Thursday, January 13, 2011

What are soft skills?

Soft skills or social skills (also called non-technical skills) are those personal values and interpersonal skills that determine a person's ability to work well with others in a group. These skills differ from 'hard skills', which are easy to observe, quantify and measure, unlike 'soft skills'. 

Soft skills include effective communication, leadership and teamwork skills; demonstrating problem solving abilities, initiative, and motivation skills; displaying honesty and strong work ethics. 

Soft skills play a vital role in academic and professional success; they help us excel in the workplace and their importance cannot be denied in the emerging information or knowledge society. Soft skills are needed to work in a collaborative manner with one's colleagues. 

Types of Soft Skills
There are various components that comprise soft skills. Some are inborn such as confidence, friendliness and some has sociable nature, while others are skills that can be taught or improved upon, such as developing effective communication, organisation and social graces. Following include some of the skills that are needed while working in a corporate environment: 

1. Communication skills
2. Team skills
3. Leadership skills
4. Etiquette
5. Cross-cultural skills

How to develop Soft skills?
Soft skills cannot be acquired by merely reading books. They have to be imbibed and practiced in daily routine. It is a continuous learning process. Development of soft skills has two parts. One part involves developing attitudes and attributes, and other part involves fine-tuning communication skills to express attitudes, ideas and thoughts.  

Perfect integration of ideas and attitudes with appropriate communication skills in oral, written and non-verbal areas is necessary for successful work. 


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Marketing Communications: five finger story

Marketing Communications is about establishing an image for company and products. It is to communicate benefits from products, create awareness about new products, keep existing products in focus and generate market excitement. 

The company's marketing communication tactics alerts customers to sale, justifies prices with benefits, answer consumer's questions, provide after sale reinforcement and keep organisation in focus. 

All marketing communication tools should work in unity. It should be a seamless communication process sans hitches. 

Advertising: It is a paid form of non-personal communication about an organisation, product, service or idea by an identified sponsor. 

Paid: purchase of space or time for advertising messages. 
Non-personal: uses mass media to transmit messages to large target groups with little opportunity for immediate feedback. (in case of traditional form on mass media: newspapers, magazines, TV, Radio)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tips to develop soft skills

For running any kind of business, one need to hone his/her presentation skills. As the famous saying goes "You never get a second chance to create first good impression". Following are the points to be kept in mind:

  • Consider yourself as brand. Every brand needs promotion
  • Maintain an eye-contact while talking to someone. Develop positive attitude towards life
  • Don't walk slow. Learn to walk briskly. People who walk briskly project that they are going with the purpose
  • Don't put you hands in pockets while talking to someone. Don't stand with hands folded
  • Sense of purpose should get projected when talking/meeting with people/client  
  • Be professional in your dressing
  • Project a promise of prosperity when making a presentation. Promise should be made visible to the client
  • Language - impactful words should be used
  • How you deliver and what you deliver are most important things 
  • Select right words to communicate. For that you need to have a good vocabulary
  • Always keep smiling. Smile at others and laugh at yourself. Laugh with others. When you are selling something, start with a smile
  • Listen - Never project that you are disoriented. If you will listen attentively, you will make friends easily. Ears,face, mind and soul - create an impact that you are listening
  • Listen to others with eye-contact. If you are attentive in listening, you will always be able to make out what people are saying and what they want to convey
  • Be alert to environment and details. Whenever visit anyone's office, don't be absorbed in your thoughts. Look around and you will get number of clues about the person and organisation
  • Look around the table of the person with whom you are having chat
  • Always keep a 'plan B' or 'contingency plan' at time of meeting or presentation. Time management is must    
  • It is said that the most efficient manager is the one whose table is clear

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Corporate Image

Managing corporate image is a serious business. It is to make public percieve a company, as the managment want. Some business executives think that corporate image as imagery creation of some smart snoozy word-smiths, whose business is to concoct concepts for ultimate aim to generate advertising revenue. 

Good corporate image is considered, by enlightened businessmen, as focussed communication to clear cobwebs in people's mind about the company. Company tries to clear the mis-information and mis-conceptions through clear and crisp communication. 

Heads and hearts of people have to be cleared and made focused towards the company. The corporate communication department of any organisation need to work on a central thematic idea to project a good positive image of the company. This work is also carried out by PR department of any orgnanization. Tata was the first company in India to realise the importance of good image developemnt and thus opened an in-house PR department in 1945. 

Image is a mental perception. Even when someone has a fairly good idea about this perception, it is often quite hard to define it. Brand loyalty is created with good image. Several bits and pieces of information, stories, events and flash of visuals and symbols, make up for that perception. 

Human mind keep storing information and a structured perception or opinion keeps building up to finally emerge as edifice either well painted and spruced up or a weather beaten up, waiting to be done up. Company should take care of itself to build up a good reputation. 

Business world is full of conflicts of interests, diverse opinions and ideologies. Whole world of communication is centered to grab attention. Company should formulate a communication plan to seek attention. Well nurtured and established images have stood many companies in good stead, and come to their rescue in turbulent times. E.g. Vodafone (battery faliure), Cadbury (when insects were found in some choclates), Coke & Pepsi (pestcides issue) etc

In tough times, when going gets rough, one sure source to fall back upon is good corporate image. Professionally managed companies world-wide have experienced that image managment is not a one day wonder, but the process has to sustained over long periods. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Image Managment : What is image?

Public Relations Officer is a custodian of company's image. It is the duty of the PRO to enhance the image of the company. A business is like a public institution and is under constant public scrutiny. Every company, even the smaller ones, are being watched by intrested publics. 

Company's reputation should be credible and strong. People watch how comapny conduct itself and its business. Over the last decades, public curiosity in business has grown many folds and this wil increase in coming times. Image starts with the smallest thing. Public talk and compare the companies. 

Concerned about the public perception, many companies find it difficult to determine, as to what the name of the organization stands for. Brand image attracts the consumer more than what actuall the company is.

1. Image is the sum of experience that someone has with the institution. 
                                                                                               - Henry Ford, 1987

2. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. 
                                                                    - Warren Buffet, Reader's Digest, June 98

3. Image is the profile of the object, meaning the sum of impressions and expectations as gathered in the memory of an individual. 
                                                                                                 - Topalion, 1984

4. Prestige is earned, not bought, least of all on borrowed money.
                                                                                     - Governor, Bank of England   

5. The business executive cannot afford to scoff at the subject of images, because people are acting towrds his companyon the basis of them and not on the basis of facts and figures.
                                                                                              - Peirre Martineau

Must Read: World Brand Congress 2009 - Brand Imagery: Indian Radio Stations

World Brand Congress 2010 - Creating brand images independent of logos