Regardless of your position in the organization, you need networking skills to connect with people, build relationships and sustain them.
Salesmen with proficiency in networking skills are able to strike more deals and close more sales than their counterparts.
Also, managers who have these skills in their arsenal are able to build new business connections and strengthen existing ones with partners, clients, and investors.
Many great relationships today started off through networking in a conference room, at a sports league, or even on social media networks.
Moreso, one of the greatest assets you need to advance your career within and outside the organization is people.
Hence, connecting with the right always pay off in the end because they can help you access opportunities that would have been difficult or impossible to access.
Let’s explore what networking skills are, their examples, how to improve on them, and how to highlight them in your resume, cover letter, and during interviews.
What Is networking?
To understand what networking skills are, it would be best that we explore what networking is. Networking is the process of building new relationships with people and sustaining existing ones.
There is no holy grail to networking with people. It may decide to reach out to a person one-on-one or meet with a group of people.
Regardless of the method, you choose to adopt, you need to arm yourself with networking skills to be proficient in networking.
That said, let us consider what networking skills are.
Definition Of Networking Skills
Networking skills are the abilities and competencies that help an individual connect with others and build long-lasting mutual relationships.
These skills can help you to access individuals that you admire, and connect with new clients, prospective investors, or anyone for that matter.
Furthermore, through these skills, you can easily advance your career and open many doors of opportunities for yourself and your organization.
Moreso, by learning and sharing knowledge with people of different ages, backgrounds, and walks of life, you broaden your scope of knowledge and expertise.
Examples Of Networking Skills
Every successful networking starts with effective communication. It is the host of many other networking skills. It encompasses the ability to share your thoughts and ideas with clarity, as well as give feedback accordingly.
Regardless of your expertise, portfolio, or achievement, the inability to communicate your thoughts and ideas with precision will make people easily lose interest in relating to you.
As such, the ability to communicate effectively is critical for connecting with new people, making people understand your reason for connecting with them, and nurturing existing relationships.
2. Public Speaking
Public speaking skills are priced skills for networking with others, particularly, when you are amidst a group of people. Possessing excellent oratory skills presents you as a person of value and helps you gain the attention of people easily.
The ability to share your wealth of experience and vast knowledge with great confidence and fluency in public speaking skills.
It is important to note that public speaking skill is not innate, it is learned. And the fact that you are a successful businessman or entrepreneur doesn’t mean that you would be able to command the stage, woo your audience, and impact value in them.
It is important for you to learn the art of presentation, storytelling, comportment, confidence, and dealing with the audience to be proficient in public speaking.
Empathy is a way of identifying with the feeling and emotional state of an individual. You don’t necessarily have to be in a person’s shoes to empathize with them.
Words are powerful tools for showing empathy. A simple statement like “That must have hurt a lot, I’m so sorry to hear that” can go a long way to help an individual feel better.
Sharing a story that showed your vulnerability while you experienced a similar case to the other person equally works perfectly while empathizing with others.
4. Active Listening
Active listening means giving rapt and undivided attention to someone during a conversation. This involves quite a number of things. From your gesture to eye contact, body language, and feedback, others can judge if you’re really listening to them or not.
Paying attention to others is really important while trying to connect with them. It shows how interested you are in them. Likewise, it is a good way to tell someone that you value and care about them.
Hence, actively listening to others when they talk to you, maintaining eye contact with them, and responding appropriately while conversing can help you build an individual’s interest in you.
Nobody wants to be associated with negativity. Rather, people associate with someone who can spur them on and give them the boost and drive to achieve their goals.
Therefore, displaying optimism and enthusiasm while conversing with others makes you likable. You’d also most likely be the go-to person when others want to share their ideas with someone or when they are in a messy situation.
Positivity however is not keeping a blind eye to fears or uncertainties, rather it means putting these fears in perspective and seeing a way forward through every challenge.
Humor can come in handy when networking with people. It is the quality of being funny or amusing. You can easily flip a person’s bad mood, ease their tension and make their day when you use humor rightly.
You don’t necessarily have to come up with a joke to be funny, you can share a funny event that happened during the day or some time past. However, you should be careful not to go overboard by saying something offensive or insensitive.
How To Network The Right Way
1. Offer Value
The hallmark of every successful relationship is that it is of mutual benefit to both parties. Even if your aim is to access opportunities from your connection with an individual, it is best that you do not put your interest first.
What you should do instead before meeting with a person you admire and wish to connect with is to ask yourself “what do I have to offer?”. Positioning yourself as a person who is willing to give rather than receive immediately puts you in a person’s good book.
2. Seek avenues for networking
Social media networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are excellent platforms to build and nurture new relationships whether for professional or personal purposes.
Moreso, joining professional bodies in line with your career is a great way of connecting with professionals across all levels as they often organize events that bring everyone together.
Furthermore, seminars and workshops present unlimited opportunities to connect with professionals and colleagues that can help advance your career and bring many opportunities your way. The more you put yourself out there, the more confidence and interpersonal skills you build.
3. Focus on quality, not quantity
Instead of exhausting yourself by trying to connect with a large number of people at an event, it is better to focus on lesser people, say five to ten persons. This way you can really get to spend quality time with each of them, know them, and arouse their interest in you.
4. Follow up
Networking is not a one-off activity. It is a lifelong process that involves proactively reaching out to people or an organization again and again.
This is because, people are swamped with a lot of things on their plate, so you need to take the time to reach out to them especially knowing that you have a goal in mind.
Following people up keeps you on top of their minds, and in case they have a problem that you can solve or opportunities that they think will be of benefit to you they will gladly call you up.
5. Be more of a listener when dealing with clients or prospects
The best way to deal with clients or prospects is to allow them to express themselves while you listen to all they have to say. One way to do this is to ask intelligent and open-ended questions or ask them to share and tell you exactly how they feel.
Understanding exactly how they feel will help you easily profer solutions to their problems. Moreso, it makes clients feel safe and at ease with you.
How To Improve Your Networking Skills
Here are the ways by which you can hone your networking skills and become a better networker:
1. Be open to criticism
Being open-minded means having the willingness to learn, unlearn, and relearn. One of the best ways to improve your networking skills is to ask for feedback and criticisms from your friends, colleagues, or relatives about how you relate with people.
But, it doesn’t end there, you must be ready to accept their criticism without trying to defend yourself. Afterward, constantly seek to work on them and improve on those criticisms.
As you progress, continue to get approval about those aspects where you are lacking from them and keep putting in the effort to become better. Over time, you’d eventually get better and even eliminate your flaws eventually.
2. Read books
You can never go wrong with reading books on how to become better at connecting with people or building relationships. The book written by Dale Carnegie “How to win friends and influence people” is an excellent book for anyone seeking to improve their networking skills.
There is a myriad of free and paid books on relationship building that you can read. Moreso, reading books broadens your horizons and makes you smarter.
3. Get a mentor or a coach
Mentors have a wealth of knowledge that they can share. Hence, connecting with one who has a proven track record of networking skills can help you gain vast knowledge on how to network best.
Moreso, by sharing his experience with you, you’d be able to apply some of these lessons you’ve gained to your advantage too.
Furthermore, some individuals are coaches who specialize in helping people become better at networking and building influence. They usually offer their services for a price, and they often guarantee great results for their clients, so, getting one would do you much good.
Why are networking skills important?
They are important because they help you connect with people and build long-lasting relationships that are beneficial to your career growth.
Do employers value networking skills?
Yes. Every employer seeks employees with networking skills as they can help the organization gain more customers and investors. Furthermore, they help employees to build good relationships with their colleagues.
How can you improve your networking skills?
You can improve your networking skills by attending conferences and seminars. Getting a mentor or coach will also help a lot.
Considering all that has been discussed in this article, there is no denying that every individual needs networking skills.
As a matter of fact, your networking skills determine your career progress. If you have this skill in your arsenal, you can build connections with highly influential individuals. This can help you land opportunities that others aspire for.
Hence, you can proactively develop your networking skills by putting yourself out there and meeting with new people. Also, reading new books can broaden your knowledge and thought process and help you improve with networking.
If you wish to know about relevant skills that can help you thrive in today’s marketplace, I advise that you check the article on skills that can change your life forever.
Cheers to greater influence and influx of networks.
Thanks for reading.