Networking, communication, negotiating, and leading — these are some of the soft skills that are usually required for anyone to succeed as a manager or leader and move up in their career ladder, but at the same time, these soft skills are often overlooked. They’re rarely taught in schools but they’re very essential in helping one to flourish as a professional.
Be++ featured Mark Herschberg, author of The Career Toolkit, a book that aims to help you master vital skills to help you accelerate your success for your career and your business. We talked about the importance of these skills, how to build a high-value network, and how to help your employees stay engaged in the age of digital transformation.
Mark Herschberg got inspired to write his book after realizing that vital skills required for career development are rarely taught in school and companies. Growing up, we often hear how important networking is all the time but networking skills aren’t taught enough to us by our teachers or our parents. Twenty years ago, he got connected with Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he developed an educational program tailored for career development. Mark wanted to share his notes from this program online, and so what started out as a 20 pages of notes for students soon turned into 300, and this is how his book The Career Toolkit came to be.
Mark emphasizes that there’s no foolproof class in teaching someone how to become a leader in just a short amount of time. Company CEOs and other corporate leaders are too often caught up in numbers and getting their ROIs for the year, which explains the lack of leadership training for their employees.
Mark introduces a simple method to help solve this problem. The key is to form a discussion group — talk about a situation and let your employees discuss it openly and in-depth. Include a diverse group of people from the various departments of your organization; this way, you can get more perspective. This method can help your employees gain more insight while improving their communication and interaction at a very low cost.
Networking is more than just entering a room full of people and collecting business cards, or in the age of online connections, adding someone on LinkedIn. Networking is all about building relationships and this takes time and hard work.
To build a high-value network, prioritize quality over quantity. Take the time to get to know someone and remember to keep in touch with them to stay connected. Approach it in a karmic way and consider giving first before getting; ask yourself, “How can I help this person?” Ask them about themselves and pay attention to what their interests and needs are. Whether it’s a supplier, a new customer, or a new business partner, you’re likely to discover what they currently need at the moment and think about what you can possibly do to help them in your own way. Offer and give to build a good relationship.
With the pandemic taking over the world, many organizations had to switch to remote working. Communication has become a challenge and employee engagement is continuously decreasing. To resolve this, it’s important that managers and leaders recognize the drawbacks of remote working and think about how they can replicate the communication flow of real office conversations.
Mark advises that there is no single way to improve employee engagement. What’s essential is to keep your communication channels open by encouraging your employees to dedicate a portion of their time to these group discussions. Allow your employees to get different perspectives from different people, and let them use the insight that resonates the most with them to aid them in their career and self-development.
Abhii Dabas is an active member of the tech community, and through his companies (including Webpuppies), he conducts outreach programs across different universities with a focus on entrepreneurship. Over the past months, he has already trained over 1,000 university students to help them prepare to join the workforce.
Mark Herschberg is the author of the book The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success that No One Taught You. Mark is also a seasoned executive and cybersecurity expert who has helped startup companies and has created educational programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Business School (HBS). Aside from marketing his book, he’s also doing fractional CTO work for various companies. He is currently based in New York, USA.