Saturday, 13 October 2012

The importance of social skills in your career and business


We were seated at the bar. My uncle had insisted I accompany him to the bar. As matter of fact it was an exclusive club; the ones you get an invite. The club was full of distinguished members of society. After introductions I came to know who these people were. Among the people that I was introduced was a town clerk and even a government minister. Not to talk about business executives and rock stars doctors.

“Just look around and see the type of people in here,” my uncle instructed. I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say. “Why do you think I come here,” he continued. “To drink and hang out,” I replied. He laughed for a couple of seconds. “Business is why I come here.”

My uncle is veterinary doctor. He freelances sometimes to farmers and people in general. I had never thought about how he got clients but I could clearly see why. Most of the members were rich and did some form of farming. Besides that, these were the kind of people who owned pets. My uncle was socializing with his potential customers!

“How do you think I got invited?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I replied. “Well, a friend invited me,” he continued. He went on to compliment me on my work ethic and ambition. “You really work hard young man.” This time his friends had also joined the discussion. “Unfortunately it’s not enough .To be successful in the real world; you need connections,” he continued.  Others who were close-by echoed those same sentiments.

The reason why my uncle had brought  me to the club on this particular occasion, was to try to show me the importance of socialization. During that time I was staying with him while doing my internship. I had grown into the habit of working very hard and sometimes late in the night. Even on weekends I would still go to the computer laboratory to work on something.

So to be honest, I had little or no social life. I just didn’t think it was important. Besides that my social skills were terrible. I found it difficult to start or engage in conversations. I just couldn’t do it. My uncle coming from a science background had quickly identified the problem. The problem was even if I was introduced to someone who might be able to help I still couldn’t take advantage of it. He told me initial at the beginning of his career he had mad the same mistake.

“Look how got your internship position”, he pointed out. I had gone the internships mainly because well his friend was the IT Director of the institution at the time. It was really difficult to get a good internship based on your results due to the economic meltdown. But I got a lot of offers from different top companies because of his connections.

“It’s pretty simple. Working hard will get somewhere but your social skills will get you very far,” he paused.”You need to pay attention to your social skills. Learn to talk to people,  even strangers,” he finished. Even up to this day he continue to remind me and I have also found the most effective way of looking for a job is through people; that’s what’s gotten me the interviews that I was invited to. Besides that, my observations of very successful business people confirm that.


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