Article, Simple keys to successful networking by Alan Kearns :

The best way to get the role you want and advance in your career.
Alan Kearns


Do you want to get hired more quickly? Would you like to get promoted into the position that you have the qualifications for? Did you know that the number one reason that people will hire you or choose your products and services over your competitors' is the evidence of your soft skills? According to, 67% of managers would hire an applicant with strong soft skills, even if their technical skills were lacking.


So what are soft skills? According to Mark, they are "anything that enables you to influence others, to pitch ideas, and to successfully persuade others to take action". Think about how much of your role involves influencing and persuading others to take action. Although many think they can gain advancement through more education, training or other hard skills, the most effective way to move forward in your career is to focus on upgrading your soft skills. We live in a world where most professionals emphasize their hard skills. Hard skills are the education, knowledge and skills you need to practice your specific profession.


One of the great career myths is that if you get a great education, this will automatically lead to a great career. A great education is a "hard" skill. It opens doors, and it may qualify you for the role. To become very successful, you will need to certainly develop your soft skills - your body language, clear communication, use of language, dress, confidence level and handshake.


The word 'skill' means the ability to do something well, usually gained through experience and training. Some people have natural ability (talent) in this area. The good news is that by investing in training and gaining experience, you can develop skills in any area of your career. Let me share a personal story. When I was first hired into the recruitment industry a number of years ago, one of my colleagues pulled me aside and shared in his blunt and direct way that I needed to look people in the eye when I shook their hand. That word of wisdom has stayed with me for many years. The eyes are the window of the soul, and are thus the place where we start communicating trust, sincerity and confidence. That one observation has opened up many doors that may have otherwise remained shut. I had strong hard skills - reading people, negotiation and problem solving. However, breakthrough success starts with the ability to greet people in a professional manner. That day, I picked up a new skill that I have applied to every occasion that I meet a person.


The ultimate example of the role your soft skills play, is the job interview. You may have a law degree (hard skill) from a great university, however, if your confidence is lacking or you are not persuasive in the way you share what your hard skills can do for the law firm, you most likely will not get the position that you have trained for. One client recently commented on why she was hired for her new role. "It was for my soft skills. I had no experience in the health care industry". Like Mark says, "soft skills, used strategically, have never been more important to grow your success and get ahead of the competition".


One of the great things about being human is our ability to change, grow, adapt and learn. Mark commented that "No one fails permanently and everyone possesses the ability to succeed". The encouraging news is that you most likely have the strong hard skills to do a great job in what you are doing now. Like my own story, noticing and adapting your soft skills will open up a whole new channel of opportunity for you.


The reality is that you need both soft and hard skills, but paying attention and developing both is important. How many hours and how much money did you invest getting your education (a hard skill)? How much time and money have you invested strengthening your soft skills? We invest in what we believe will help move our careers forward - invest wisely.


Looking you in the eye, along the road with you!






Alan Kearns is associated with the What Color Is Your Parachute? career search team, as well as being certified in the Highlands Career Assessment Methodology and the DISC Personal Profile. Alan was a founding member of the International Association of Coaches (IAC) and also has memberships with the Career Masters Institute (CMI) and the International Association of Career Management Professionals (IACMP).