As an IT recruiter candidates often ask me how they can improve their soft skills, their People skills? And let’s face it in business with team members, management, stakeholders, customers, suppliers - it can be a lot of people contact when actually what you’re really good at is the technical side of things. But that’s business….
So what are some of the positive things you can do to improve your people & communication skills?
Just turn up! Whether it’s a drink on a Friday night or cooking that cake for charity or a company quiz night….people like people who are ‘good sports’ & get involved. It doesn’t matter if you’re not good at something - nobody cares - just by showing your face & fronting up is a really powerful thing especially as it often means you get to meet & interact with people in the company you don’t know. You will be remembered.
Tip for introverts: You’re often better at developing deep lasting relationships so head along with someone you know or team up with some people you’re familiar with.
Head out and see the big world, meet some incredible people backpacking & have experiences beyond your imagination. You’ll learn some street smarts, meet some fascinating people (a lot of tech & entrepreneurial types of all ages), you’ll have time to read a lot of books, debate & philosophise with like minded guys & gals. It will improve your communication, confidence, independence & resilience. Whether it be Europe to kick off or keeping it cheap across Asia, some of the best lessons in life I’ve learnt travelling about myself, what is important in life & what it really means to live it to the full.
Tip for introverts: Have a basic plan of places to go but part of the fun is having flexibility and being able to stay longer in the places you're enjoying without being on too much of a schedule allowing you to explore more.
***Go to Networking events
The old saying of ’It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is very powerful, however I like to take it a step further and say ‘it’s what you know and who you know’ if you’re good at what you do and you know people you’ll pretty much be successful. So go along to Canterbury tech / industry events & conferences - it’s a great way to keep current, learn about new technologies / methodologies and it makes you look at your projects differently. It may enhance your solutions & put a different perspective on ways to do things better.
Tip for introverts: Take a buddy or plan to at least meet someone you know – have a plan on what to say / how to introduce yourself / remember your business cards. Sometimes it's best to go solo and you're forced to meet people - don't worry they're all there for the same topic, and are friendly & professional.
Read stuff that is industry relevant to you but also throw in a 'businessy' book especially if you’re making the transition from technical to leadership….
Some classics from the Sunstone bookshelf on human relations are:
‘How to win friends & influence people’ by Dale Carnegie. It's a terribly cheesy title but being written in 1936 it’s stood the test of time and has been modernised to give contemporary examples. This is a MUST read for any person in business but also helps with friends & family too...
‘Drive’ by Dan Pink. How we are motivated & approach work - this in an extremely insightful book on modern working.
‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’ by Stephen Covey. Some of the foundations & fundamentals on how successful people operate, it's a classic.
Just by saying ‘Yes’ to going on that training course or going out to see a client - different experiences shape us and make us richer for it & again pushes your experience in learning new & different things.
Tip for Introverts: You’ll no doubt analyse the opportunity first that’s right for your skill set / experience but if you’re on the fence take that step and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Keep up your personal interests, exercise & passions, catch up with friends, and make time for family - these will keep you mentally strong. In times of stress take some time out to meditate, stretch out with yoga or take a walk to let the mind wander. Often my clients don’t just want passion for the job but want passion for interests as this makes for more interesting, well-rounded positive people.
So there you are – get out and get amongst it!
I'm founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment company specialising in software, web & mobile jobs based in Christchurch, New Zealand. You can contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org