Every time you do something to increase the number of your acquaintances, relationships, and business opportunities, be it a business lunch or a humanitarian concert, you are essentially employing your networking skills to meet new individuals who can help you in a variety of ways.
But even more important than meeting new people is staying in touch with them! That’s where certain networking skills come into play, without which it is nearly impossible to maintain a successful career.
So, we’ve created this guide to help you learn about the meaning of networking skills and how to improve them. Let’s jump in!
- Networking is one of the most deciding factors for success in today’s business world, and it entails making friends and partnerships, as well as expanding one’s network of contacts, with the goal of developing ties that can be mutually beneficial in both everyday and business life.
- Pay close attention to networking skills such as active listening, communication, projecting confidence, body language, and empathy because these are some of the most essential and effective networking skills.
- Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, keep in mind that each of us belongs to a certain social and business status. By applying the advice provided here and focusing on personal growth, you have the potential to achieve your goals.
What is Networking?
In the simplest terms, networking means meeting new people. However, what sets networking apart is the underlying purpose of such connections.
Most often, the term “networking” is associated with the business world, that is, meeting new people in business and similar or related environments, all with the end goal of securing a path to a certain result.
Such a result can be finding a new job, helping your business find new partners, or entering a new market. You can easily see the importance of networking through a commonly used definition that states that man is a social being and that his existence depends on cooperation with other people.
If, for example, you meet a web designer at a charity concert of the XYZ organization and, while talking, you realize that he has the relevant experience to make a website for the sale of massage devices more visible. So, discussing this opportunity and possible cooperation represents one of the most common forms of networking.
If both of you end up satisfied with your cooperation and later recommend each other for similar opportunities, then it is clear how powerful a tool networking can be.
Why Are Networking Skills Important?
For successful networking, you need a good set of networking skills. If you work on yourself and develop the skills we list in this article, you will see the importance of networking skills through the following benefits:
- Developing long-term and quality relationships. In order for someone to help you, it is necessary to establish mutual trust. Mutual giving and taking, helping and accepting advice, all lead to such a relationship. Even if a person can’t help you in your work or business, having built a relationship full of trust, you will have friends for life.
- New opportunities and new knowledge. Networking implies that you will meet people from your industry. This implies that you will meet people who are more experienced than you, who have a different vision and various approaches to achieving their goals, and this means new opportunities and knowledge for you.
- Support from individuals in your network. When everything is going according to plan, the people in your network will help things stay that way. But when you encounter a crisis, when your business is faced with diminishing results, or you have lost your job, then you will realize the true value of a great, well-nurtured network. Those who know that you are dedicated, open-minded, and result-oriented will be happy to help you find a new job or find new clients.
10 Most Crucial Networking Skills & How to Develop Them
From early childhood through adulthood, people interact with others in a variety of social settings, including kindergarten, school, and the workplace. These environments and certain events lead you to make contact with other people.
Keep in mind that it takes time and effort to first identify the right career path, and that will determine which everyday and business networking skills will be the most valuable for you.
We’ll walk you through the benefits and the steps you can take to improve your own networking skills.
Let’s explore the top 10 networking skills examples.
#1. Active Listening
Don’t be in such a hurry to change the subject or force your own story or interests into the conversation; instead, pay close attention to what other people are saying, ask them thoughtful, relevant questions about the topic they are presenting, and try not to steal the spotlight.
True learning occurs by actively listening to others. When you do this, you not only show the other person that you value their thoughts and opinions, but you also increase the likelihood that they will approach you with questions and curiosity about hearing your perspective.
If you want to master this ability and put it to use, you should practice maintaining a state of calm and relaxation, not being in a hurry, and waiting for the appropriate moment before mentioning your own experience so you don’t disrupt the natural flow of the story.
#2. Communication Skills
If you want to make a positive impression, you need to demonstrate your competence and understanding through clear, concise, and impactful communication. If you prepare ahead of time and pay close attention during your conversation, you’ll be able to ask relevant questions and explain your conclusions and insights well.
Keep in mind that when delivering your presentation, you should highlight the most crucial points, be brief and to the point, and avoid going into unnecessary depth. Also, pay close attention to your written word, as you are making an impression through email and social media correspondence as well.
#3. Body Language
Some aspects of what’s going on in your head are revealed involuntarily through your body language.
Wiggling, looking through the individual, and failing to make direct eye contact are all behaviors you should avoid if you want to appear professional and interested. By doing this, you are signaling to your conversation partner that you are bored and disinterested in what they are saying.
To get an idea of how you act, practice your body language in front of a mirror. You can also ask for feedback from your friends on your appearance and what you could improve or change.
#4. Being Positive
Keep a positive outlook and an optimistic attitude at all times, as this will serve to encourage and inspire not only yourself but those around you as well.
Keep in mind that positive thinking gives energy and power to those around you. In contrast, if all you have are complaints, you will have a negative impact on others and drain their energy.
How you feel about yourself has a significant impact on how others perceive and treat you. Therefore, always try to project confidence, because people like to be around people who are stable and confident.
However, avoid projecting a false sense of confidence, as recognizing your flaws and fears and confronting them is also a form of strength. Only when you accept and address those parts of yourself can you truly advance and be confident in yourself.
Try to see things from another person’s perspective as often as you can. Having compassion for the other person will help the bond between you grow stronger.
Empathy, however, is not the same as sharing the other person’s feelings; it simply means that you can relate to and understand their perspective. Being open and honest about your point of view is always appreciated.
To cultivate empathy, one must put themselves in the shoes of another and consider how they would like to be treated if they were in a similar situation. It’s crucial because that’s how lasting relationships are created.
#7. Public Speaking
It’s okay if you get nervous or scared when you have to speak in public. Most people go through it. But when it comes to networking, this is a very important part.
At some point, you’ll have to talk to more people and tell them about your idea. But don’t worry; this is a skill that can be learned and honed.
All you have to do is practice, practice, and practice some more. Also, there are great courses that can help you get over your fears of speaking in front of people.
Networking is not a sporadic activity reserved for moments of need; rather, it should integrate seamlessly into your social life and overall approach to life. For instance, if your area of interest aligns with the discussions held by businessmen at the Chamber of Commerce every Thursday, attending such gatherings would be beneficial.
Equally important is recognizing the impact of certain networking activities on your desired outcomes. If an activity consistently fails to yield results, it becomes evident that your attention and efforts are better directed elsewhere. Therefore, the key lies in engaging in networking activities organically, without feeling compelled or obliged to do so.
#9. Pay Attention to the Details
Professional and creative business cards will always leave a good impression and make people think of you every time they see them.
Also, remember to send a birthday card from the company, congratulate your business partners on their birthdays, and visit the events they organize. That way, people will see that you are really interested in their work, and you will deepen your relationship.
#10. Be Focused and Practice Constantly
Now that we have presented the key networking skills, it is important that you know that they, like all other skills, can be practiced.
Try to improve your communication and public performance; be focused on what others are saying; and ask questions in order to gain complete insight into something that is important to you. It will project your professionalism.
5 Extra Tips to Consider When Networking
Professional appearance. It’s important that you present yourself professionally. As a result, if you look good, have a good attitude, and have confidence in yourself, the rest will come to you naturally.
Do your homework. Prepare yourself for the event; this will boost your self-confidence and courage. Consider carefully what you want to be informed about as well as potential questions.
Be mindful of your posture. Keep in mind that your posture conveys an image of how you really feel. Therefore, stand up straight, orient yourself towards the people you’re conversing with, and nod occasionally to show that you’re paying attention and approve of what they’re saying.
Arrive early. Come to the event early so you have time to relax, get to know the surroundings, and communicate with someone without excessive noise. If you are not comfortable in a crowd, this will be all the more helpful.
Bring an extroverted friend. Remember that even if you don’t like being around people, your greatest strength is your ability to listen to others, so you can bring a friend who will lead the conversation while you have the opportunity to listen to others, chime in as necessary, and ask relevant questions.
After going over the essential networking skills, we want to underline once more the importance of knowing what career path you want to take. Being clear on this will make it easier to begin making useful connections because you will know which circles you need to get into and share information and experiences with, as well as gain relevant knowledge.
Also, be sure to remember that being a good person and being aware of your strengths and weaknesses are necessities for being a true professional. Therefore, when developing networking skills, remember to be sincere, understanding, have a positive attitude, and have the desire to learn and improve.