Today is Thursday, so this post is on communication skills.
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 restaurant about which they’ve read in “Travel and Leisure”.
Most often when I’m in New York, and don’t have a business dinner, I dine on Chinese food I have delivered to my hotel room from the Cottage Noodle Shop. I’ve never even been in this restaurant even though I have eaten their food at least 100 times. I am particularly fond of the Cottage Noodle Shop’s Hot and Sour Soup, Vegetable Dumplings and Lo Mein. If you’re ever in New York, check them out. They’re in the 40s on Ninth Avenue.
Last week, I was in New York, and ordered from the Cottage Noodle Shop. 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 if we develop and use our communication skills. As you probably recall, there are three types of communication skills critically important for career and life success:
- Conversation skills
- Writing skills
- Presentation skills
You need to develop each of these skills if you want to have your talents recognized. Let’s take a look at each of them.
If you are a good conversationalist, you can build relationships with the people you meet. If you’re not, you are missing a lot of opportunities. Recently, I was on an airplane – nothing new there. I introduced myself to the man sitting next me. We began chatting about what we do. As it turns out, he owns a group of high end automobile repair shops. I was able to close a speaking engagement with one of the trade groups to which he belongs based on that conversation.
Conversation skills are not just for entrepreneurs. When I was working for a very large company in the 1980’s, I happened to get on an elevator with the President of the largest and most profitable division in the company. I was going to be conducting a workshop at his division’s upcoming national sales meeting. I introduced myself to him, and told him that I was looking forward to his sales meeting. We chatted briefly in the elevator and for a few minutes when we got to the lobby. He invited me to his office to talk some more. As a result of that conversation, I became a leadership consultant to him and his leadership team.
Conversation skills – and the willingness to use them, can really help get your skills noticed.
Writing helps too. 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 an ad 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. I got dressed up in my one and only suit and went to his office at the appointed time. When I arrived, his secretary buzzed him to let him know I was there. I heard her say, ‘no sir, he sent a student.” 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.
Presentation skills may present the biggest opportunity for getting your talents noticed. As I have always worked in training and development, I had to develop and hone my presentation skills at a young age. This wasn’t too difficult for me, because I never suffered from stage fright. I used to compete in speech contests when I was in high school. I was the emcee for my high school talent show. I was on the radio in college.
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 doing a talk at that chamber meeting.
Back to the fortune – “your talents will be recognized and suitable rewarded.” I’ve been lucky. My talents have been recognized and rewarded. But this is because of my well developed communication skills and my willingness to use them.
The common sense piece of advice for today – develop your communication skills and put them to work. You’ll be surprised at how far they will take you in your career and life.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com for more common sense. Check out my other blog: www.CommonSenseGuy.com for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.
I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open. Please go to www.FirstGiving.com/TheCommonSenseGuy to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.