Jonita and Hasan met at a business conference once. They found several common grounds of interest and exchanged contact details, hoping to stay in touch. Several years later, Jonita decides to make a career change and apply for a different role. To prepare for her interview, she looks up organizational details on LinkedIn. To Jonita’s surprise, she and the head of Human Resources at her desired organization have a mutual connection—Hasan. She reaches out to Hasan immediately and he promises to connect her with the HR head.
This is the power and importance of networking skills in the professional world. We’ve all been in situations where second- or third-degree connections, also known as friends of friends, have helped break the ice with important people. Networking provides the perfect opportunity to meet, interact and connect with like-minded individuals, exchange views and explore opportunities. Let’s look at the meaning of networking skills and their relevance in modern workplace settings.
What Are Networking Skills?
Networking is the ability to exchange information and ideas with individuals and groups that share similar interests. You develop sustainable (long-term) relationships with people for mutual benefit. Networking skills are the abilities or competencies you need to maintain interpersonal connections. They help establish contact and create a two-way communication channel. Beyond the scope of skill development, networking should be developed as a habit as it can accelerate your professional development and career.
They say the most well-connected people are the most successful. Investing your time in relationships can take you a long way. Improving your networking skills not only helps in strengthening relationships but also helps you meet prospective mentors, stay updated with the latest industry trends and gain access to necessary resources for career growth. Even employers emphasize the importance of networking skills as it leads to greater collaboration, teamwork and group efficiency. Networking with both internal and external stakeholders is equally important.
Examples Of Networking Skills
Networking skills encompass a range of listening and speaking skills. Here are some examples of networking skills that are most essential:
Communication is a two-way street; it’s an exchange of ideas, thoughts and perspectives. It’s essential to develop and maintain relationships with others. Communication can be verbal, non-verbal or written. No matter what type of communication you engage in, it’s crucial to pay attention to details.
There’s a significant difference between listening and hearing. The former involves paying attention while the latter doesn’t. If you want to make someone feel heard and valued, it’s important to practice active listening. It further helps you engage with the conversation and ask relevant questions when the time is right.
Public speaking isn’t only restricted to speaking on podiums. It can even be your presentation at a team meeting or giving a farewell speech. This skill is especially important at networking events as it helps captivate people’s attention. Good public speaking skills earn you brownie points from the start of a conversation.
The most important element of networking is empathy. It refers to the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. In other words, you try to feel what someone else is feeling. For example, during a conversation, someone displays discomfort. Your empathy skills will help you identify the emotions and expressions immediately so that you react appropriately.
It may not be as popular as other networking skills but focus enables you to give your full attention to someone. It’s a highly critical skill because people love to be heard as it shows respect. It further helps you pay attention to details and establish a genuine connection by recollecting those details. This shows that you’ve listened to them and paid attention to what they had to share.
Now that you know why networking skills are essential, let’s look at the various ways of developing them.
How To Develop Networking Skills
It’s no secret that networking fuels success. No matter where you go, good networks can help you explore opportunities you never knew existed. Here’s how you can develop and improve your networking ability:
Improve your communication habits by using straightforward and simple language. Leave no room for any misunderstandings. Keep it short, simple and smart
Volunteer for networking events and use these venues as opportunities to perfect the art of networking. Focus on building genuine connections, that is, prioritize quality relationships over quantity
Always pay close attention to body language. Use humor if appropriate in those contexts. Most importantly, monitor your body language as well. Maintain healthy eye contact and smile if needed
All this sounds simple but requires practice. Harappa’s Expanding Networks course will teach you effective strategies to build robust interpersonal networks. High-powered frameworks such as Types of Networks, Key Networkers and The Trust Equation will help you build authentic, diverse and mutually beneficial professional relationships. Let your collaboration skills become your workplace superpower. Try Harappa today!
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Dealing with people, Corporate Social responsibility, How To Manage Office Politics, Types of Group Behavior and Business Skills to build strong professional networks.