The VAR space is unique in that it represents an intersection of two sectors that, in many ways, don’t have very much to do with one another. The personalities, tendencies, and instincts of the analytical, reserved, technical types who are drawn to careers in information technology are often drastically different than those of the extroverted sales professionals who seem to be able to establish instant rapport with nearly anyone, anywhere, no matter the circumstances.
If you happen to fall into the former category more than the latter, don’t despair. Although it is true that certain inborn personality traits tend to dictate the way that we relate to others, you can boost your interpersonal skills by practicing them and deliberately pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Are you ready to take your ability to communicate and connect with customers and contacts to the next level? Use these simple tips to supercharge your people skills.
Make an effort to come off as friendly and approachable. If you feel uncomfortable meeting new people, it can often show in your face and body language. When you find yourself thrust into a social situation, concentrate on smiling and conveying friendliness with your facial expressions and gestures.
Be an empathic and engaged listener. For decades, interpersonal skills gurus have insisted that listening skills comprise about 95% of what it takes to be successful in social interactions. Focus intensely on what other people are saying, and ask for clarification or expansion on any points on which you are not completely clear.
Pounce on similarities, coincidences, and points of convergence. Rapport doesn’t just build itself – instead, it’s constructed on a shared foundation of similarities and common interests. When you’re meeting someone new, take special note of any of these little coincidences and file them away for later – you never know when they might come in handy.
Keep it lighthearted. Humor is a great way to build bridges with new acquaintances and make inroads toward new business relationships. You can inject a sense of fun and playfulness into your business dealings and still remain professional. Taking yourself too seriously is never a good strategy when you’re trying to branch out and meet new people.
Work through conflict constructively. Being able to tackle problems head-on, develop a solution, and then move on is a very important interpersonal skill. If conflict is a regular feature of your workplace, read up on conflict resolution techniques. Try to develop a reputation as someone who doesn’t shy away from tough issues or sensitive dilemmas, but who always handles these situations with grace and fairness.
Are you a natural-born “people person,” or do you just play one when you’re on the clock? What’s your favorite tip for connecting with customers and clients? Give us your two cents in the comments.