Let’s Talk About Talking: Tips for Improving Your Networking Skills
Networking is a significant factor, and challenge, for many professionals to navigate in the professional world today. It’s no surprise that almost 80% of professionals believe networking is an important skill for their career success (LinkedIn), but even the most seasoned of community connectors can fumble their words occasionally. Whether it is in-person or virtual, knowing how to communicate with others in an unfamiliar situation is a skillset that everyone should be looking to continuously sharpen. Here are three ideas for how you can become a better networker, no matter how comfortable you might be:
- Stop and Think: Take a moment to think before joining the event. Who might be in attendance and how can I connect with them? What is my connection to this group and how might that come up in conversation? Why are we getting together and what can I contribute? Going in with a gameplan can ease some of the anxiety for introverts, and help extroverts make the most of their conversations!
- Listen: Listening is regularly included in the top personal and professional skills to develop. Networking is the perfect opportunity to practice your listening skills because the more you learn from someone, the most likely you are to be in tune with their needs and contribute to the conversation effectively
- Tag-Team Networking: If you can attend an event with a friend or colleague, do it! You can interact with more people, use each other to start conversations based on each other’s preferred topics and skillsets, and take a break with someone familiar. Just be sure the other person knows you are going to be relying on them for some cooperation.
For some people networking is easy, for some people it’s a real challenge, but everyone can find ways to communicate more effectively. It takes time and practice to become a real master of networking, but the benefits can lead to all kinds of possibilities!
UW-Green Bay’s Continuing Education and Community Engagement Division is continuously looking for ways to stay on the cutting edge of professional development for its clients. Be sure to check out the CECE website and reach out if you have ideas for new content you want to see!
Writing/Research Credit: Christopher Ledvina, UW-Green Bay Business Development Specialist