As you will see throughout this post, there are some specific skills to learn if you want to work online. Depending on the industry you might need to learn about online marketing, real estate, web administration, etc. While these can be different and quite industry-related, there are some universal skills you need to have to be able to succeed online. Those include:
Most of the time, when you work online your job will be quite flexible. You will usually have a deadline for some tasks and sometimes you might be required to have specific working hours. However, in many cases how you organize your working day is completely up to you. You might work every day for three to four hours. You might prefer working 10 hours a day, and then taking a day or two off. Also, you can work during the night if you prefer that. You can work from home, from the beach, from an office, etc.
Although this flexibility is quite tempting, and actually one of the most common reasons why people see working online as such a “dream job”, this comes with a big responsibility. You will need to organize your working hours and you will be responsible for meeting deadlines. If you are the kind of person who procrastinates a lot and always does things last minute, you might find working from home stressful.
The main problem will be your inability to organize your tasks and create a sort of plan for each working day. To avoid getting this in the way of a promising career, you can do the following:
• Create a monthly/weekly planner
• Create daily to-do lists
• Use reminders
• Hire an assistant who can organize your time and basically tell you what and when you need to do
Essentially, you will need to manage your time, your projects and your activities, which all require good organization, paying attention to the details and being able to successfully meet the deadlines.
Most of the communication in such a career is done in a written form. Sometimes you might never meet people you are working with; you will never know their voice, the way they talk, etc. This means that the nonverbal aspect of communication is missing and this can significantly affect your conversations. You will not be able to rely on body language to deduct the meaning of certain expressions, nor will you have that “reading between the lines” moment when you are reading an email.
Another factor that has a significant influence on communication is language. A great part of communication online is done in English. People write blog posts, share status updates on social media, and send emails in English. However, a considerable portion of those is not native speakers. This can sometimes create obstacles in communication.
Firstly, a client might misunderstand you if you use too complex sentences without realizing the client is actually a beginner level in English. People who speak English as a second language come from different cultures, so the way they use the language is also different. While using the verb should for giving advice is ok in some countries, some cultures might find it too formal and kind of intrusive. Native speakers see the difference between saying “Could you finish the report by next Monday, please?”, and “Can you finish the report by Monday?” while non-native speakers might not.
You need to understand that communication will make up a massive part of your work. You will have to organize meetings, to discuss the terms of contracts, to negotiate the salary, etc. This means that you need to know the language enough to do so.
Here are some general tips for good communication:
• Greet the recipient in the beginning
• Use modal verbs (could, might, would) to sound more polite
• Don’t be afraid to say please
• Write in the language the recipient will understand
• Use emoticons to replace the nonverbal communication (emoticons are now widely used and acceptable in business correspondence)
• End the message with a positive attitude
Resourcefulness, is the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties, is one of the most important skills to have when working online. In essence, it refers to your ability to find a solution or an answer when you do not know something. For most of the jobs, you will discover in this post, there are no official degrees, or they are just starting out to be introduced. Even if you do have the relevant knowledge, the internet world changes so fast, that you will soon find out that some things are becoming obsolete.
Also, you cannot know everything. There is no need to store a bunch of (ir)relevant information in your mind. Being a walking encyclopedia was something that was respected in the past and knowledgeable people were quite appreciated. Today, there is a different attitude. What is appreciated is being able to find the information you need quickly and easily. Being able to solve the problem on the spot.
One day, you might be in a situation where a client asks you to adjust an effect in the photo using Photoshop software, and you do not have to be an experienced designer to take up this task. You might have never done this kind of task and that is also perfectly fine. As long as you can find out how to do it. You will search the internet, find relevant tutorials, and learn to do this. You will not even bother your client with details of how you did that. You will do the task. That is the thinking process of a resourceful person.
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Working online requires you to be available quite often and responsive to messages. You cannot be one of those people who check their email once a week. As someone who works online, you will need to adopt the internet and the technology to be your daily scenery.
The potential issue that might occur, but one which is necessary to mention, is to become so involved in your online work that you allow this to affect your daily life. The internet work is constantly around you. You can never go home after work and relax because your work is always with you. Just look at your phone, and you will find something you need to “check” or “monitor”. One day, you might be walking down the street and unconsciously start staring at your phone, checking emails, without paying attention that you might run into something.
This is something that happens to a lot of people working online. It is something that people who do not work online cannot relate to. It simply creeps up and quickly consumes your attention in ways that are not healthy. Again, a good organization can help you with fighting this as well as these tips:
• Rent an office or have a separate room in the house where you work (then you can leave your work there)
• Determine office hours and do not check your emails outside of those unless you expect something urgent and time-sensitive
• Find a convenient time to occasionally take a vacation, even for three or four days (but really do this, no phones, no computer, just enjoy the real world and have a sort of an internet detox)
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