Networking Skills and Objectives

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Networking Skills

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Networking Skills

Rather than simply listing networking skills, we have decided to put them as a list of questions.  Things to think about for your networking skills are:

  1. Define your network – we have provided a number of tools to help you define your network. You will find them, together with downloads on our site in the ‘who should you network with‘ page.
    Watch for ‘contaminators’ – these are the people who will negatively influence your activities. List them and lose them.
  2. Define your network under different types of contacts headings – use the ‘My network: people types’ download (you will find it here) to ensure you have the right ‘spread’ of individuals within your network.
  3. Watch for ‘contaminators’ – these are the people who will negatively influence your activities. List them and lose them. You will find information on this here.
  4. Work out your common experiences with them – one of the key platforms for creating rapport with people is having a common experience to discuss with them. Ever notice how smokers when they meet for the first time talk about smoking? A common experience that provides a ‘link’ with the other person. Do the same with those you seek to network with. Common previous bosses, common interest in particular projects, mutual acquaintances, mutual professional interests, ‘hot’ industry topics, mutual social interests, and so on.
  5. Keep the contact on-going – even go as far as scheduling when you are going to contact different network members and the method by which you will contact them – phone, face-to-face, email, and so on.
  6. Ensure they understand your goals and you understand their goals – networking is mutual or it doesn’t work at all. Be open about your goals and learn about what they want.
  7. Present the right/consistent image – not just face-to-face but also in written correspondence.
  8. Keep records – of your network, their methods of contact, their goals, mutual interests, about their own networks, and how you have contacted them previously.
  9. Are you clear about your job and career goals? What are they? If you are not clear we have created pages to help you establish your career goals.
  10. Who can help you achieve those goals? You will find resources to help you with this in here.
  11. How well do you know the people you think can help you and do you trust them? Use our ‘networking circles’ template to help you further establish this. You will find the download on this page.
  12. How well do they know you and can they trust you?
  13. How do you think others perceive you in the organisation? You can access a personality questionnaire on this site, and a culture fit questionnaire. Check the results with these individuals.
  14. Do you get information from others? Are you the first or the last to know what is going on?
  15. Who do you call out for advice? Who do you trust with confidential information?
  16. How close are you to the important networks in your department, business unit and division? Who are the members and how can you get to meet them?
  17. Who are the movers and shakers in your area of expertise? Who makes the decisions?

We have prepared a working sheet to capture your network. This will also register you with us for occasional communications for our new articles and further tips. Simply complete the form below.

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Our Top 5 Networking Skills

We will keep this networking skills list to five. However, if you follow the networking path of this site, all the networking skills you will need are integrated into the text and downloads.

You want them to sponsor you and open doors. To do that they must think you are their kind of person. It is their reputation on the line, and they are very aware of this.

1. Set Objectives

These can be both larger and smaller objectives. Setting objectives will help you improve your networking skills. If you set an objective, then there is a far greater chance of completing it. Your main goal might be ‘to get a job’. How you do that through networking then provides you with a number of large objectives. These need to be made into a sequence of smaller objectives, and can be on a daily basis. These will motivate you to keep going. For example:

  • I might set an objective to make contact with 30 movers and gatekeepers with a resulting 5 meetings. That is an ominous larger objective.
  • Therefore, I might want to make contact with 6 movers and gatekeepers today with the aim of one or more meetings. That is far more achievable.

You will find more information on setting these types of objectives towards the bottom of this page.

We have prepared a template download for you to establish objectives. Complete the form below for this download.

Please provide your name and email address for your free download.

2. Get Your Head Right

Networking is a form of warm-calling. It is rarely cold-calling as these are people that know of you or know someone you know. If you want tools to ensure you are in the right mindset, they are available for interviews on this site, and will help you be in control of yourself in the right way. This is part of good networking skill.

3. Learn Flattery

So many of us are worried about letting someone know how good you think they are. Yet, in networking, as in business generally, honest flattery goes a long way. Imagine if I gave someone a call who I only knew about through a friend and said something like the following:

Hi John, it’s Peter Smith calling. I have heard excellent things about you from Greg Stephens who I believe you know. I understand you are an Operations Director in retail, and it is the sort of role I am looking for myself. I think I could learn a great deal from you and was just wondering if you had 30 minutes free over the next week or so I could buy you a tea of coffee? I would really like to get to understand more about the role from someone who is obviously right at the top of that profession. When are you free?

It is really hard to resist meeting with a person who uses that sort of flattery.

4. Be Strategic

Although we network haphazardly continuously throughout our lives, finding the right role means we have an aim. Therefore, we should approach that aim with a strategy. This is part of your networking skills set. A strategy for job search means:

  • Know what your end role looks like.
  • Know when you want to achieve the job offer by.
  • List the types of networking you will use – social media, conferences, face-to-face meetings, and so on.
  • State how many of what you will do. For example, 100 approaches in total to people who are associated to X industry or Y occupations.
  • What are the outcomes that you want from these meetings?
  • A little tactical, but also a progress chart for your achievements along the way.

5. Relearn to Communicate

The majority of your communication on a daily basis in normal life is with people you know well. In-jokes, short-hand sentences, not needing to make eye contact, undertaking another task whilst they talk to you are all normal practice with those you know well. When networking correctly for finding the right role, different rules apply:

  • Learn to get in rapport and be their kind of person. Treat meetings with those you are networking with as mini interviews. Sure, you can be less formal, but the same rules apply generally. One of those rules in to understand and use rapport. You want them to sponsor you and open doors. To do that they must think you are their kind of person. It is their reputation on the line, and they are very aware of this.
  • Learn to listen. I mean really listen. They are a key to furthering your career. You have also approached them because they might be in a better position than you from the perspective of your world. They deserve to be really listened to and will appreciate it. Use reflecting and paraphrasing to show you are listening. This will enhance your networking skills significantly.
  • Learn to ask open questions. Asking questions should not pre-constrain answers by making them leading, multi-choice or closed. If your questions are insightful, that will also help. So do your research. Once you have asked the questions, and if it is an open question, just listen. If you get this right, they should have the opportunity to do far more talking than you!

This section should improve your networking skills. It is you that should make this happen.

What do you want from networking generally? What do you want from an individual networking meeting? If you don’t set objectives, you may just end up with a series of cosy conversations.

Networking Meeting Objectives?

What do you want from networking generally? What do you want from an individual networking meeting? If you don’t set objectives, you may just end up with a series of cosy conversations.

To ensure adequate payback for each meeting you undertake, think about the following questions:

  1. What is the end result I want from the meeting?
  2. How will the meeting contribute to my work or career goals?
  3. What will the other parties want from the meeting?
  4. How can I help the other parties achieve their goals?
  5. What do I need to know about the other parties to ensure productivity in our meetings?
  6. How will I measure the usefulness of the meeting?

If you are following a pathway, please move on to understanding who you should network with.

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