Talking on the phone may become a prized ability that gives people a leg up in their careers. That was the conclusion of a recent article on the death of voicemail and the impact that has on business communication.
There’s no question emails, texts and other messaging services change the way information is exchanged, but there’s also no substitute for the real thing – which is the message I delivered recently to a group of middle school students in the Seattle area. Email serves a purpose. There’s a time for text messages and social media apps, but if you really want to prepare for your future put the phone down. Look up from your computer screen and have an actual conversation. That’s how you talk your way into really cool things and it can be done in these six steps:
Be Willing to Talk
It’s hard for people to recognize your rockstar skills if they don’t know you or anything about you.
Put the phone down, and show a willingness to engage in a conversation.
Smile, be pleasant and be available to talk.
Have Something to Say
Once you’ve committing to having a conversation make sure you have something to say.
Start with something easy, like “Hi.” You don’t need to overcomplicate the introduction or the ice-breaker, but you do need to be prepared with something to keep the conversation going.
Choose Your Words Carefully
The way you describe a situation, person, outcome or event says a lot about you. Choose your words carefully.
Remember, people who are getting to know you and haven’t had many interactions with you are looking for clues on who you are and what you’re like. Don’t give them the wrong impression.
Sometimes surprises happen, like a Gatorade bath during a post-game interview!
Don’t avoid a conversation because you don’t know what will happen in the end.
In other words, don’t douse your chance to do really cool things.
Sometimes You’ll Feel Silly
What if you sound silly? What if the other person laughs at you? What if you ask a silly question?
There are a lot to “what-ifs” that can derail a conversation before we even get started. Don’t psyche yourself out worrying about something that hasn’t happened, and probably won’t happen.
Know What Makes You Awesome
Among the things you should be prepared to tell someone is what makes you awesome. You don’t need to brag, but you do need to be able to highlight what you do well and identify the really cool opportunity you’d like to have.
People can’t read your mind. Give them a clue so they can help you out.
When I finished the talk a student raised her hand and asked this question: “What can any of us do right now to make sure we’re prepared for our career and all the really cool things?”
My answer, start talking and keep talking. The way you present yourself and handle daily interactions will set you apart from everyone else.
It’s true for middle school students and it’s true for you.
If you’d like more ways to demonstrate leadership potential using your daily interactions pick up a copy of my latest book, The Influential Conversationalist and sign up for the monthly Practicing Leadership email.
Jen Mueller is a veteran sports broadcaster and a rock star keynote presenter. Nearly 20 years spent in professional sports locker rooms gives her a unique take on business communication and conversation skills. Hire Jen for your next event or conference Jen@TalkSportytoMe.com