- What are the most important soft skills every tech professional should have?
The ability to effectively present ideas to key stakeholders in the business. I suppose this soft skill is akin to communication – and in truth, it’s an amalgamation of two other soft skills – selling and communication – but presenting comes in all forms of interaction. I see it as a business necessity, from winning client contracts, earning their trust and encouraging them to execute on the technical recommendations you prescribe.
- Why are these the most important?
I work in a technical SEO agency and we have to pitch website recommendations to clients, that, let’s face it, don’t understand the importance of what we’re asking for and can’t see where the uplift or ROI comes into play.
This is why I think the most important soft skill for any tech professional is the ability to present. Especially as, on the face of things, the idea of presenting seems to fly in the face of the personality type typically associated with the tech world.
Getting your ideas out the door and enabling key stakeholders in the business to action them – whether from client or agency side – is key to your success as a techy.
- What do these skills help with, in the tech environment?
Presentations can be anything from a one-on-one conversation with your manager to team or board meetings.
You need to be able to clearly articulate the ROI of whatever technical implementation you’re recommending as well as giving a clear understanding of resources and the time scale required for benefits to be fully realised.
Great ideas won’t see the day of light if your seniors can’t understand what they’re about.
Working on your approachability, verbal communication, such as tone of voice, and your familiarity with presentation tools will greatly help to strengthen your presentation skills.
- In your personal experience, what soft skill has helped you the most in your tech career?
As a technical SEO, I often have to explain technical processes in clear, easy-to-understand terms. We audit websites and present back the findings in a backlog ticketing system. We also prepare outreach for digital PR efforts.
SEO’s are a particular breed of blood hungry sharks who can smell a nofollow link a mile off – its very important to balance the argument when presenting a case to publishers that yes, you want a link from their site as a way for your client to gain credit for some data or market insight they’ve provided, and no, it’s not just about link acquisition (which, of course, it is). Coming across as either too technical or too salesly can frighten or irritate journalists to the point that they don’t consider using your article.