With good networking skills, you can build relationships and businesses. However, you have to be ready to work tirelessly to establish these. Effective networking skills require effort and time. Therefore, you need to be patient and have a positive mindset to learn how to improve your networking skills.
Networking skills can give you the business connections you aspire to have.
Networking can be a face-to-face conference meeting or a virtual meeting.
As important as communication and soft skills, networking skills are also essential for business and personal relationships.
To be successful in business, you need to have networking skills because it is what you need to take your business to a whole new level.
Hence, we will discuss what networking skills are, the important networking skills you need, and how to improve networking skills.
Let’s get started…
What Do We Mean by Networking Skill?
Networking skills are a set of skills that are needed to sustain social, professional, or business connections.
These skills need to be taken seriously because they aid business development, marketing, sales, and other activities, etc.
It is important that we use networking skills to build, maintain new and existing relationships and also promote valuable things.
Networking Skills You Should Have – How to Improve Networking Skills
To acquire these skills, you need to leave your comfort zone and connect with people.
If you can’t have a face-to-face meeting, you can go virtual and connect with your clients or new contacts.
However, this should not give you the chance to be too relaxed.
When you can build professional connections, you will be able to have new business opportunities and partners.
The following are helpful when networking is involved:
- Positive Mindset
- Public Speaking Skills
- Listening Skills
- Social skills
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
Focus – How to Improve Networking Skills
Focus is an important skill required in networking.
It helps you to pay attention to whoever you are speaking with and helps you listen actively.
This goes a long way in building real connections.
This is an ability to feel what others feel.
It is an important aspect as far as networking is concerned.
Empathy makes people have the feeling that you understand their emotions and what they are going through.
Empathy can build networking faster than expected.
Humor – How To Improve Networking Skills
Humor brings people with common grounds together.
One of the advantages of humor is that it relieves tension.
It allows you to calm the other party and put them at ease.
Individuals with this ability tend to draw people to themselves, and they are also approachable.
Having a sense of humor can help you build good networking skills and relationships.
Having a positive mindset is what will bring people closer to you when you are networking.
A positive attitude can quickly create rapport; this attitude will also make people develop a likeness for you.
Public Speaking Skills
This skill enables you to talk to clients irrespective of how large or small the group is.
It is very useful when you find yourself at social events.
Public speakers are easily understood by their listeners because they are fluent in speaking and can easily drive their point home.
Active Listening – How to Improve Networking Skills
Active listening in networking is very essential.
You have to listen to understand what people want.
This understanding is what will help you to give solutions to their problems and also to what they want.
Maintaining eye contact, nodding, making facial expressions or gestures will show the speaker that you are attentively listening.
While listening, try to respond when necessary.
Active listening involves asking the right question at the right time; this will maintain the conversation.
Social Skills – How to Improve Networking Skills
Social skill is another essential part of networking; this includes both non-verbal and verbal skills.
The use of body language, gestures, words, and your appearance is necessary here.
Some of these social skills establish friendship, build understanding and trust.
All these are vital elements of networking.
Passing information to each other is known as communication.
Effective communication is when the speaker sends a message to the receiver, and they understand the message.
They are a set of skills you need to maintain and promote relationships when you are networking.
It is also important to observe nonverbal communication like nodding, body language, etc. This will show if the person is listening or still following what you are saying.
On your part, be careful of the non-verbal communication you are sending out to your audience.
Body language can either make you continue or stop the message you are trying to pass across.
Communication is very important if you want to improve your networking skills.
Another name for interpersonal skill is “people skills”
The way you converse or relate with people determines the impact that will be made.
Communication, listening, and attitude matter if you want to build a successful business network.
How to Improve Networking Skills
Get Familiar with your Contact
One way of improving networking skills is to get familiar with your contact.
If you are observant, you can pick your contact’s name from their name tag.
You can then use the name when discussing with them.
Doing this will help you place a face to the name, create a sense of familiarity with the person, and will also build trust.
Human beings prefer to have business connections or dealings with people they are comfortable with because their minds will be at ease knowing that their businesses are in safe hands.
Try to create a sense of certainty with your contact; they should feel welcome around you.
Watch their body language to know how they feel when they are around you.
Use Social Media for Networking
There are lots of opportunities on social media that may be beneficial for your business.
Networking can be done on any of these sites: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
You can get links and promote your business through these platforms.
Social media will get you connected to so many people, but you should be wise enough to identify those favorable for your business and not the ones that can make it collapse.
Advertising and promoting your business on those platforms will open you to the world, so many people will see what you have to offer.
Social media is a great medium to improve networking skills.
Improve Your Communication Skills – How To Improve Networking Skills
For your networking skill to be apt, you should improve your communication skills.
This is because when networking, you have to communicate a lot.
You have to speak to clients, listen attentively, and focus on what your client or contact is saying to understand better.
You also have to be sure of how to present your business to clients and convince them to accept what you have to offer.
There are times you will need to speak to a large crowd; if you are not good at communicating and making people understand what you are saying, it will be considered a waste of time and energy.
To avoid this, you should improve your communication skills.
One important way to improve your networking skills is by attending conferences, business meetings, and other events.
From these meetings, you will get connected to people, and relationships will be built.
These meetings allow you to ask questions that show that you are interested in the person or their business.
Your questions should strictly be open-ended ones; don’t give out wrong body language, and make sure to maintain eye contact.
Be very mindful of answers that you give out when you are asked certain questions.
Stay focused and build quality relationships.
Activate Your Presence on LinkedIn
Your LinkedIn platform should be up-to-date and ready for business.
There can be issues preventing you from having a face-to-face meeting with your clients.
When this happens, it slows down your chances of improving your networking skills.
However, with LinkedIn, you can still keep in touch with your contacts.
You have to activate, enhance your presence on LinkedIn, and carry out meetings on this platform.
Share creative content; join groups that will build a virtual network for you.
Ensure your LinkedIn page is not boring; your clients should be excited to check out what you have prepared for them.
This is a way to get more contacts and improve your networking skills.
Socialize At Conferences
Lots of sessions hold during conferences; you can skip some.
Skip them and look for ways to socialize to get new contacts.
Get friendly with people because it will make it easy for you to start up a conversation.
These people can be those that were present during a session.
You may have heard them talk about business or have business plans that you are interested in; familiarize yourself with them, and get their contacts.
Socializing is a good way to improve networking skills.
Be Quick About It
When discussing with an already existing client or trying to get a new one, try to be time conscious.
You do not have to spend too much time discussing because your time is valuable.
Be observant, if the conversation is solely on you, then it’s time to round off and take your leave.
Do not waste time on a potential client that may end up not working.
Use your time wisely, don’t waste it.
Have a Business Card – How To Improve Networking Skills.
A Business card is one way to improve your networking skills.
Have a business card with your business name, address, contact information, and the services you have to offer.
You should have a digital card; with a digital business card, you can easily get your contacts impressed.
With this card, you will be able to edit information on it and do other technical activities on it.
Try as much as possible to update your business card regularly; also give it a professional look or feel.
Your business cards should be with your old and new clients.
Endeavor to have them on your social media handles as well.
You can drop your digital business cards with people you meet at conferences or business meetings because you may not know those that need services.
Find out How Your Clients Want to Be Contacted
Finding out how your new clients want to be reached or contacted is another way to improve your networking skill.
Anytime you have a new business client, ask them how you can reach out to them.
This is because some prefer some contact medium to others.
We have some options like a phone call, social media handles, text messages, LinkedIn profile, etc.
When you know which they prefer, you will be able to reach out to them with ease, and developing a relationship will be easy.
Watch Out For Body Language – How to Improve Networking Skills
Improving your networking skill requires that you look out for the reactions of your clients.
This is very important when you are having a conversation with someone; you have to know how comfortable the person is.
It is from their body language you will know if the person is following up with what you have been saying or if you are just wasting your time.
Some people may make gestures, nod, or make facial expressions; if you are observant, their non-verbal communication will tell you what to do or what not to do.
Sometimes, you are the one that should be careful with the body language you are sending out.
Have What to Offer in Mind
If you want to improve your networking skills, you have to prepare what to offer to your clients before heading out to any meeting.
It is better to have that plan on the ground instead of just thinking about what you can get from them.
If you have to make a list of those things, then go ahead and make a list.
Having already laid down plans will open your mind to different business opportunities that can be used not just to promote your business, but to improve your networking skills too.
Discuss Issues That Are Not Work-Related
Does this sound strange? No, we don’t think so.
It does not have to be business all the time; take out time to talk about other things with your clients.
Know your clients personally not just on a business level alone.
Talk about their passions and hobbies.
In doing this, however, ensure your questions are open-ended.
Don’t delve into matters that can make them uncomfortable.
Knowing them on this level can build common grounds and discussing their business will come easy.
Make Notes – How To Improve Networking Skills
Immediately you get a new contact, the best thing to do is to take note of things you have both discussed.
Taking notes will not only help you remember what you discussed but will help you connect to things that are unique about that particular client.
This shows that you are concerned and have that client in mind; this is also good for improving networking skills.
Follow Up – How To Improve Networking Skills
Build a new relationship through follow-up; when you are done with the networking session; don’t just relax.
You have to follow up on the contacts you have gotten, reach out to them on their preferred platform.
Appreciate their presence during the session and commend them on their contribution if there is a need.
You can go ahead to let them know how excited you are to have them as your business partner or client as the case may be.
But before doing this, give them some days, don’t do the follow-up immediately, this will produce a better result.
If it is done immediately, it can be overwhelming for such a client or contact.
Follow-up is an important way to improve your networking skills.
Building Relationship Needs Time – How To Improve Networking Skills
It is important to know that building and sustaining a good relationship takes time.
You don’t have to be discouraged when you don’t have a new contact.
Sometimes it is possible that the person you spoke to is not ready to do business.
It could be as a result of fear from past experiences that they might have had, or because they are not sure of the outcome of the business.
In this case, have patience and keep hope alive, you can continue to be friendly; who knows, through this you can win them over to your side.
While waiting for these, reach out to others and get their contacts.
Be positive and excited about networking.
Involve your More Outgoing Friend or Business Partner
If you are an introvert type, then go to conferences or networking events with a partner or a friend who is better at socializing.
This person can help you engage your potential client in a conversation, it does not mean you should keep quiet and watch; get involved too.
Involving somebody will not allow you to miss out on an important business opportunity or even on networking.
Conclusion on How to Improve Networking Skills
With practice and necessary follow-up, connections can be created using networking skills.
Improving networking skills is not as challenging as it may seem, but you need a lot of time and patience for it to become a reality.
Social skills, verbal skills, nonverbal communication skills, active listening, etc. are all needed to improve your networking skills.