Everyone wants to be a part of a club, an inclusive club, or an exclusive club; the tag doesn’t matter as long it allows being a part of something bigger than oneself. Networking skills work like oxygen for one’s professional and personal life as well. Getting labels - for example, tech community, getting hashtags - for example, we are devs, getting a chance to be a part of online/offline meetups are nothing but efforts to be a part of one or another kind of club.
The ability to network with people has become one of the necessities to survive in the corporate world.
Networking is one word for “communicating with people at a professional level”. So, Networking is the combination of “making friends” and “not spamming them like your friends”.
What I meant is when you intend to network with different individuals, you make connections by introducing your verbs (what you do) and by your nouns (who you are, as a professional) not by making the same mistakes (like you became friends with your friends).
That’s what an individual needs to understand before they proceed further to understand what and how - a professional network should be considered professional to have long-term and a nice connection throughout the relationship.
Understand that networking is more about giving and less about gaining. Gaining becomes passive when you intentionally go forward to help your peers.
That being said, it doesn’t mean your professional network can never turn into a personal network - a different story altogether.
Let’s understand why networking is your lifeline.
Why Networking skills?
Networking is important because, in the end, we all are humans and what we all want is to tell our stories. So, either we find people to tell stories or interested people find us to tell their stories. It has been happening for ages, and well, that’s what proves networking was always there even when people were not making an intentional effort to network.
But why should you make an intentional effort?
- Networking leads you to meet some fantastic people.
- Networking improves your ability to summarise your journey in the shortest (and longest) way possible, whatever the situation demands.
- Networking improves your ability to sell.
- Networking gives you the confidence to communicate with individuals/groups that are not directly linked to what you do and know.
- Networking increases your chance to find an opportunity - more like building your luck.
- Networking is done suitable and leaves you with connections that give the parties involved a sense of impacting each other’s lives.
Now you all know why networking can be the one solution for your few different problems. So, let’s understand what comes under networking.
What Networking Skills?
Networking skills don’t only involve speaking but also listening. Let’s understand what are the key ways to be good at networking.
The most critical skills for networking you can develop are listening and asking questions.
When you listen sincerely to people, you show respect and interest in what they want to convey. Listening becomes essential when you want to understand the background (and why) of a certain person. You connect better when you understand where the other person is coming from - validating their inputs get easy.
Akash has already explained it precisely - Don't underestimate the Power of Asking.
Asking questions builds trust and shows how sincere and interested you are in other people’s inputs & opinions.
But how do you opt for these two skills?
Some simple tips:
To become a good listener, you will have to take a genuine interest in what the other person is saying.
- Rather than overestimating yourself by thinking ‘you know everything’ go with the mindset that ‘you can always learn more’ and see the magic.
- Every conversation (even those where you didn’t contribute enough) will teach you lessons if you go with an open mind.
Asking questions gets easy when you take a genuine interest and ask questions that come up in your mind.
- Be like a user/customer of the product (topic) that the other person is talking about.
- Ask even silly questions but be interested in knowing more too.
- Genuine is needed.
Bonus tip #1:
People love talking about themselves so, if you want someone to be excited about you and your work, get excited about them. Let them tell you their story.
Now, you most probably know the important aspects of networking but before jumping on how to network, let’s understand the power of good response.
A good response is a combination of empathically listening and positive motivation. For example, if a peer shares a piece of bad news regarding their business with you, then your response should consist the empathy and the correlation of ‘how they can do better’ and ‘how far they have come’ to support them in their difficult times.
If I decide to summarise simple tips on how to network, then it will look something like this:
- Show your real self - Genuine is always appreciated and in demand.
- Don’t sell - Long-term networks need more than your USP.
- Active listening - From a little nod to asking questions always show your sincerity.
- Engage when needed: Forced conversations are never good.
- Be confident - If you radiate confidence, people would like to connect with you more.
Bonus tip #2:
Understand that no one owes you anything. Yes, even if you helped someone in the past that also doesn’t make it compulsory for them to help you out. It’s a choice of an individual.
So, every time you go to network, go with the intent to meet new people and help them out as much as possible without expecting anything in return.
That’s why it should be considered as “making friends but not spamming them like your friends” - help your peers like you would help a friend but don’t expect the same. Make it a choice.
To become peers with people of the same (or even different) community, check out Peerlist - one stop to showcase your proof of work, meet new people, and get hired or to hire!