Though formal study is important, it’s not the only way to build business skills. In addition to earning a diploma like a MSc in International Business Management, there are a range of other ways you can build business skills.
If you want to develop business skills, it’s important to consider not only traditional hard skills and business knowledge, but also soft skills and others that may not immediately spring to mind.
Some of the key skills that are essential for being successful in business include:
- Team management and leadership
- Financial management
- Effective communication
- The ability to delegate
- Project management
- Negotiation skills
With such a complex range of diverse skills, it makes sense that you can’t develop all of these skills with a single approach, but rather you need to combine formal education, work experience, and unconventional methods if you want to build a truly strong skillset that will set you up for success.
How to Build Business Skills (Other than Studying)
1. Network, Network, Network
Networking is probably one of the most valuable things you can do to advance your career, whether you want to work as an executive, specialised professional, or an entrepreneur. The larger and more diverse your network, the more resources you’ll have access to, as well as more opportunities to build useful skills.
As part of building your network, try to find a mentor who can guide you and help you with your professional development. The advice and support of an experienced mentor can let you work out which business skills you should build and how to make that happen.
2. Be Inspired by Leaders in the industry
Listening to inspiring leaders can also go a long way to help you build business skills, even if you don’t know them personally.
Listening to podcasts – both business-related and more general-focused podcasts – is a great way to tap into the incredible pool of knowledge that exists online. You can also join professional organisations and attend talks and conferences to hear from leaders in the sector and get inspired.
Reading books is also a great way to learn and be inspired by leaders – many business leaders have written guides and autobiographies that are both inspirational and informative. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the syllabus or suggested reading lists provided by business schools.
However, keep in mind that these books don’t need to be business-specific, there are many life lessons that can be applied to business – reading anything that will open your mind and resonate with you will help you in your work as an executive or entrepreneur.
3. Work in Diverse Industries to broaden your business skills
Never underestimate the importance of professional experience, and in particular diverse experiences. Working in a diverse range of industries and, if possible, in different types of roles is one of the best ways to build a broad skill set that will allow you to be successful in business.
If you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to secure a role without experience, so unpaid internships can be one way to get your foot in the door and build your resume.
Also keep in mind that work experience doesn’t have to be directly relevant to your future career in order to be valuable. For example, working at a fast food restaurant can teach you customer service, inventory control, point of sale, team management, and many other critical skills for business!
4. Learn new business skills from your Peers
Leaders and mentors can teach us a lot, but so can those around us. Whether as part of your work, study, or personal life, take every opportunity to learn from your peers.
Ask your colleagues to teach you their own technical skills or share their knowledge about a certain subject. You can even pick up valuable skills by simply observing how your peers do things or handle specific situations.
Degrees that strongly emphasise networking like EDHEC’s online programmes are a great way to connect with and learn from others. Not only does EDHEC’s diverse student cohort have an incredible range of collective experience, but you may meet future business partners, suppliers, or collaborators.
5. Keep up to Date
Many essential business skills – communication, team management, for example – are as old as business itself.
However, others come into prominence as the business world develops, and new technologies emerge. This is why it’s so important to keep up with the latest developments and continually update your skills.
Read blogs and subscribe to newsletters to stay across the latest business trends and keep up-to-date with industry news and developments.
You can also take online courses to update your skills and learn about the latest tools, theories, and technologies. Short courses are great for developing specific, niche skills, or you could sign up for a recognised online diploma like EDHEC’s Online MSc in Corporate Finance for more intensive, in-depth study.
Never Stop Building Business Skills
Like anything, developing business skills is an ongoing process. The most successful business leaders are life-long learners who understand that it’s important to continue to grow and develop, as well as adapt to the ever-changing landscape of business.
Combine formal and informal education to build a broad range of excellent business skills.