Asking good questions can help your career

When you consider the types of skills you need to succeed in your career, it’s common to think about skills that relate specifically to the jobs you are seeking. But there are broader, universal skills, like critical thinking, that are just as important.

One skill that’s rarely considered involves the ability to ask good questions. This skill applies in countless settings, from job interviews, dealing with co-workers and customers, and also in negotiations. One of the best ways to disarm a tough negotiator is to ask very specific questions about the consequences of what they are asking for.

This article discusses questions as a conversational tool, and explains the difference between good and bad questions.

“As someone who had little to no experience in business–outside of running my own one-man freelancing operation–all that’s really saved me (so far) from madness are the skills I used as a journalist,” says Evan Ratliff, who wrote for magazines like The New Yorker before founding his startup, The Atavist. One of those skills, he says, is “being able to formulate questions that deliver useful answers, whether from advisors or clients or whomever.”

Good questions can move your business, organization, or career forward. They squeeze incremental value from interactions, the drops of which add up to reservoirs of insight. Of all the skills innovators can learn from journalists, the art of the expert Q&A is the most useful.

The problem is, most of us ask terrible questions. We talk too much and accept bad answers (or worse, no answers). We’re too embarrassed to be direct, or we’re afraid of revealing our ignorance, so we throw softballs, hedge, and miss out on opportunities to grow.

read the entire article to see some of the examples, and it will help you refine your questioning skills.

Why Online Proficiency Is A Major Career Asset

Time was spending a lot of time on the Internet was a drawback, a professional liability, something that hindered your ability to get work done and properly network with like-minded people. Those days are long over and now the opposite is true. Not only is the Internet an important career tool, it is an important educational tool, as demonstrated by the rise of e-learning options such as South University online courses and other e-campuses flourishing at educational facilities around the nation.

On the career level, online proficiency is seen as a major asset to employers in a variety of fields. The reason for this is that so many business models are evolving and changing in order to become optimized for the web. Not only does online proficiency impress employers—who are often themselves struggling to understand new web tactics—it increases the likelihood of your finding an employer who has a specific need for the skills you possess.

Blogging, for instance, used to be seen as an irrelevant distraction, journalism’s ugly step-brother. Now blogging is viewed as an important part of the Internet and an important mechanism for business growth. Many companies manage blogs on their official sites in order to optimize keywords for the web and drive more traffic.

Blogging is also seen as a powerful journalistic tool that is democratizing the Internet and enabling citizen journalists to document the kinds of international happenings larger news entities may overlook or purposely conceal. In other words, knowledge of blogging tools such as content management systems like WordPress is a powerful asset to be able to list on your resume. You’re essentially telling an employer that you have the key to unlock the door to potent online communities.

Social media is another example of the 180 degree turn the Internet has taken in the eyes of professionals. Once viewed as a trivial waste of time for teenagers, sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other networks are now tools that virtually every business is looking to integrate into their marketing, PR, and outreach strategies. That means that an employee who can demonstrate an ability to use social media in order to create branded campaigns or clever marketing tactics may be a huge asset to the company.

For these reasons—online education, blogging, and social media—and more, online proficiency is a major career asset. Whether you’re looking to enroll in some courses at a Tampa campus or spearheading an SEO campaign for a Fortune 500 company, the ability to utilize web tools is a powerful skill that every burgeoning professional needs to cultivate.

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