Whether you’re self-employed or a W-2 employee, there will be certain times in your life where you may need to network with others, conduct a speech or do some extensive writing in order to achieve your next level of success. However different our occupational skills may be, the ability to network, communicate effectively and write well are three of the most important skills to master, but most of us are either uncomfortable doing them or even scared of it.
Let’s keep in mind, the ability to master these skills cannot be achieved overnight so don’t wait to improve on them thinking you don’t need to, until you need it.
Many of you probably have heard of the quote from the Roman Philosopher, Seneca who once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” What this means is, success is being prepared so when the opportunity presents itself, you will be skillfully qualified to seize it. Luck is a state of unconscious preparation, which you have already spent time on and worked hard for and will seem like second nature.
1. Network Effectively
Networking is one of the most misunderstood concepts as it is often confused with selling. It is not selling, but a way to meet people and build long term trust and relationships that may be mutually beneficial.
Your network can be friends, colleagues, business connections or even family members. Building a network can take place anywhere. It is not about going out of your way to attend a networking function every week.
Networking is simply being able to connect with people whether it’s at work, talking to your neighbors or simply taking your eyes off your phone to realize there are networking opportunities wherever you go. You can take the opportunity from the relationships you build to assist others in expanding their knowledge, and maybe others to help you expand yours.
Networking in the workplace with fellow employees in your own department as well as other divisions is a great career development opportunity. If there is a professional mentor program within your company, get involved. It’s a chance to possibly meet senior leaders who may help you build your career.
If there are no professional mentor programs, don’t be afraid to ask for someone to be your mentor or just to learn something new in order to prepare yourself for your next move. You can never be too prepared.
Now remember, there are others who need to learn from your expertise and experience as well, so don’t forget to mentor others who will want to follow your lead by becoming your mentee. I firmly believe that teaching is the best way to learn.
- Be a good listener -You don’t want to be doing all the talking because the other person may think you are not interested in what they have to say. If you’re asking for their opinion, make sure you give them time to answer and pay close attention and ask some follow-up questions.
- Be prepared –Plan out what types of questions you would like to ask others and write them down in order of priority. By doing so, will avoid taking up too much of people’s time. After all, they are there to network with others as well.
- Resume review – When you’re looking for work, a non-intrusive way to tap into possible opportunities is to have someone review your resume. By doing so, they will find out a lot about you that they may not already know such as your work history, skills and accomplishments. With this knowledge, they may think of a contact for a company that your skills and experience may be suited for.
- Leverage Social Media – Networking doesn’t have to be in person. With the increase in use of professional social media sites such as LinkedIn, a great way to start a conversation is to possibly comment on their post or maybe send them a message.
- Show gratitude – When building long term relationships, it is crucial to always send a message of Thanks whenever someone offers you advice or introduces you to one of their contacts. A handwritten Thank You note always adds a special touch if you know where to mail it to. If not, a simple email will do the trick.
2. Communicate Effectively
The ability to communicate effectively includes both public speaking skills and simply being able to get your point across and listen. If you want to take your career to the next level whether you work for others orself-employed, being comfortable doing public speaking is crucial. Yes, public speaking is still one of people’s top fears, and depending on which opinion poll you look at, it may even top “death.” Which means if you must go to a funeral, some may say you’re better off in the casket than delivering the eulogy.
The reason public speaking is so important is because it is the most efficient way for you to get your message out. Whether you climb up the ladder in corporate or building your business, you must regularly speak to your employees, customers, vendors or shareholders. The more people you’re looking to impact, the more frequently you’ll have to speak in public.
For those who vow to never speak in public, you will still have to get used to possibly speaking in front of a group or panel. Looking to secure funding for your business? Then you must conduct a sales pitch in front of a panel: Think of Shark Tank. If you’re looking for a promotion, most likely you’ll be doing a panel interview with some senior managers.
- Speak Up – Start by speaking up in a group setting. Either ask questions or maybe comment on something the group is talking about.
- Volunteer – Volunteer to lead a project or event.This will get you to practice speaking to a group of people.
- Actively Participate – Join a local Toastmasters club.Since they are in 143 countries, I’m quite sure you can find a club to attend. Toastmasters is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills. It is a great platform to practice speaking in front of a group.
3. Write Effectively
Having the skill to write effectively is more important than ever because people write more than they speak. Just think of all the emails and texts you send daily, not counting snail mail if you’re still one of those that use such form of communication.
This blog post alone is more than a thousand words long in written form and I did not speak a word while writing it. Although we may not like to think so, but writing is the basis on which our work and intellect will be judged.
The ability to write well will enable you to clearly articulate your thoughts on paper as well as anticipate what your readers are looking for. If you’re looking for work, you may need to write a cover letter or a counter offer. If you’re a business owner, you may need to write a letter to your customers. If you want to have a voice in your community, you may need to write a letter to elected officials and craft your words in a compelling manner.
- Proofread – Always proofread your writing to ensure punctuations and grammar are correct and no typos.
- Use your own eyes -Do not solely rely on a grammar checker. There will be times when those auto checkers may not catch grammar mistakes.
- Write daily – Get in the habit of writing daily as a form of practice.
- Language that resonates – Use simple language instead of big words and keep sentences and paragraphs short. This will make it easier for readers to follow your train of thought.
- Correct tone – Be cognizant of who you are writing to and use an appropriate tone. For example, if you’re writing a memorandum at work, then you must use a professional tone.
Give yourself a challenge, dive in and start practicing by taking micro actions daily. You’ll be surprised at how much you improve over a short period of time. Regardless of what you’re looking to accomplish in life, by mastering the skills of networking, communicating and writing, you will undoubtedly achieve whatever you set your mind to.
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