It’s that time of year again – the time to make New Year’s resolutions.
But instead of just going the traditional route – pledging to join a gym to work off holiday excesses – why not opt to give your career a boost as well? Resolve to improve your communication skills.
Yes, you read that last sentence correctly! How you communicate with others—whether in person, in writing, or online—has a tremendous impact on your career. It affects every aspect of your working life, no matter how good your specialized skills are in your particular field.
For the coming year, make these communication resolutions to enhance your career:
1. Resolve to keep your phone off the table when meeting with someone. Having your phone visible tells the other person, “I am so ready to drop you and connect with someone else.” It’s important to give people your full attention.
2. Take a presentation skills class. Work on becoming a better presenter. You need to get your point across. And if you do so effectively, not only does your audience gain information, but you look good.
3. Use “reply all” only when it is necessary for everyone on the list to see the email. In my classes, many participants say they really dislike receiving unnecessary emails. If you don’t want to receive unwanted emails, you need to stop overusing “reply all,” also.
4. Be smart with social media. Don’t allow social media to hurt your career. If your sites suggest you drink too much, curse a lot, or post nasty comments, people may question whether they want to work with you or hire you.
5. Offer your opinion. If you don’t speak up in meetings, your boss, colleagues, or clients won’t know what you know. And speak early in the meeting. The longer you wait to talk, the harder it is likely to become.
6. Learn to command the room. Dress appropriately. Walk into a room as though you belong there. Stand tall. Don’t fidget. Shake hands correctly. When nervous, say something positive to yourself. Before she enters a meeting room, one woman I coached says to herself, “I own this meeting!”
7. Monitor your volume. Make sure you speak loudly enough to be heard. Many people don’t. Do not underestimate how powerful a strong voice can be – but don’t confuse powerful with shouting. You want your opinions, thoughts and ideas to register with others.
8. Apply for awards. Winning professional or community awards helps to build your credibility, and can be an important way to promote yourself. To be eligible for many awards, other people have to recommend you; for some, however, you can nominate yourself. This is not an obnoxious thing to do. You still have to earn the award.
9. Be friendly and helpful. People want to work with others they know, like and trust. It may seem obvious, but too often people neglect the little things that build relationships. Greet people you know and also those you don’t know. Smile. Say “please” and “thank you.” Help people when you can. Make connections for others, both online and in person.
10. Send thank-you notes. In the New Year, start showing appreciation for the kindness of others. If you receive a gift, visit the home of a boss or colleague, or are a guest at a meal, you must send a note. You also need to send a thank-you note after a job interview.
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