Communication is a key attribute to your success as an entrepreneur. By not effectively communicating with your clients, team, and the market, you begin to miss opportunities.
When I mention communication I don’t mean just speaking; there are so many different ways to look at communication- such as writing an email, the way you listen to a conversation or even when making or not making eye contact.
See your success as an entrepreneur is determined in large part by your ability to communicate, and by mastering these different communication skills ensures that you’ll be effective at every level.
1. Public Speaking
For many, we cannot avoid speaking in public. We have to get on stage and pitch to an audience; we have to present to possible investors, run team meetings, speak on a panel or maybe even be asked to be a keynote speaker. If you are shy or get uncomfortable speaking to a large group, on stage, or into a microphone, it can damage your business and even your brand image. However, as I tell everyone who asks me for advice, you have to get uncomfortable. You need to practice over and over again, you should never turn down a speaking opportunity, and you need to use every opportunity to improve some part of your game. You can also read books from experts, taking coaching lessons, and don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.
2. First Impressions Are Key
As self-employed entrepreneurs, we are always networking, and we need to make sure that we make a winning first impression- every time. Every person we meet could potentially be our next client, investor or lead us to a significant partnership or deal. Unfortunately, we as entrepreneurs can’t afford to have an “off-day.” But to be honest, it will happen, I have missed a few opportunities of my own by having an “off -day” and had to work 10x harder to get that next meeting. If you think you need to work on this, hire a coach, learn the art of small talk, attend a workshop or even hire an image consultant, yes that is a possibility. You want to master first impressions, as this not only builds your database and but also increases referrals.
When you are actively listening, it can help you converse, debate, lead, mediate and negotiate. It also makes you seem more empathetic, thoughtful and invested in the people around you. I believe listening might be the most important communication skill of all, yet so many of us are so horrible at it. Why? Because we are so focused on what our response is going to be or even worse we are multi-thinking. This is when we are doing mental checklists of the rest of our schedule for the day, wondering how quickly you should reply to that investor you met earlier in the morning, thinking of how you are going to close the client from yesterday, etc. Next time you catch your self not listening, stop, and give your full attention to the conversation you are having. Listening is a secure attribute and something needed in every leader.
4. Conflict Management
You will work with all types of people, and some of these people may be very difficult. Most of the time, you can pick your clients, you can even get rid of them if you want. However, it is essential that you learn to handle the difficult people, i.e., the stubborn ones, those who see things differently, the ones who are hard to work with or hard to sell. Why? Because if not, you will end up with, a minimal client base and only a handful of people you can work with which will never be sustainable. You must learn how to manage adverse situations and to communicate under pressure confidently. When you need to push back, make sure you are always being polite, productive and focusing on clarity. Always think of the bigger vision and let go of your ego.
5. Body Language
Mastering the way you communicate through your body language is a must. It starts with sitting or standing up straight, making sure your head is high, and your shoulders are back. You want always to look people in the eyes, smile often, keep your hands out of your pocket and don’t cross your arms. You need to look at your body language as if it is speaking for you. See your body language has fundamentally become apart of who you are, to the point where you might not even think about it. If that’s the case, you need to start now, because you could be sabotaging opportunities.
Don’t forget, as you pay attention to your body language, also pay attention to how your customers, business partner, and employees speak to you through their body language; and you will be able to read situations better and communicate effectively.
Getting your message out is very important, and you must instill confidence and trust in your partners, investors and soon-to-be customers. You need to choose strong words that show clear decisions. You must use but calm speaking voice, and speak at medium volume with medium speed.
When talking about something that you have a lot of knowledge on or something you are passionate about, it should be easier for you to tweak things to make you sound like you are a confident and competent business leader!
Remember, If you don’t (seem to) believe in yourself, your company or your product, then why should anyone else?
Communication skills are one of the most powerful skills you can utilize to advance your career and success, so focus on finding the gaps in your communication depot and then mindfully practice until each of your skills are up to par.
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