No matter what industry you’re in, you’ve probably spent at least some time using networking skills to build relationships that will strengthen your career. It’s a fact that business relationships shouldn’t only be shared with your co-workers.
Networking is an integral part of any profession. You should have at least some networking skills in your arsenal as they are powerful tools for your professional growth.
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Additionally, networking skills are highly sought-after by employers. Companies want their employees to have strong communication and active listening skills, which are key to networking.
Below, we will go over the most powerful networking skills, what it takes to strengthen them, and how to build long-term relationships through networking.
What Are Networking Skills?
Networking skills are those that you use to gain and maintain professional contacts. Networking is necessary for many careers, especially if you work in sales, business development, or a similar industry. The same skills you use for networking will also be applicable when you are trying to develop a relationship with a potential employer.
Additionally, when you’re looking for a job, any previous networking you have done can come in handy. For example, a contact you made years ago may now work at a company you are applying to, giving you an in at that firm.
Top Networking Skills
Networking can be tricky if you are not a seasoned pro on the networking circuit. However, there are top skills you can practice to perfect your pitch.
Communication, social skills, public speaking, positivity, focus, and active listening are all some of the top networking skills across industries. Find out more about these skills below.
Communication is a key part of networking. Without it, you can’t establish or maintain relationships. When appropriate, face-to-face conversations are the preferred way of networking.
However, social media has quickly become a powerful tool for connecting with others. Reaching out to a contact via social media is an excellent way to stay in touch with someone that you’ve already made acquaintance with. LinkedIn is a great social platform for this because it is exclusively used for business relationships.
Whether in person or on the Internet, always be sure to find common ground with your connection and ask important questions that will benefit you and help you learn more about your contact’s profession.
Social skills include verbal and non-verbal skills that you use to interact with others, including gestures, personal appearance, and body language. These skills can convey a range of character traits, including friendliness, kindness, and honesty. Portraying these skills to a new contact can help build trust and create a strong foundation for a new relationship.
Public Speaking Skills
If you need to speak to a group of people simultaneously, you will need to have public speaking skills. If you perfect these skills, you will feel more comfortable in front of a group, or even just one high-profile client. In general conversation, public speaking skills can help improve the way you articulate yourself and make it easier for the person to understand what you are saying.
A positive attitude is a very important skill in life and networking. People are typically drawn to others who are positive and friendly. A cheery outlook can help you develop a solid relationship with the person you are networking with by making you more likable and memorable. It’s definitely a good idea to always greet new people with a smile.
Being able to focus is an important networking skill. You should give the person you are speaking to your absolute full attention. This will help you become an active listener and will enable you to establish a genuine connection with your conversation partner.
Another essential skill for networking is active listening. To create a better connection with someone, you should listen to and understand the needs of that person. To show you are actively listening, you should maintain eye contact and nod your head during the conversation.
Active listening will also help continuously move the conversation forward and will get the person you are connecting with excited about the information you are sharing.
Steps to Improve Your Networking Skills
Don’t worry if you aren’t as familiar with the networking skills listed above as you would like to be. Practice makes perfect and networking is no different. Follow the steps below to improve your networking skills.
Step 1: Practice Your Communication
You can improve many of your networking skills by practicing good communication habits. Ensure you always maintain eye contact when you are in conversation with someone.
Use simple language and follow the other person’s comments with insightful questions. Make sure you are also paying attention to the person’s body language so that you can see whether they agree with what you are saying.
Step 2: Ask for Constructive Feedback
Ask your friends or co-workers for constructive feedback. You can ask your friends how you sound during conversations and how they perceive you based on your communication. This will help you learn how to improve your skills and apply them to a future networking situation.
Step 3: Attend Networking Events
One of the best ways to improve networking skills is by practicing in real life. Trying to build connections at networking events will allow you to meet new people and become more skilled. By asking questions during your conversations, you should be able to focus on the quality of the contacts you are making rather than the quantity.
Finalizing the Connection
Networking: You either love it or you hate it. Either way, you can become better at it through practice.
Basic communication and social skills, and an emphasis on public speaking, positivity, focus, and active listening are at the center of a strong networker. Those who perfect these skills will be making connections around every corner.
Take the time to practice your networking skills by asking for feedback from friends and colleagues, establishing good communication habits, and attending networking events.
Lastly, don’t forget to leave your new contacts with your business card so you can reconnect with them down the road.
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