The life of a business traveler, especially one like me who travels to New York City regularly, appears glamorous at first glance. People always ask me if I’ve eaten at famous restaurants like “21” or the latest hot spot they’ve read about in Travel and Leisure.
Most often when I’m in New York and don’t have a business dinner, I dine on Chinese food delivered to my hotel room from a local take out place. Once my fortune cookie read, “Your talents will be recognized and suitably rewarded.” I was happy with this fortune, but it made me think.
My talents, your talents, everyone’s talents will be recognized and rewarded if we develop and use our communication skills. There are three types of communication skills critically important for career and life success: 1) Conversation skills; 2) Writing skills; and 3) Presentation skills.
You need to develop each of these skills if you want to have your talents recognized.
There are a few common sense points associated with becoming a dynamic communicator.
Become a good conversationalist by listening. Take an active interest in other people and what they’re saying. Show them you’re listening by asking appropriate follow up questions to what they say.
Conversation skills enhance your networking ability. Networking is an important but often overlooked communication skill. It is helpful when you are looking for a job, but it is even more important when you are happy with your situation. All people who are career success build and nurture strong networks.
Networking is an important skill. Successful people have large networks. They have people they can call to help them. They know they can call on these people because these people know they can call on them. That’s the real secret of networking – look to help others, not just to find out how they can help you.
Write in a manner that communicates well. In general, this means, being clear, concise and easily readable. The best way to make sure your writing is readable is to read it aloud before sending it.
When I was in high school, I was the editor of my yearbook. To raise funds to cover the cost of our yearbook, we sold ads. There were a lot of factories in the town where I grew up. In the past, the yearbook staff had never approached these factories to place ads in the yearbook. I wrote sales letters to all of the plant managers. We got several full page ads from those letters.
One of the plant managers wrote back, asking if I would come to see him. When I walked in to his office and introduced myself, he was surprised. He told me that my sales letter was so well written that he thought I was the teacher who was the yearbook sponsor. Two years later, I was looking for a summer job after my first year of college. The market was tight. I called this man. He remembered me, and I got a job.
Preparation is the most important key to good presentations. You have to analyze your audience, prepare a talk that gives them what they want, and practice your talk out loud if you want to be a great presenter.
Presentation skills may present the biggest opportunity for getting your talents noticed. Just a few months ago, I did a talk for a local chamber of commerce. As it so happens, the Sheriff’s department is a member of this chamber. The Sheriff himself happened to be there that day. He liked my talk. About a week later, I got a call from his training office. The Sheriff asked him to get in touch with me to conduct some supervisory training for their sergeants. I never would have gotten this business if it weren’t for the notice I received from a talk at that chamber meeting.