How to improve your professional networking skills?

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Networking is one of the key secrets of getting hired, whether you are looking for employment as a fresher or considering a midlife career change. According to many career specialists, professional networking is the make-or-break aspect of job hunting. But does networking really matter that much? And if so, how to network in the right way? Read this article to get the answers.

What is Networking?

In simple words, networking is the process and steps that you follow to develop professional and social contacts. The development occurs through the exchange of information and ideas. People often confuse the idea that networking should only be done to get hired. In reality, there are far more useful and impactful uses of networking than to just get hired.

Whether it’s a career advancement aspect or getting a new perspective, networking can help you find the solution to different issues quite easily.

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How professional networking skill can help your career?

As we were saying, the scope of networking is not limited to getting hired alone. In today’s word, the work-processes of diverse sectors and industries are being managed and influenced through professional networking, connections and metrics.

Networking helps you to stand out of the bunch. Having someone to vouch for you, or someone who understands your skills in a particular field can be of better help than a piece of CV.

Professional referencing is a common thing practiced in the big organizations. Someone with proven skills and reliable references will always hold the upper hand. Nowadays, most organizations do not believe in taking chances; rather they want to hire somebody who can deliver equal or more in return for what they are paying.

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The implications of networking go far beyond than getting hired. For example, creating a connection with one of your industry leaders will give you better industry insights than others. You can hardly find information about such practical intricacies in Google or data banks.

For instance, when you experience an issue regarding your employment or business, a highly experienced and knowledgeable person in that field might mentor you in the best way to overcome the problem.

When you put things into perspective, the benefits of having robust and relevant networking are limitless. We mention the term “relevant” here because not everyone will generate value for you.

While networking, it does not matter whether they are your senior or sub-ordinate. What matters is whether they have the potential for value generation. As long as there’s a mutual benefit at play, networking is always a good option regardless of the industry.

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10 ways to improve your professional networking skills

Now let’s have a look at 10 different ways you can increase your networking skills.

Communication

While talking about networking, we often hear the phrase, “communication is the key.” Communication is the most basic and simple way to get your networking started. Attending a conference or a seminar? Strike up a conversation with your industry peers. The more you communicate yourself, the more people will communicate back. And that’s the key to kickstart your networking.

Active Listening 

People like to talk more than they are willing to listen. And this creates a barrier in communication. As a result, no effective result comes out of it. when you strike up a conversation, focus on what the other person is saying. Try and pick up their thoughts. This will make the interactions more meaningful.

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Social Skills

Some people are naturally introverts, while some are extroverts. Being an extrovert will not be an issue. However, the lack of social skills being an introvert may reduce and limit your networking opportunities. We suggest that you practice socialization. It won’t happen overnight, but you can start from today by interacting more with your friends through online social networking sites or real life meet ups.

Eloquence

Corporate culture is all about how you present yourself. The first impression that you leave on a person will essentially give them a concrete idea about your worth. Therefore, you need to master eloquence. Be vocal about your ideas. But more importantly, be organized with your words.

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Body Language

Being confident in your head alone won’t be enough. The confidence needs to be translated into your body language as well. Next time you interact with someone, make sure the handshake is firm or that you are looking them in the eye when you are talking. This small but effective networking skill can make you stand out from the average people in the long run.

Help Before You Expect Help

Many people think that the only reason behind networking is to find help and benefit from it. While that is true to some extent, but people will expect the same from you as well. Always foster the mentality to help first before asking for it. The key idea is to get into people’s good books first before making use of the networking opportunity.

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Empathy

Empathy is an important aspect that often gets overlooked while networking. Everyone has personal struggles that they are fighting with. While personal life doesn’t come up much in networking, it might still be the right thing to be empathetic towards everyone. A simple act or word of kindness won’t hurt you but it can mean a lot to that person.

Tell Your Story

Networking is all about showcasing your personality and competence. And there is no better way to do that than telling them your story. Summarize your professional life, highlight your achievements, show them that you are a team player. All of these will go a long way to build an effective network. However, try not to act like a braggart; otherwise people may laugh at you.

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Focus on the quality

One of the rookie mistakes people tend to make in networking is focusing on quantity. They think that the number of connections is what builds a network. It is a wrong concept. Try to make genuine connections. At the end of the day, people will remember you, not your business card. Therefore, professional networking depends on the quality, not quantity.

Be Optimistic

Positivity is like the rule of thumb in networking. When you are trying to make a connection, be optimistic in your tone. Don’t try to focus on the negative aspects, whatever it might be. Being positive will leave a good impression on your part. Thus, it will help your networking endeavor effectively.

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Final Thoughts

There are no predefined rules regarding the most effective ways of networking. It’s always about being honest and channeling your ideas in a friendly, pleasant and professional manner. We tried to focus on how you can improve these aspects to make sure your next networking venture is a complete success.

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