Networking is simply having a professional conversation. Even though we live in an age where the majority of our social interactions can be automated, the number one way professionals connect is through old school networking. If you’re involved in business at any level, it’s important to have effective networking skills. Here are some tips to help improve your networking skills, and remember these skills can be applied to any conversation, no matter the level of professionalism.
You’re There to Give, not Get
It’s easy to ramble on to whomever it is you are speaking with and deny them the opportunity to speak. Make sure and give your conversation partner an ample amount of opportunities to speak their mind and contribute to the conversation. Remember, you’re there to give constructive comments, not get a stage upon which to perform a monologue. Letting the other person have plenty of time to speak makes them feel like a part of a conversation and therefore important.
Don’t Appear Desperate
Appearing needy in business, much like in dating, is usually a turn off. Acting desperate is a sign of low self-assurance, which does not communicate ability. When networking, remind yourself of the positive things you are bringing to the table. Be confident in yourself and in your abilities and it will show in your conversation. Don’t forget, if you aren’t confident in what you’re talking about, it may best to change the subject.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Make sure and give the conversation a place to grow. Don’t smother it by only asking “yes” or “no” questions. Give the person with whom you are speaking room to elaborate on their ideas. Most “yes” or “no” questions can be reworded to make them more open-ended and allow for greater elaboration. For example, instead of asking “Do you like movies?” ask, “What are your favorite movies?” On the off chance that whomever you are speaking with doesn’t like movies, that information will most likely be included in their response as well as the opportunity for elaboration.
Networking is all about staying comfortable and maintaining sincere conversations. For more tips, check out this article.