Being an effective networker is crucial for success in today's professional world. It's not just about what you know, but also about who you know. Building strong relationships and connections can open doors to new opportunities, whether it's finding a job, attracting investors, or gaining new customers. While some people may seem like natural networkers, the truth is that networking is a skill that can be learned and developed. In this article, we will explore 11 habits that the best networkers have, and how you can cultivate them to become a master networker yourself.
1. Listening: The Power of Active Listening
One of the most important habits of successful networkers is the ability to listen effectively. Communication is a two-way street, and being a good listener allows you to ask the right questions and make a memorable impression. By truly listening to others, you can understand their needs and interests, and find ways to connect and help them. Active listening involves giving your full attention, maintaining eye contact, and asking follow-up questions to show genuine interest.
2. Being Curious: Cultivate Genuine Interest in Others
Curiosity is a powerful trait that can help you build meaningful connections. When you are genuinely interested in others, their work, and their passions, it creates a strong foundation for building relationships. By asking thoughtful questions and showing a genuine desire to learn more, you can deepen your understanding of others and find ways to support and connect them with relevant opportunities.
3. Getting to Know the Organizers at Networking Events
Attending networking events can be overwhelming, especially for introverts. However, a simple habit that can help you navigate these events more effectively is to get to know the organizers beforehand. Seek them out and introduce yourself, expressing your appreciation for the event. By asking them who would be the best people for you to meet, you can receive valuable introductions and increase your influence within the network.
4. Smiling: The Power of a Genuine Smile
Networking can be intimidating, but a simple smile can go a long way in making others feel comfortable and open to conversation. A warm and genuine smile not only puts others at ease but also creates a positive and friendly impression. It invites others to smile back or say hello, making it easier to initiate conversations and build connections.
5. Talking to More Than One Person in the Room
Good networkers know how to engage with multiple people at networking events. Instead of focusing on just one or two individuals, they have a natural knack for sharing just enough information and understanding the flow of conversations. They recognize natural ending points in conversations, acknowledge them, and move on to connect with others. This allows them to expand their network and maintain connections for future collaborations.
6. Not Focusing on What Others Can Do for You
Successful networkers understand that networking is not just about what others can do for them, but also about what they can do for others. Instead of focusing solely on their own needs and interests, they take a genuine interest in others and look for ways to help and support them. By being a resource and offering value, they build strong and lasting relationships based on mutual trust and reciprocity.
7. Connecting Others Together: The Power of Being a Connector
Great networkers understand the value of connecting others. By actively introducing people who can benefit from knowing each other, they become trusted connectors within their network. These connections can lead to new business opportunities, collaborations, and the formation of a loyal tribe of individuals who are willing to reciprocate and support each other.
8. Leaving Them Wanting More: Give Instead of Sell
The best networkers focus on giving instead of selling. They understand that building relationships is about providing value and support, rather than constantly promoting themselves or their products. By listening, empathizing, and sharing relevant resources or advice, they make their connections about the other person, leaving a lasting impression and fostering a sense of reciprocity.
9. Being Consistent: Networking as a Continuous Practice
Consistency is key when it comes to networking. Successful networkers understand that networking is not a one-time event but a continuous practice. They make networking a regular part of their professional lives, engaging with others and sharing their expertise consistently. By becoming a dependable contributor and engaging with others beyond their immediate needs, they build a reputation as valuable and reliable networkers.
10. Staying Patient: Building Relationships Takes Time
Building relationships takes time and patience. The best networkers understand that networking is like cultivating friendships or romantic relationships—it requires time and effort to develop a deep connection. While it's important to reach out to new contacts and follow up when necessary, forcing relationships to develop at a specific pace can come across as insincere. Successful networkers stay patient and allow relationships to naturally evolve over time.
11. Following Up: Foster and Maintain Relationships
Following up is a crucial habit for successful networkers. After meeting someone, it's important to stay in touch and nurture the relationship. Effective follow-up involves adding value to the relationship by introducing them to new contacts, sharing relevant articles or resources, and being a supportive presence. By taking the initiative to maintain and deepen relationships, you can take your networking efforts to the next level.