Soft skills are broadly defined as personality traits, behaviors, and attitudes that help you communicate, collaborate and lead effectively. Although harder to quantify, these skills are essential to success – particularly for leaders. While hard skills, or expertise in your given field, may get your foot in the door, it is the soft skills, or rather power skills, that will get you the client, job, promotion or funding that you deserve.
#1 Networking: It may be some time until networking events and opportunities for in-person connection are available but that does not mean that you can’t refine your networking skills now. LinkedIn is an effective tool for virtual networking and engagement.
Try this simple plan for LinkedIn that you can adapt to your own needs –
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile demonstrates both your expertise and your personal brand. LinkedIn recently shared some expert advice to get you started.
- Post frequent updates on your LinkedIn page – share an industry article (but always add your own voice to the message), write an article, create a video, or even a simple text update relevant to a timely topic in your industry will work.
- Reach out to your current LinkedIn connections by sending them a direct message. Make a commitment to reach out to 3-5 unique connections each week in order to re-establish and/or maintain a warm connection. Focus your message on the recipient and any common ground you might have. Some ideas for your message: suggest meeting for virtual coffee on Zoom or recommend a great newsletter or blog, such as HerSuiteSpot, that they should check out. Be a resource and offer value to your connections.
- Connect with the movers and shakers in your field and those who you admire.
- Comment, not just like, content shared by leaders in your industry, Start conversations. Aim for at least 2 per day.
#2 Active Listening: The ability to actively listen is a valuable skill. This requires the listener to focus on the speaker’s message and fully understand and comprehend the message before responding thoroughly. Being an active listener helps you to build connections, gain trust and solve problems.
Mentoring is one of the best ways to develop active listening skills. By mentoring, you are not only coaching and supporting another professional, you are developing important, sought after power skills. With so many recent college graduates entering the workforce without job prospects, this is the perfect time to be a mentor. Reach out to your alma mater, professional association or personal connections to see if there is a young professional who could benefit from your time and experience.
Use these active listening tips with your mentee:
- Be genuinely interested in what your mentee is saying. Frequently circle back and paraphrase some of the conversation to show that you understand the meaning and feelings behind the message.
- Use positive body language, such as head nodding and leaning in when appropriate.
- Avoid interrupting and inserting your own ideas.
- Show interest in things mentioned previously (How did your meeting with your boss go last week?).
- Summarize the key elements of what you both shared before ending any meeting or conversation.
#3 Time Management: Time management is the process of dividing your time between specific activities. Good time management takes time but is worth the effort as it brings freedom from deadline pressure, helps you to be more productive and decreases overall stress and anxiety.
Here are some ways to improve your time management skills:
- Make lists, but actually use them! You may want to create three lists – personal, home and work.
- Prioritize your work each day.
- Overcome procrastination by scheduling in smaller, enjoyable activities throughout the day to break up challenging tasks.
- Stop multitasking. You are more creative and effective when you focus on one thing at a time, and believe it or not, this practice saves time.
- Sign up for a time management course. Here are some great options:
Mari Considine is a dual Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) & Chief Development Officer (CDO) with 20+ years of hands-on transformational leadership experience. Mari is passionate about team collaboration, the creative process and executing strategy from inception to successful finish which has led to several awards for brand marketing and philanthropy communications.
Mari is the CMO & CDO at Acenda Integrated Health, an adjunct marketing professor and an active member of the American Marketing Association New Jersey where she currently serves as President of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Executive Marketer Advisory Committee.
Connect with Mari on LinkedIn and continue the conversation!