremely time consuming and mind boggling. To some degree, it was like therapy, because I was dealing with challenging personal issues at the same time and it gave me an escape.
Then I reached out to my database of clients, trainees, and referrals for their input. I asked those interested to select books and chapters that they would be interested in reviewing. Their feedback revealed where my material was strong, where it was weak, and where there were voids. My experience and knowledge base, however extensive, are somewhat limited because I cannot be all things to all people. No one can! And, if I was going to invest the time, energy, and financial risk into this book series, I wanted it to be as comprehensive as possible with every “i” dotted and “t” crossed—if you know what I mean!
I worked with a literary agent for a while on the original idea, and we came close to a contract; however, when I weighed the pros and cons of content control and potential release dates, self-publishing gave me more flexibility. I selected the Wheatmark Publishing Company, a book publishing service whose process is as close to a traditional publisher as I could get. Because I was drawing some of the content from the seminars, workshops, and training work that I had conducted over 25 years, it took me three years to compile it all into The Art of Professional Connections, the four-book series that I have published over the last three years (2011, 2012, 2013). All four books are available in soft-cover, and the first two titles are available as ebooks (currently listed exclusively with Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore). The remaining two titles are being released in May (the dining book) and June (the events book). I will be releasing the first in a series of SMT modules in October 2013.
Each book needed to address not only what the reader needs to know now but also what the reader will eventually need to know as his or her career advances. This meant involving the expertise of experts who had experience and knowledge beyond what I had the opportunity to attain.
The feedback on the first book revealed that the book’s most important chapter, Step 5: Cultivating Conversation Skills, was the weakest. We shared our different approaches to developing conversation skills, and through this collaboration it became the book’s strongest chapter.
The dining book needed a chapter on wine selection, especially for individuals entertaining savvy clients for the first time. I understand wine selection to a degree; however, I am not a sommelier. So, I engaged the expertise of two sommeliers and a winery.
Although the content was drawn from over 25 years of seminar and training work, it took three years to put it all into the four-book series, which were published (2011, 2012, 2013) by Wheatmark Publishing Company. They are all available in soft cover, and the first two titles are available as an ebook (currently listed exclusively with Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore). The remaining two titles will be released in May(dining book) and June (events book). The first in a series of SMT modules will be released in October 2013.
Why Every Desk Should Have This Series?
Business executives and CEOs tell me that they are very concerned with the lack of professionalism that they encounter in their day-to-day business ventures. The casualness of many business communities has caused confusion, created mixed messages, and depleted important elements of “professionalism.” I have written this book series, The Art of Professional Connections, to offer clarity and to fill that void. And I have designed each book to be training or classroom friendly, which means that you can add content to your current training modules or classroom discussion from these books! Furthermore, the series is the perfect compliment to every company’s “Best Practices” manual.
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