In order to be successful in the business world you need to be highly skilled and knowledgeable about many things. Many people assume undertaking a course at a business school will guarantee this, but that’s not always the case. There are some essential skills that should be mandatory in these courses, and you’ll want to check the one you’re interested in covers them. We’ve picked out five key areas to watch out for.
No longer can you only focus on the one country – globalisation means you need to understand about other countries and how they operate. Any good business course should cover how international business law works – at least at a very minimal level! If possible, you should be looking at case studies from around the world, as well as in a variety of industries.
Internationaal Ondernemers Congres (Image: congresinbeeld/flickr)
Another important thing to look for is whether they teach about cultural norms and standards. Whilst not quite as essential as the legal side of things, it’s an incredibly useful aspect if you want to work abroad or with a company with many clients outside your home country. You may find some business schools offer additional, extra-curricular courses in these areas, and they’re definitely worth taking.
Public Speaking Skills
Many people assume that in order to be good at public speaking, you just need to have confidence and be good at communication. However, there’s a lot more to it than that. Many schools will offer workshops and modules in communication – both as a leader or within a team, but you want to look out for one that specifically includes public speaking.
Image: speaker with a lot of microphones
Public speaking courses should cover giving presentations, and how to avoid giving power-points that look fresh out of high school classes, as well as tips for engaging with a full room of people you may not know. They should also look at how you speak – what rhetorical devices work best, and what styles of speech to avoid. By taking a course in this, you’ll become a speaker people want to listen to – making your work easier.
Networking is a vital skill in many industries, but none more so than business. If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’, this is where that matters. It’s perfectly possible to a get a great job and work with interesting, well-paying clients without having contacts, but it’s so much easier to do with them. Having a healthy amount of contacts will mean you have access to inside information, an easier way to organise meetings and the chance to attend events you otherwise might not even have heard of!
Any good business course should cover the essentials of networking – from business cards to how to meet new people – and they also act as a way of networking themselves. Make sure wherever you go, this is covered.
Surprisingly neglected by many courses, IT competency is one of the skills that will let you progress incredibly fast. You may find that many schools either assume that the students will already have a good knowledge of computers, or that they don’t cover the most important aspects. You’ll be surprised at how far a strong knowledge of excel and databases will get you, as many companies are still getting to grips with how fast modern technology accelerates.
Image: John Watson/flickr
If you’re going to choose one of these five essentials to teach yourself, this is the easiest one to do. The internet is filled with information on software basics, and since it’s not a skill that requires other people’s involvement, it’s easy to learn in your own time.
No matter what area you go into, you will end up needing to negotiate. Whether it’s with clients, project managers or HR, it’s a skill you will end up using. Make sure it’s something covered by your business school – ideally, they should run a whole module or extra-curricular focused on negotiation training. Not only should it teach you about the actual act of negotiation itself, but also about what you need to prepare in advance, how to research, and how to present yourself.
If you really need some practice in this area, look online – many companies offer courses in negotiation training, and they’re well worth the time.