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Top Skills for an International Business Career, with Slack L&D Expert

The global business scene is ever-evolving, and what it takes to succeed now in an international business career involves much more than just traditional technical knowledge. Helena Nacinovic, a Learning & Development (L&D) expert at Slack, shares invaluable insights into the key skills you need to make a difference in a multinational company these days. Let’s take a look at the top skills you need to thrive in international business.

Top Skills for an International Business Career

Top Skills For An International Business Career - Talaera

Adaptability and Lifelong Learning

When we asked Helena to mention the top skill to succeed in an international workplace, her answer was clear, “Definitely, the ability to learn being open to constant change.” Embracing change and dedicating yourself to lifelong learning are not just buzzwords but essential strategies for staying ahead. Focus on being proactive and finding ways to keep learning. This approach not only ensures your resilience but also keeps you relevant and forward-thinking in your professional journey.

Curiosity and Critical Thinking Skills

Curiosity and critical thinking skills are key to adopting an innovative mindset. This means always being on the lookout for ways to do things better. Professionals who thrive in international business are those who question the status quo, asking themselves, “Could we be doing this in any different way?” By questioning established norms and exploring uncharted territories, you’re not just contributing to personal growth but also driving your organization forward. This culture of innovation, as Helena suggests, is what sets professionals, and companies, apart.

Presentation skills: the most important skill for any professional

Quote sign“I’m sure that part of the listeners will think, oh this does not apply to me because I am not doing this and that very often. But please work on your presentation skills, no matter which role you’re in. In every role, you’re going to have a moment, or maybe multiple moments, especially as you advance in your career, that you will have to explain to people about your work, about your ideas, about your ambitions, about the work that your team is doing… ” – Helena Nacinovic, L&D expert at Slack

Helena’s advice is clear: work on your presentation skills. Whether you’re addressing a boardroom or a Zoom call, presentation skills are crucial, regardless of your job and industry. Presentation skills are not just about public speaking. It’s about effectively communicating your work, ideas, ambitions, and the essence of team projects. Many highly skilled professionals in the tech world and beyond are unable to showcase the brilliant work they do due to poor presentation skills. Whether you’re addressing a room full of people, presenting virtually, or simply explaining a concept in a meeting, the clarity, engagement, and persuasion you bring to your presentation can significantly impact your audience. “You never know when you might get 20 minutes with the boss of your boss’s boss and have the opportunity to make a good impression, get your ideas forward, and have a bigger impact.”

Prepare, focus on clarity, and make sure others enjoy listening to you. A common misconception is that good presentation skills are something you’re either born with or not. Helena counters this notion by asserting that anyone can become an effective presenter with the right approach and practice. It’s not about transforming into a “show person” but about learning to convey your messages with clarity and conviction.

Prepare and Deliver Impactful Presentations in English - Talaera

Cross-cultural Communication

Approach cross-cultural interactions with openness, curiosity, and respect. Developing your Cultural Intelligence (CQ) not only strengthens teamwork but also fosters a more inclusive and productive environment. When Helena Nacinovic moved from Brazil to Europe, she experienced first-hand that what felt familiar and predictable turned into an exciting but tricky world to navigate. She quickly learned the importance of being open and curious, rather than making assumptions based on her own cultural background. For example, questions that might seem safe in one culture could be considered intrusive or inappropriate in another. This realization underscored the need for sensitivity and adaptability when navigating the complex dynamics of multicultural teams. Sometimes, it’s better to share a bit about yourself first or choose more universal topics to break the ice.

For those who aren’t native English speakers, it’s important to seek clarity and be open to asking questions. Adapting your communication style based on feedback and observations can significantly improve your ability to engage in global business environments effectively.

Setting Boundaries

The ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance is key if you want to succeed in the long term. While there is a time when you might need to go the extra mile and compromise some fun time, Helena points out that engaging in hobbies and social activities outside work fuels motivation and prevents burnout. But not just that – those relaxed and enjoyable moments are also sources of inspiration and innovation.

Moreover, understanding and respecting colleagues’ boundaries, especially in remote and globally distributed teams, cultivates a supportive and empathetic workplace atmosphere.

Mastery of Digital Communication Tools

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In the digital age, proficiency with tools like Slack is not just beneficial but essential. Helena shares that understanding how to leverage these tools for effective communication, collaboration, and time management is vital for enhancing team productivity and ensuring that work flows smoothly without overwhelming anyone. When it comes to using Slack, for example, learn how to use it wisely. Understand the platform’s features to communicate effectively, such as scheduling messages, setting notification preferences, and using reminders to manage your workload without intruding into others’ personal time. To be a “Good Slack Citizen,” as Helena points out, be mindful of how Slack notifications work and avoid unnecessary pings to colleagues to prevent overwhelming them.

Here are some additional quick tips on how to better use Slack:

  • Be proactive in setting expectations. Open discussions about communication norms and expectations can help establish a healthy, balanced approach to collaboration and ensure that all team members are on the same page.
  • Use visual cues. Emojis and GIFs can help convey tone and intent, adding a layer of clarity to digital communication.
  • Focus on clear and direct communication. In professional settings, especially when using platforms like Slack, it’s crucial to be clear and direct and provide context to avoid misunderstandings.

Helena Nacinovic is a Senior Learning Consultant at Slack with nearly 20 years of experience in corporate learning. She specializes in digital learning and has experience working in diverse international workplaces.

Helena Nacinovic, Learning Consultant at Slack

Keep learning

Thriving in a global work environment goes beyond just getting the job done. It’s about connecting, learning, and growing together, celebrating the diversity of cultures that make up our workplaces. While we may come from different corners of the world, it’s our shared experiences and willingness to understand each other that truly bring us together.

Talaera’s business English and culture training can play a pivotal role in enhancing communication skills and cultural competence, empowering you and your team to thrive in any global work environment.

Business English Courses for Career Success - Talaera

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