by: Allison Colin-Thome

There is a not-so-quiet revolution happening within our career and the world of work. And I think we can point to technology as the main culprit. The push to produce has been steadily increasing. We e-mail co-workers as they sit a few feet away from us. Remote into our company’s server with VPN while watching Netflix. We Slack each other questions and ‘to-dos’ at all hours of the day.

Is it all making us more or less productive? Enter the Connection Economy. Coined by Seth Godin, the focus here is on building relationships and real connections with people to be effective. And it values a whole host of new skills that our prior Industrial Economy would have no doubt rolled their eyes at.

So, without further ado, the Top 3 Career Skills for the New Year (drumroll please):

Creativity

You don’t have to sing like Adele or act like Emma Stone. I’m talking about the out-of-the-box thinking required to create new solutions to your problems. In the Connection Economy, we do this by collaborating with one another. Taking time to learn from the diverse perspectives of individuals with different experiences allows teams to come up with the best solutions.

If you’re like me, you’ll find it hard at first. School doesn’t exactly teach you to think for yourself. But I promise you it’s a muscle that can be developed. Start by looking at every task or goal as a problem to be solved. Ask yourself, what are the tools or knowledge needed to reach success here? If you do that with every challenge you face, whether personal or professional, you’ll jumpstart your creative juices for years to come!

Emotional Intelligence

In this new economy, if your success depends on working with others in such a close way, then learning to manage your emotions effectively is of vital importance. People with high EQ are better at managing stress, dealing with interpersonal conflict and building meaningful relationships. All of which, will surely you an edge in the workplace.

Here’s the really great news, unlike it’s distant relative, IQ, which tends to stay the same over time, you can greatly improve your EQ with simple exercises. Start by noticing the next time you’re triggered. It can be as small as receiving an email that’s worded a tad too abruptly. When you feel that fire in your belly, stop yourself before you act and instead, reflect on what is going on inside of you. Put yourself into the other person’s shoes and get curious about what they were thinking, feeling and intending. It’s not easy, but the payoff will be your secret weapon.

Develop sales skills, regardless of your career

Some people call it persuasion, others influence. But let’s just call it what it is, sales! Even if you’re a number-cruncher with a cubicle in the back corner of the office the art of the sell is worth learning. It’s important to be able to convince others that your ideas and contributions are valuable. Furthermore, you’ll need to be able to advocate for yourself; whether it’s a raise, a remote work day or an extended vacation you’re vying for. In corporate speak – you need to get ‘buy-in’.

There are tons of ways you can develop your sales ability. But we want to start small, not push you out of the gate to become the next Jordan Belfort of Wall Street! I recommend to start with listening. Really pay close attention to the needs and wants that are important to the people you are speaking with. Then, when the time comes to ‘sell’ that person on an idea, you will be able to communicate how it is a benefit to them by aligning it with the needs and/or wants they have previously expressed to you. Shhh, don’t tell them our secret!

So, there you have it, the top 3 career skills we think you should be developing this year. One thing is clear, for all the talk of the tech takeover, the human touch remains incredibly important. Building connections, thinking creatively and advocating for our ideas and needs in the workplace well, there are no apps for that. In this Connection Economy, we are our own superpowers.

Allison Colin-Thome heads up Career Off Script, where she helps Millennials find meaningful work they love. After a bumpy journey of her own, Allison left her career in Corporate HR to start her business while spending time in Colombia learning Spanish. When she isn’t working on www.careeroffscript.com,  she can be found sipping Earl Grey in a midtown Toronto cafe.