We are back to share with you our most important career networking tips in part 2. Before giving this blog a read, make sure you check out part 1 of this 4-part series!
Career Networking Tips – Skills You Need
The term EQ (Emotional Quotient; but often used to refer to Emotional Intelligence) was coined in 1990 in a research paper by two psychology professors, John D. Mayer of UNH and Peter Salovey of Yale. Later Daniel Goleman further developed the emotional intelligence theory by outlining five components of EQ: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. In order to be effective at networking, you need to develop and rely on these skills.
Self-Awareness is understanding who you are; your strengths, your weaknesses, your thoughts, beliefs, values, behaviors, and emotions. And people who are considered to have high emotional intelligence understand these things about themselves but also understand how these things about them affect other people.
Then there’s Self-Regulation, the ability to control your emotions, manage disruptive or negative thoughts, and think before you act. Motivation, a drive and determination to succeed, a tendency to show optimism when faced with failure, and a willingness to learn. The ability to be driven by more than just intrinsic motivators, show real energy, and real persistence, to ensure success. And then there’s empathy, the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people and be skilled at treating people in a way that’s aligned with how they want to be treated. Finally, by Social Skills, we mean the ability to build, and manage relationships, find common ground, build rapport, and show that you care about other people genuinely rather than just for social gain.
But how do you develop social and emotional intelligence?
One of our important career networking tips is to pay more attention to the social world around you. How do socially confident people behave? As you’re observing this also consider how you act in similar situations. Take note of your emotions. How do certain social situations make you feel? And then think about how you react. Make space to meditate on this.
Another way to develop in this way is through psychotherapy. It used to be, back in the day, that people would do this type of therapy when they had a seemingly insurmountable psychological problem. Today we know that one can utilize psychotherapy to learn more about oneself and to be more conscious of our patterns, behaviors, and emotions. And this is essential for many things: improved health and wellness, higher-quality relationships, and, yes, networking.
Take the time to listen to your body. Being aware of our body is a part of being in touch with our emotions. How does your body react when you’re feeling nervous, fearful, or anxious? How does your body react when you are at ease, feeling calm, or feeling safe? Are you in control of these emotions? What is the relationship between your internal dialog and your feelings? Learn to understand your feelings because once you learn to understand them you can make space for them, address them, give yourself what you need, and thereby shift and change your behaviors.
For example, some people when they feel scared can come across as defensive and arrogant, whereas others might begin to feel overwhelmed and cry, while yet another person might become judgmental or blame others, and another might freeze up. The point is that the more you know about yourself and your reactions, the more you can address your deeper feeling and then make different choices.
The key to emotional intelligence is that the more you understand yourself, the more you can understand and empathize with others.
To recap, we are suggesting that you reflect on your own behavior and learn from others around you, observe other people having social successes and even social challenges, and reflect on why what they’re doing is having the outcome that it is. Why is Jayla making everyone feel special? Why is what Amari is doing seems to annoy other people.? Use the world around you and your reflections to become more skillful socially.
When talking with someone, active listening is when you pay close attention to what the other person is saying with the goal of understanding them, then you mirror or paraphrase an essential part of what the person said. It’s an important technique in relationship building and networking because it helps the listener make sure they are understanding and has the person speaking feel heard and understood.
Awareness of Your Professional Brand
Before you get started with networking or before you refresh your networking strategy spend some time considering your professional brand. Your brand, in this context, is essentially how others see you, and can be made up of your experiences, expertise, competencies, actions, and achievements. Check out our handout on how to develop your personal and professional brand. Essentially however you want to consider what is your narrative. How do you answer the question: Tell me a bit about yourself. And consider what the connection points are between you and the other person.
Thoughtfulness of Your Body Language
We have addressed this here in our blog post about negotiation. But let’s briefly review a few things specifically addressing body language and networking. Now that we as a world have dealt with covid, people may be more reluctant to shake hands. If you are comfortable shaking people’s hands, make sure you are picking up on other people’s body language. If they hesitate when it comes time for a handshake, raise your elbow and give them an elbow bump. Let’s say you choose to do a handshake… You may already know, that you want it to be firm and confident.
If you are talking with someone, make sure you look like you want to be there. There can be a lot going on and maybe it’s been a long day… But give the other person the gift of your engagement. Even if you may feel a bit nervous, remember to smile. Smiling activates molecules in your brain that are designed to fend off stress. Also, when you smile, your brain releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin.
So do it for the people you are connecting with and do it for yourself.
When you are talking with someone, don’t box them off by standing facing them with your shoulders parallel to theirs, instead keep one of your shoulders slightly outward, as a body language invitation to anyone else who may like to join your conversation. And keep your body language open, don’t cross your arms. You want to communicate through your body that you are welcoming and open to meeting and connecting with people.
Consider mirroring the people you are connecting with in subtle ways. We’re not suggesting you mimic every movement. But consider who you are talking with and adjust. If you are a strong extrovert, for example, you might bring your energy down a notch when talking with someone who is quieter and more reserved. Of course, you should be yourself, but it’s a way to meet someone halfway and build rapport.