Teaching the Invisible

Today’s guest  post is by WALEKPeppercommer,  Brian Hickey.

imnvisiagesSelling the Invisible, Harry Beckwith’s “field guide to modern marketing,” is a must-read if you’re interested in hundreds of quick, practical, road-tested strategies and truisms about selling or delivering a service, such as PR and communications services (versus a product, such as the “Incredible Expanding 50-Foot Garden Hose,” let’s say). Beckwith’s laser-focus on marketing fallacies, errant presumptions, and the seemingly countless ways we so often misread, oversell, and just generally miss the point when it comes to what clients truly value, compared to what we think they value makes Selling the Invisible an invaluable guidebook to the business.

Re-reading Selling the Invisible led me to think about the corollary to the book, namely, Teaching the Invisible. After all, we’re all deeply invested in training young staffers in best practices. With this in mind, three areas are among the most important skills to develop, and the most instrumental in having a successful career- communications, judgment and relationships.  There are plenty of other skills that are part of a successful career, but these three seem to me to be at the center of the equation. I say that because it’s frequently one or more of these areas where people struggle most frequently, in my experience.

Communications.  Surprisingly as it may seem, the rapid-fire, relentless demands that are all part of a day in the life of every PR pro can undermine the very thing we’re supposed to excel at: communicating. Understanding what you’re hearing and making yourself understood is an essential skill in this business. That’s why it’s important to periodically step back from the day-to-day and ask yourself if there’s anything better or different you can do to enhance your communication skills.

Judgment.  Arguably the most intuitive skill of the three, judgment is probably the most difficult one to teach. Sound, consistently solid judgment is the product of experience over time combined with the ability to learn from your mistakes. There are no shortcuts to that. It takes time to cultivate softer, fuzzier attributes such as professional instincts. Refining your sense of intuition is what comes with this process.

Relationships.  Building your network over time and making the best use of it is the most sure-fire way to bring about all kinds of developments in your work and your career that would not otherwise occur. Your network of reporters, editors, colleagues, managers and even friends will greatly influence the arc of your professional development.

Mastering the invisible assets of communications, judgment and a rich network of relationships will contribute more than anything else to a rich, rewarding career.

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