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Improve Your Networking Skills In These Four Steps

October 12, 2020


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Networking is one of the most powerful tools you can use to help propel your professional career. Establishing connections is a great opportunity to learn from mentors, showcase your talents, and if you do things right, maybe even land a new job. All that being said, many people struggle with the concept of networking and networking events, both in-person and virtual. To help you improve your skills, we have compiled a list of tips, including the secret to establishing a strong rapport with new acquaintances. With these tips, you will be a networking professional in no time. 


Be authentic


Networking is all about getting to know other people and letting other people learn more about you. After all, the goal is to build relationships between yourself and other professionals. Which makes authenticity a key factor in finding success in building relationships. 


Experienced networkers will be able to see right through somebody who is putting on an act, which is why it is key to simply be yourself when networking. It’s easier and comes more natural than putting on a show to please others. 


Calling into virtual networking events with the intent to establish authentic connections is easy when you find commonality with others, empathize, fully engage, and listen to what they have to say. Listening is a great way to learn more about your audience but is also a great opportunity to learn more about the person you are trying to build a relationship with. 


Establish goals


Networking is a challenge for most people because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the event a success. In order to ease that pressure, prior to networking, list out some goals that you want to accomplish at the event. 


Ask yourself these questions to help you decide what you want your goals to be:


  • Why am I interested in expanding my network?
  • What am I looking to gain from this event specifically?
  • What makes this event a success for me?


If you go through and answer these questions honestly, you will be able to provide yourself with a better picture of what you want to accomplish. Is this your first event? Have you networked a few times in the past? Maybe your goal is to get five people to provide contact information to connect in the future. 


Whatever your goals may be, having a clear idea of what defines a successful event can help put you at ease prior to a networking event. 


Identify “helpers”


Not only can your goals help you formulate a plan and feel more comfortable with attending an event, but they can also help you identify people that can assist you in achieving your goals.


Let’s say one of your goals is to simply become more comfortable and confident at networking. By knowing this, you can select three successful networkers to set up video calls with that you know you can learn from. On these calls, they may be able to provide feedback about your skills and could even offer advice about what you can improve upon. Another great way to identify helpers is to research some virtual networking conferences that you can attend from the comfort of your own home that may involve some people you are looking to learn more about. 


Or maybe one of your goals is to establish new connections in an industry that you want to work in. With this knowledge, you can identify those who are in that industry and can seek to connect with them by setting up a virtual networking call to discuss more your skill set and why you are looking to work in that industry, and so on.


Having a plan before the event and knowing who can help you achieve those goals is a major factor in helping you successfully navigate a networking event. 


Truly Connect


Building rapport with other professionals while networking is the most important part of networking events. By establishing goals, you will be able to stay focused, and by being authentic, you will be able to connect with others more genuinely, but remember rapport is just as essential. 


To help build rapport, ask them what they do for fun if they have any unique hobbies, what makes them successful, etc. By asking questions that dive a bit deeper, you not only are learning more about them but are showing you care. This opens up the possibility that you have something in common to talk about further. 


Similar to an interview, being able to have a memorable conversation with someone greatly improves your chances of success, so if you can connect with someone over your love of skiing, or that you both grew up in the same hometown, there is a better chance that they will remember you moving forward. This is key for establishing the strong connection you need to grow your network and create fruitful, professional, and personal relationships. 


Final Thoughts


Networking is not the easiest thing to do in the professional world, but we hope that these tips can help you feel more comfortable going into your next networking event. 


For more information and tips about how to improve your professional communication skills, check out our website