Written by Elaine Hirsch
You finally have your MBA and your first “real” job. Writing the resume was easy since your department counselor helped you with it. The interview also went well because you were given problems taken straight out of textbooks. Now you are faced with a difficulty at work that none of your professors ever covered, leaving you helpless.
What Is Communication and How Important Is It?
Dictionary.com defines communication as “The imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs”. Did you know that listening is also an important communication skill and requires practice?
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business published a paper entitled “In Defense of the MBA,” which stated, “And they realize that faculty who are stars with students because of their outstanding communication, teaching,and advising are also a valuable part of the b-school equation.” Understanding financial formulas, memorizing case studies, and recalling successful companies is no longer enough to succeed in business; according to MBA Online, adequately communicating your ideas has become a crucial skill to have.
What an MBA Doesn’t Cover
Just as the example in paragraph one explains, most classes in an MBA are geared to learning the mechanics of a business enterprise. Unfortunately, many MBA programs won’t teach its students how to close sales, pitch a business idea,or even conduct day-to-day customer service. As more companies are competing for the consumer’s dollar, having these skills will make a huge difference in getting visibility for your product.
There is a concern also with online education. Does it give an MBA graduate the interpersonal skills required to effectively do their job once they land it? According to authors from Drexel University the number of students taking at least one online course in the fall of 2007 was 3.9 million and is increasing every year. While online programs could improve communication skills in terms of using social media and email to get in touch with professors and students, it still detracts students from learning how to interact with customers.
How to Learn on Your Own
Consider joining a group that reads and discusses a book to share opinions and analyze what you read. Speaking of books, Jeff Bezos’ biography is one of great achievement. You can read about it on his website. He made book reading easy through Kindle communication technology.
Getting your hands dirty by starting your personal social media campaign isa great way to learn communication skills. Starting a blog and writing weekly articles about a topic that interests you, linking it to your Twitter account and networking with like-minded people, and leveraging these tools to improve visibility on your LinkedIn account are great (and free) ways to being increasing your network size.
All that you do to improve your communication skills will help you personally andin the business world. A degree, while helpful, can only go so far. All you say and do will have a lasting impact. Carefully consider adding all you can to your communication skills.