2 Steps To Understanding Your Hard and Soft Skills

Player_runsSocial Presence is about putting your best foot forward… but you need to know which foot that is.  Only when you are clear on what skills you possess can you really paint a good picture of yourself online.

Today we are going to talk about the two types of skills that are critical to your success in business, your HARD and SOFT skills. Your Attitude Adjustment Homework will help you hone in on both so that you will be able to highlight them in your online profiles.

I find that people tend to define themselves more by the technical and business hard skills that they have, rather than the strengths of their personality that are defined by the soft skills.  They lead with their business titles, not with their strengths.

Human Resource people say “it may be your hard skills that get you the interview, but it is your soft skills that get you the job.” (SearchCIO).  So let’s start with the easy stuff and look at your hard skills.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are learned.  You are taught them in school or from books. They are a way of doing something; a procedure, a best practice.  They usually refer to training and knowledge that a person has in a specific skill set.  Hard skills are usually what you spend hours and hours learning in school. First you take the basic courses, then you move on to the more advanced.

Using me as an example, I am a project manager. Project management is my hard skill.  I took many IBM courses in project management, earned Masters certificates from both George Washington and Stanford Universities, passed my Project Management Institute (PMI) Exam to become a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and also passed the internal IBM certification process.  Though life experience was important in completing these milestones, it was the hard skills, that were being assessed.

Hard skills take smarts, they are about using your brain (in particular the left side of your brain).  They are about your ability to perform a certain task. Careers that rely heavily on hard skills are Physicists, Mathematicians, Computer Programmers, Statisticians, etc.  What are your hard skills?

Attitude Adjustment Assignment #1:  Identify Your Hard Skills

Take out your notebook and write down all the skills you can think of that relate to you.

I am an expert in  (specialty):  _____________.

People come to me (I am the ‘go-to’ person) for:  _______________.

I am known for the following skills: ___________________________________________________

Soft Skills

tightropeSoft skills are more difficult to quantify. These skills are personality qualities, habits, attitudes, and even social graces. Unlike hard skills, which can be evaluated by a logic intelligence test (IQ), soft skills tend to use your heart, and conversely would be evaluated by an emotional intelligence test (EQ).  This is ‘right brain’ stuff.  Some examples of soft skills would be: anticipating risk, motivating others, teamwork, innovating, listening, communicating.  They are things that you learn, hone, and improve over a life time of trial and error.

People skills, management skills, communications, leadership, politics, are all soft skills.  You can take classes in how to develop these skills, but it is your innate personality that will ultimately determine which ones you excel in and your ability to apply what you have learned to different situations over time.  Unlike hard skills where the rules pretty much are static (for example, the Waterfall Application Development Method), soft skills are dynamic and change based on the situation to which they need to be applied.  For example, you could do a great job communicating technical status to your team, but a poor job communicating project progress to your executive management.  When the audience changes, your must change how you are communicating accordingly.

What are your soft skills?

Attitude Adjustment Assignment #2:  Identify your Soft Skills

Look at the list of 28 soft skills below and pick out 5 or 10 that you feel are your top soft skills.  Put them in an order from strongest to weakest.

(The list is adapted from: List of 28 Soft Skills – Business Professionals, June 2, 2011, Career Success – Ask A Wharton MBA)

  1. Self awareness – knowing what drives, angers, motivates, embarrasses, frustrates, inspires you
  2. Emotion management – being able to control unexpected emotions like anger and frustration so you can think clearly and at your optimum.
  3. Self-confidence – those who believe in themselves have access to “unlimited power” (wisdom from KungFu Panda)
  4. Stress management – Being able to stay calm and balanced in stressful, overwhelming situations
  5. Resilience – Ability to bounce back from a misstep in your job or career
  6. Skills to forgive and forget – Ability to move on without baggage from a past mistake or something in your career that wronged you
  7. Persistence and Perseverance – Ability to overcome challenging situations and obstacles and maintain the same energy
  8. Patience – ability to step back in an emergency to think clearly or the ability to pause and wait when you are in a rush or want to rush others.
  9. Communication skills – skills to listen and articulate your ideas in writing and verbally to any audience in a way where you are heard and you achieve the goals you intended with that communication. This is also known as interpersonal communication skills
  10. Presentation skills – ability to maintain attention and achieve your desired outcome from presenting to an audience
  11. Facilitating skills – ability to coordinate and solicit well represented opinions and feedback from a group with diverse perspectives to reach a common, best solution.
  12. Interviewing skills – ability to sell your skills as an interviewee or accurately assess other’s ability or extract the needed information as an interviewer
  13. Selling skills – this is not just for people in sales.  This is the ability to build buy-in to an idea, a decision, an action, a product, or a service
  14. Meeting management skills – at least 50% of meetings today in corporate america are a waste of time.  This is the skill to efficiently and effectively reach productive results from leading a meeting
  15. Influence / persuasion skills – ability to influence perspective or decision making but still have the people you influence think they made up their own mind.
  16. Team work skills – ability to work effectively with anyone with different skill sets, personalities, work styles,  or motivation level
  17. Management skillsability to motivate and create a high performing team with people of varied skills, personalities, motivations, and work styles.
  18. Leadership skills – ability to create and communicate vision and ideas that inspires others to follow with commitment and dedication.
  19. Skills in dealing with difficult personalities – Ability to work well or manage someone whom you find difficult
  20. Skills in dealing with difficult situationsAbility to stay calm and still be effective when faced with an unexpected difficult situation.
  21. Ability to think / communicate on your feet (under pressure) – ability to articulate thoughts in an organized manner even when you are not prepared for the question or situation you are in
  22. Networking skillsability to be interesting and interested in business conversations that motivates people to want to be in your network.
  23. Interpersonal relationship skillsability to build trust, find common ground, have empathy, and ultimately build good relationships with people you like or in positions of power/influence.
  24. Negotiation skillsability to understand the other side and reach a win-win resolution that you find favorably, satisfies both sides, and maintains relationships for future dealings
  25. Mentoring / coaching skills – ability to provide constructive wisdom, guidance, and/or feedback that can help others further their career development
  26. Organizing skills – ability to organize business gatherings to facilitate learning, networking, or business transactions
  27. Self-promotion skills ability to subtly promote your skills and work results to people of power or influence in your organization.  This will build your reputation and influence.
  28. Savvy in handling office politics – office politics is a fact of life in corporate america.  This is the ability to understand and deal with office politics so you can protect yourself from unfairness as well as further your career.
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On the flip side of the Mathematician is the Salesperson.  Someone who needs little schooling but a lot of personality.  They need to excel in persuasion, and the art of the deal.  They know how to sell themselves, on and off-line. But for most of us, our personal story will be a mix of both hard and soft skills.  I have had to balance my deep technical knowledge (hard skills), with the ability to handle clients, negotiate the win-win, and delivery with grace (soft skills).

Once you do your homework, we will take a look at how you can change-up your online profile to show off who you really are.

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

4 Steps To Decide What Social Network To Join

Today’s Digital Attitude Adjustment is focusing on building connections: connections to other humans via the internet.  Social connections are the currency by which you build your social reputation and ultimately, your digital eminence.  Out here in cyberspace, communication takes place in the form of written words, pictures, and videos.  These are your digital footprints, the path to you.

footprints

Building your online reputation all boils down to connecting with others.

No others = No reputation = No eminence.

What that means is you need to join and participate in at least one social network.

A common question I get asked is “What social network should I join?” and “Which social network would be right for me?”  I know it can be confusing so here are some thoughts to help guide you.

2973684461_8ecfb1dd10_zChart Credit Laurel Papworth  and Gary Hayes

* INVOLVE – listen to, live the social web, understand it, this cannot be faked
* CREATE – make relevant content for communities of interest
* DISCUSS – no conversation around it, then the content may as well not exist
* PROMOTE – actively, respectfully, promote the content with the networks
* MEASURE – monitor, iteratively develop and respond or be damned!

1.   Figure out who you want to connect with. (If you are a business, who is your audience?)

Ask what social media venues others in your organization or profession are using?  Different venues are good for different connections.  The leaders are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.  They serve different purposes for different people, but, if I was starting today, I would join Facebook for personal and LinkedIn for business. Twitter is really good too, but not everyone was born to Tweet.

I think my personal history kind of parallels the growth of social media, so here is a little flash back.

I started my journey into social networks back in the 1970’s with Usernets and Bulletin Board Services (BBS).  They allowed me to chat with others through online forums. The conversations were not interactive, like we have today, but they were revolutionary for the time. 

In the 1980’s I moved to online services, CompuServe, Prodigy, and then America On Line (AOL).  At that time I also was starting to use Internet Relay Chat (IRC & IRQ)) services which developed into Instant Messaging. 

Then in 1997 I discovered a service called “Six Degrees.”  This was the first site that I can remember that actually let me have a profile. 

I think it took several years (or maybe I was busy working and raising a family) but about 2005 I joined a new venture called  MySpace (it was big for it’s time, but I would not bother with it today);

In 2006, I moved to Facebook (where I still play with my family and friends everyday, sharing status updates and pictures);

I joined Twitter when it was an egg (2007 or 08), but I am only just starting to Tweet on a daily basis (and watch all the knowledge that flashes by every moment of every minute of every hour – thanks to my new very social friend at Kenexa (an IBM company), Bruce Kneuer, Social Media Manager).

I have been a member of  LinkedIn since 2009, but , like many people, I thought it was only for job hunting, which is not true anymore, so I am using it much more (a shout out to Social IBMer Ben Martin, who has some great blog posts to help you use LinkedIn).

I started my pet blog,DogDaz, on Tumblr in 2010, but moved it to DogDaz on WordPress in 2011, which is a better platform for it.  I still do Tumblr but only go on to reblog the great pictures that people post.  

I ‘pin’ sometimes on Pinterest, but mostly I watch what my kids have on their boards.

I belong to several groups in LinkedIn, as well as other communities of practice I belong to, but am getting ready to pare down because I have to many.

 I am also active within my company, IBM, on our internal social space called Connections.

This of course is separate from all the email spaces that I use for the blogs, personal, and business (AOL, gmail, and Lotus Notes).  Oh Yeah, I do have a Google+ account but have not had the time to research it’s value for me yet. 

I tell you all this because, different venues serve different purposes. Now you are probably really confused, so read step 2 below.

2.  Do your research and experiment.

I joined different networks over the years, but only one at a time.  This way I could observe and listen for a while to see how the network worked, what was being discussed, and where I might want  to put my few precious comments.  If you do your homework in Step 1 above (What are other people you know using? What is your professional organization or business group communicating on?), you may get your answer quickly.  Like I said, the winners today usually are LinkedIn and Twitter if you want business like connections.

3.  Set goals and manage your time.

Social media can suck up all your time if you let it, so be clear about why you are using it and how much time you have to devote to the activity every day.  A timer really does work, so get one!  Twitter and Facebook demand more time to be active on than LinkedIn or Pinterest.  Be real with yourself about the time you will have to devote to the medium.

4.  Don’t spread yourself too thin.

You really have to prioritize what you are doing.  You do not need to be on every social network, and you do not have to use them every day.  It is better to be on only one social network and have good participation, then to be overwhelmed and not participate at all.

The only way you build your social reputation is by connecting through social networks. If you are not connected, you need to remedy that right now!   Without virtual connections, you basically are talking to yourself.  Sharing information without connecting is meaningless.

YOUR ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT HOMEWORK: GET CONNECTED

For a great exercise in connectivity and human relationship building check out “Leading With Intention,” a blog by Vicki Flaherty, a fellow IBMer..

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

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Know Thy Self First

Finding the words to define one’s expertise is hard. There are now several pages in my notebook* filled with one or two-word descriptions of things that I believe that I am good at and things that I am an expert in.  After I wrote down all these words, I then took time to think about what I meant by each of them.  I call this deep thinking.

daily_planner_writing_md_wht(*About the Notebook: I told you to get a good notebook, right?  You really need to be writing this stuff down. I’m using a really nice bound journal but you could just steal one from your kid’s school supply stash.  Believe me, you need to have something to write all your Attitude Adjustment Activities in. Stop reading and go get paper and pen now!)

Building your personal brand is a mix of several things and expertise is a big part of it.  Until you know what you are good at, it is really hard to communicate it to others.  And the communication part is what social branding is all about.  You need to ask yourself:  What is it I am known for?  If I ask a colleague or acquaintance, what would they say I am an expert in?  Would they know my distinct point of view on a subject? (And a future thought: Is that what I want to be known for?)

Attitude Adjustment Homework #1:  On at least one sheet of paper, write down the answer to the question “I am ______________”

I am ….a change agent; innovator; caring; mentor; mother; teacher; project manager; driven…..  you get the idea.

Attitude Adjustment Homework #2:  Take some of your words and make a WORD CLOUD (its fun and helps you to visualize).  You can make your cloud at http://www.wordle.net/create.

Here is my word cloud:

wordle expertis

I wanted to understand what ‘expertise’ meant, so I researched it on the internet, but I was not happy with any of the definitions that I found.  The definition I like the best is actually one of ‘competencies,’ and it came from IBM‘s internal encyclopedia called ‘Bluepedia:’

“Competencies are comprised of a balanced and coherent mixture of know-how (skills), know-what (knowledge), know-why (relevant experience) and individual attitude.”

Let’s break that down: (1) know HOW, (2) know WHAT, (3) know WHY, and (4) ATTITUDE.  If you have those four elements of competency then you can definitely consider yourself an expert in an area.  That works for me.

Attitude Adjustment Homework #3: Check in with other people to see if they agree with your cloud of expertise and if they would add or delete anything.

animationfinalKeep up the good attitude.  See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

Living Social Doesn’t Make You Eminent

After so many years of living my life in the world of bleeding edge technologies, online networks, social communities, blogs, wikis, web sites and other elements of digital business, I was surprised today to be told that my Digital Eminence is weak and almost non-existent.  I realized that for so many years I have been busy living IN the social, that I neglected the actual care and feeding of my ‘social eminence.’

At first, I was miffed.  “Me?” I thought. Are they talking about the person who held one of the first IBM Holiday parties in Second Life (though my boss fell off the flying carpet and never did reappear until after New Years)?  “Me?” The colleague who organized a international virtual baby shower complete with games for all on line and physical presents at the expectant’s home (because teams were becoming so geographically disbursed and I knew that being together was going to need to be different)?  They couldn’t have missed the fact that I was one of the first people to move classroom material to e-learning, for wider reach and higher consumption?  Alas, they did, because, while I was so busy doing, I was not making sure that my work left a digital footprint.

Networking has always been important to build your eminence, but, in these digital times, documenting yourself electronically, through membership in social networks, virtual communities, writing blogs, publishing e-books, commenting on others forums, etc, builds a picture which is now highly prized.  Unlike a resume, which is a flat recitation of experiences, your digital footprint is dynamic.

I learned a valuable lesson today. Living social does not make you digitally eminent unless you tag your work in such a way that others can see you in it.

So how did you make your digital mark today?

digitalattitudeanimation    See you in the Cloud – Lorian