Cultivating a successful business career takes more than just lucrative deals and hard work. It also takes networking. The best way to cultivate a network of partners, collaborators and mentors who will help you navigate the fast-paced competition of the business world is to be an effective communicator.
Effective communicators can walk into any room — into any situation, really — and immediately get their point across. Whether they are trying to impress potential clients or pitching a new idea to their supervisors, great communicators can command a room without being overbearing or a wallflower.
Master of Business Administration programs emphasize how to become a great communicator in the modern business world. Here are some effective business communication skills for making the best of any workplace situation.
There is a fine line between being confident and being overbearing or a know-it-all. Conversely, being quiet or unassertive won’t get you anywhere either. Confidence is the key to gaining authority and trust from your colleagues and superiors. Looking people in the eye and giving them a firm handshake are both indicators of confidence. Avoiding “filler” words like “um” and using strong action verbs without hesitation or qualification conveys confidence.
They say that practice makes perfect, but really practice just makes you better. Hone your communication skills with every person you meet. From the barista at your favorite coffee shop to the chair of the board of directors at your organization, give yourself and the people around you a chance for interaction. Even if it’s small talk, take a chance to build a connection. You never know what small conversation will lead to bigger deals and upward mobility.
Conversations should end with some kind of deliverable, even if it’s learning someone else’s name and position within your organization. When you speak to individuals or in groups, always have an end goal in mind. Begin planning what you will say in an upcoming meeting and set goals for the interaction. Is the goal to persuade people to see your way? To invest in your idea? To communicate a better strategy that will result in better productivity or profit? Consider if you need to elicit emotion, appeal to intellect or make people laugh or cry. Approach communication with a final goal.
Having an elevator pitch is similar to speaking with purpose. An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech used to spark interest in an idea or even yourself. Elevator pitches are usually around 20 or 30 seconds — about the time it takes for a short elevator ride. Elevator pitches are not only used to introduce yourself but also to pitch an idea. A pitch of this kind generally requires the following: explaining the purpose, identifying its unique qualities and potential and then putting it all together. Of course, practice is important. So try out your elevator pitch in front of the mirror and then on friends or colleagues.