Balance Your Technical Skills With Your Soft Skills
To maintain your good, or positive, online presence, it’s necessary to balance your technical talent with your social expertise. You need both to demonstrate your online prowess.
Dictionary.com defines these two skills, as follows:
- Seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly; sociable; gregarious
- Living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in a community, rather than in isolation
- Belonging or pertaining to an art, science, or the like
- Skilled in or familiar in a practical way with a particular art, trade, etc…
If you’re a member of Generation Y (the Millenials) or Z (the iGeneration); the latter comprising today’s high school seniors and younger, you’re most likely a technical expert – or as I like to refer to members of these generations – an e-whiz. You are an electronic whiz kid who can figure out all things cyber. Gens Y and Z comprise the true masters of the virtual universe, which to most people is still a very mysterious place in which they spend about half of their time.
But. And, there is a “but.” Being technologically savvy is only half the equation for online networking and marketing. The other half is possession of the social prowess to connect with others on a very human, empathetic and emotional level; and, that involves mastery of business etiquette, communications, leadership and negotiation skills. As stated in previous posts, it has become routine for colleges and employers to conduct an Internet search on prospective candidates; this is especially true in this economy and with the more sought-after educational institutions, non-profit organizations and corporations.
So when crafting your online presence, keep in mind that the cyber world is not your bedroom, where the things you do and say are private. Sitting behind the computer screen often provides a false sense of security and privacy. But, as we’ve learned from the mistakes and misfortunes of others who have made the news, or perhaps from our own mistakes or those of friends and family members, Internet postings can have a devastating effect on people’s reputations and lives.
Just as people’s attitudes and outlooks change when they get behind the wheel of a car, because they think are anonymous, people frequently throw caution to the wind behind the computer screen because they think they are shielded from any recriminations as a result of their words. However, your actions – good or bad – will yield results; therefore, it behooves you to ensure that your results are consistently good, and lift you up rather than bring you down.
To polish rather than tarnish your Internet presence, focus on improving your social prowess by practicing the following skills online, as follows:
- Maintain a respectful tone. Be kind and considerate. Connect with others in positive ways, and avoid the negative. Even when disagreeing online, or voicing an opposing opinion, adopt a respectful tone and reasonable and understanding attitude. Avoid at all costs personal attacks, profanity and sarcasm.
- Say “please” and “thank you,” as well as other words that show respect and consideration for others, just as you do when face-to-face, such as, “with all due respect,” “excuse/pardon me,” “I’m sorry,” please accept my apology,” “allow me to…,” “you’re welcome,” “with your permission,” and so on.
- Write in complete sentences. It might be fine to text in abbreviations and acronyms, but using this form of communications shorthand when posting, commenting or sending emails will cause you to look amateurish. Conversely, writing in whole sentences online makes you appear intelligent and sharp.
- Use correct grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary. Make those whole sentences eloquent and logical. Ensure that they convey exactly what you want to say; strive for clarity.
- Be authentic. People with leadership skills are dependable, loyal, ethical, down-to-earth, sincere, trustworthy and empathetic. Leaders genuinely like people and motivate them to work together to achieve goals.
- Maintain your integrity. The Internet is a hodgepodge of different behaviors, views, passions and values. There is much to be learned and you should keep an open mind as you connect with people from all over the world. But, remember that leaders don’t get lost in the melee; stick to your principals and values.
- Put yourself in the other guy’s shoes. When making plans or striking deals online, it’s important to consider the position of those with whom you are negotiating. In order to come to an agreement that benefits you, there has to be something in it for the other parties. Ensuring that there is something for everyone is the key to successful negotiating; otherwise, you’re merely asking for a favor. Be mindful that it’s difficult to conduct complex or high-stakes negotiations through email and other online resources; such negotiations should include some face-to-face time, as studies have shown.
- Know your subject, and your audience. Whatever your field of endeavor is, master it and speak authoritatively about it online. If you’re the go-to person in a particular area offline, become that person online, as well, through Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites where you maintain a presence. Understand the audience you are addressing and how your subject might be of interest to it in particular.
Pairing such social skills with your technical skills online will give you a powerful Internet presence. Join me next week for more on crafting your Internet presence.
Until next time,