Networking skills are the competencies you need to maintain professional or social contacts, as well as provide you with learning opportunities, promotional opportunities, jobs, and more.
Networking is a critical skill in sales, business development, and several other industries. The wrong connections, on the other hand, can drag your career down to mediocrity levels.
Building contacts and maintaining relationships with others is an important part of networking. Also, it can be an invaluable skill if you’re searching for a new job, starting your own business, or looking for inspiration.
1– The ability to build relationships
The key to business, and a successful job hunt, is building strong relationships with people over time.
The first thing you need to do is shift your mindset to focus on people, not opportunities. Ask insightful questions; better questions receive better answers.
Over time you’re going to come across people who become power contacts as you become more connected with those in your industry. These people will be the ones who are constantly introducing you to new and interesting further contacts, referring you to others for more work, and just generally pushing your business forward.
Remember, you don’t need to know the most people, just the right people.
2- The ability to listen attentively
Another important networking skill is active listening. If you want people to get excited about your business and what you’re sharing with them, you need to listen to and understand their needs.
The practice of active listening can be broken down into 5 steps:
A- Show genuine interest. Pay attention to every single word/phrase, and to the body language.
B- Show that you’re listening. Maintain eye contact nodding your head to show you understand what they’re saying.
C- Ask the right questions to keep the conversation moving forward, and resist the impulse to prepare your response while the other person is still speaking.
D- Don’t interrupt with rebuttals. Consciously push away your default assumptions. Wait until the other person has finished speaking before you form judgments.
E- Always respond appropriately. Be honest, respectful, and open.
3– The ability to effective communication
Good communication skills are the most important factor in differentiating successful individuals in business. We all know of people that are incredibly smart but cannot communicate effectively, limiting their career progression. It is therefore very important for our communication to be as effective as possible.
Let’s compare these two similar sentences:
“I recently discovered your work in WordPress. I want to interview you on your new project by this Saturday, we have very identical audiences.” vs. “Hi, I would be honored if we could do a quick interview sometime soon on your new project. I am a huge fan, and my audience loves your work.”.
While both saying the same thing, you likely realized that #2 was more inviting and using positive language to get the same message across, but without the frankness —which can be misinterpreted for arrogance or rudeness— of the #1 example.
4- The ability to frame things in a positive way
This skill is one of the most important of all because with the right mindset you can usually avoid many of the big networking mistakes or misunderstandings out there.
By remaining positive, you will ensure that when you do finally meet someone that can help you, you will be able to give both a great first impression and a strong reason why they should collaborate in your job hunt/collaborators/investors, due to people seeing you as a positive person, always ready to tackle new challenges.
Focusing on taking the positive bits first instead of saying “no” right off the bat is a strategy for framing things positively.
From a neuroscience perspective, we are absolutely what we pay attention to.
If what we practice in our thoughts and our speech is a positive slant on the world, that will become the default lens through which we process what happens to us.
Remember, negative thoughts take us to negative places. If you can’t have a good attitude, act as if you do and it will come eventually.
5- The ability to be credible
Trust often comes down to a matter of credibility, specifically yours. If people like you they will trust you, and if they trust you they will do business with you.
So, take a look into these 5 specific qualities that help you to earn credibility:
A- Be accountable for your actions: If you make a mistake, own it, fix it, and move on. Do not try to blame others.
B- Be respectful: Treat everyone with respect —not because you expect something, but because you know they deserve it. A leader is never respected because of his power but the righteous utilization of that power.
C- Focus on your goals: People follow only those who have a clear goal in their mind, a destination. Therefore, you must focus on what you need to achieve in the long run and how you should take your work to the next level.
D- Be an expert at what you do: Keep Learning. Be aware of new trends but don’t buy them blindly, become someone with the ability to analyze a situation, and develop several potential solutions.
E- Be honest: Transparency is a keystone to business and the core source of credibility. A credible person is one that relies on honesty and does not lie to get some incentive or upper hand in the game. If you are dishonest, sooner or later, everything falls apart.
“Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come.” — Diane Helbig
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