Business Networking Skills -- The 6 Must-Have Skills You Need for Networking Success
Being good at networking actually involves quite a few complex skills, and as with all skills, the more you practice, the better you get. Read on for six tips that will make you a much more effective networker.
1. Build your verbal fluency
Having the ability to converse with anyone in any situation is an important success trait to master. If you want to get ahead, consciously work on building your "verbal fluency." The best part - every time you talk with someone, you're practicing.
2. Join a club
If you want to take your verbal fluency training to a whole new level, consider joining a club. A local Toastmasters club that is. It's a fantastic place to practice your social skills, your public speaking skills, thinking - and speaking-on your feet, and, well, make more connections. It's very inexpensive and pays dividends far beyond the time and effort you put in.
3. Build your listening skills
A master networker needs great listening skills. It's important to be able to converse with anyone but equally important to know when to stop talking and start listening. A master gets a conversation started by asking good questions and then allows space for others to engage in the conversation.
Watch yourself for the temptation to "one-up" by telling an even better story or hijacking the conversation. You'll build better relationships by listening than by talking... and as they say if you listen well you'll be viewed as an "amazing conversationalist"
4. Be up to date on current and business events
Being in the "know" is key to conversation gymnastics. You don't have to know everything that's happening, but it helps to at least read the newspaper headlines before heading out to a networking event. Besides, it's so much easier to talk with people if you have plenty of material to talk about.
5. Know the keys to lively networking conversations
> Read newsletter and professional or trade journals for up-to-date and relevant topics of conversation
> Take note when you hear something odd or interesting and share it with others
> Use humor carefully. Be light-hearted and don't take yourself too seriously.
> Don't gossip - it always comes back to haunt you
> Listen actively - with eyes, ears, and heart.
6. Avoid Jargon
Avoid jargon, i.e., specialized terms that only those you work with might understand. Not sure what qualifies as jargon? Pretend you're networking with your spouse, your Mom, or a friend who has nothing to do with what you do for a living. Tell them your introduction, and ask them to tell you back what they've heard. You may be surprised by the results.
For some networking comes easily, for most of us it take thought, effort and some degree of work. But the skills well learned will yield incredible results for your business - and surprisingly, even for nervous networkers, is an enjoyable experience!