Communicate for Success

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 spot they’ve read about in Travel and Leisure. 

Most often when I’m in New York and don’t have a business dinner, I dine on Chinese food 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 40’s on Ninth Avenue.

Once when I 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 about exactly how to get my talents recognized and rewarded.

My talents, your talents, everyone’s talents will be recognized and rewarded if we develop and use our communication skills. Dynamic communication skills are one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  There are three types of communication skills critically important for career and life success: 1) Conversation skills; 2) Writing skills; and 3) Presentation skills.  You need to develop each of these skills if you want to have your talents recognized and rewarded.

Communication skills are not just for entrepreneurs. Here’s an example of how my communication skills helped me get noticed when I was working for a very large company in the 1980s.  One day 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 an internal leadership consultant to him and his leadership team.

Dynamic communication skills are important for building your professional network. Networking is an important but often overlooked communication skill. It is helpful when you are looking for a job, but it is even more important when you are happy with your situation. All people who are a personal or professional success build and nurture strong networks. 

Networking is an important skill. Successful people have large networks. They have people they can call to help them. They know they can call on these people because these people know they can call on them.  That’s the real secret of networking – look to help others, not just to find out how they can help you.

Writing is another necessary tool that helps get your skills noticed. 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 ads 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 a talk at that chamber meeting.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are dynamic communicators.  There are a few common sense points associated with becoming a dynamic communicator.  Become a good conversationalist by listening.  Take an active interest in other people and what they’re saying.  Show them you’re listening by asking appropriate follow up questions to what they say.  Write in a manner that communicates well.  In general, this means, being clear, concise and easily readable.  The best way to make sure your writing is readable is to read it aloud before sending it.  Finally, preparation is the most important key to doing a good presentation. 

That’s my take on communication skills and personal and professional success.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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