C-Suite Network™

Confirmation: Much More Than Just a Courtesy

Today, Silicon Valley is Main Street Disneyland for worldwide technopreneurship. All of the top universities that teach entrepreneurship highly respect Silicon Valley. They want their students to immerse themselves in the wonderful world of Facebook, Google, Stanford University, and all those other techie destinations, if only for a couple weeks or so.

Many international students study engineering—they have a highly technical education. This relatively narrow focus is applauded in the fairytale land of VCs, burn rates, startups, and unicorns. But what could we offer these students that will set them on the right path toward entrepreneurial success?

We don’t have a technological background. We aren’t even VCs. We have a handful of clients that use complicated software and high-tech products, but we are far from their technical advisors. We are, however, their business advisors. We guide them to make better business decisions. We help them stay on track toward their ultimate goals. It’s what we have the most experience in.

So, when we thought about these international tech students in Silicon Valley, we figured out that the best thing we could do was to share a different set of skills that they need in order to find success—these are soft skills. Usually, they aren’t taught at technical schools. And they typically aren’t shared by the idolized VCs who got rich off of their technology alone.

Soft skills can expand your terms and credit, reduce turnover rates, and transform your customers into brand advocates.

One of our most popular talks, in fact, is “How Soft Skills Earn Hard Cash.” During this talk, we discuss how soft skills can benefit your 3 key business relationships: Employees, Vendors, and Customers. We encourage empathy—putting yourself in someone else’s shoes—as the skill that lays the groundwork for all others to follow.

Here’s an example. A soft skill that seems to be fading away these days is simply acknowledging and confirming. Let’s talk about Bill, a recent Engineering graduate. He just received funding for his tech startup business.

When Bill is asked to execute a project or to do some research, he doesn’t let the requestor know that he received the request. He doesn’t let them know when he’ll be finished, and he doesn’t let them know in advance if there will be a delay.

By not confirming, Bill thinks that, whether he gets to the assignment or not, he is forcing the requesting party to reach out to him to see if he completed it or abandoned it. This could take some pressure off Bill, but it looks bad for his business, no matter how tech-savvy he might be.

Many people who aren’t trained in soft skills will go on to complete the assignment but not confirm. That way, if they happen to prioritize something else instead, they figure it’s OK since they haven’t committed. Plus, the requesting party might forget about it altogether. But if they do complete the project and don’t report, they can say, “Oh yea, that project, I completed it last week.” It’s almost like they think status reporting and confirmation aren’t necessary because others should know they can count on them—“Just trust me!”

But this work style causes anxiety for the requesting party and ultimately hurts their relationship with Bill.

Now the client, vendor, or employees are much less likely to consider Bill for special situations because they think he’s unresponsive and unreliable.

Bill better hurry up and get more financing from the VC (and give up more equity, too). This is because he will have to pay top dollar for everything, have limited or zero credit, and he’ll have a higher turnover rate.

Bill’s techie startup could take a nosedive, just because he missed the chance to build trusting relationships with people he relied on. An effortless soft skill, like timely status reporting and confirmation, develops the type of trust that can cut business costs. And this is but one of the many crucial soft skills that could help any business thrive.

And as far of the Silicon Valley tech-campus tour is concerned, we take them on a tour of the wine country and redwood forests after they’re finished seeing all the glass, concrete, steel, and conference rooms. We share our tried-and-true lessons that prove soft skills can earn hard cash. Want to join us?

For more, read on: http://c-suitenetworkadvisors.com/advisor/michael-houlihan-and-bonnie-harvey/

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