Two of the most important skills that every Entrepreneur needs to have and never gets discussed or taught are:
Lets take Networking, it is one of the most valuable skill everyone needs to have irrespective of your background, you job or your company. People and relationships are what matters, everything else is not that important. You can create things, but building relationships take time. I believe we are all endowed with 3 resources, Money, People and Time, the first 2 we can make but Time we cannot so that is, in my humble opinion the most valuable Resource. Time and time again, I have seen successful entrepreneurs, professional and business person are prolific networkers i.e. they have vast connections to people. I am a big fan of the book Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, because the book very clearly summarizes the reason why an idea tips and becomes viral, Connectors are key carriers of the message. Are you a connector? take the test here.
So how does one become a connector, this is not rocket science or selling, you basically go into the world and meet people, not just people you want to meet but meet everyone, randomly, in parties, in every possible Social gathering. Be proactive about finding connection to those whom you meet. There have been many instances in my experience where a serendipitous meeting led to some totally unexpected outcome and created tremendous value… the most notable one is how I met my wife. It has been one of those experiences that trivializes the phrase Life Changing. I am sure everyone of us has a story like that. This post is not about that but to show the importance of being out there and meeting people and connecting. My motivation to organize the Startup Iceland Conference is to bring that experience to Iceland. If we had an event focused on Entrepreneurship and bring entrepreneurs from all over the world and provide an environment for Entrepreneurs and people in Iceland to get connected, that builds networks, bridges and opportunities. The value of being able to connect with like minded people from different backgrounds is immensely valuable for anyone. This is what is called the Network Effect.
The second skill is selling, everyone is a sales person. Whether you are selling your idea, or your opinion or whatever you have to make it interesting, valuable and useful for the person you are talking to. Gunnar Holmstein, the CEO of Clara always tells me that Selling is not Rocket Science but Harder! It is hard because selling cannot be a mechanical exercise, the best sales people I have met are also very engaging, relationship oriented people who care deeply about others. They really want to help people and solve their challenges. It is a lot of work to think that way all the time, but that is what it takes to be a great sales person. I have written about Pitching. One common theme to all this is you cannot fake it, you either commit yourself to working hard at acquiring the skill or you don’t. That is the final analysis, as Yoda says you either Do or Do Not there is No Try.
So, how does one start working on build the necessary personal strength and will to learn the above skills and make them into a habit? if you are not very inclined to it? I have written about Dr. Steven Covey‘s books on the 7 Habits. You really need to commit to following it. It is a lot of hard work, believe me it sounds simple but when starts living by it the Habits demand more you. It is an upward spiral.