Mastering the Top 7 Networking Skills: Development and Highlighting

Updated 13 September 2023

Networking skills are essential in both personal and professional environments. Building your professional network helps you connect with individuals who can help you in your job search process and offer support to advance your career. By understanding the skill set required to build long-lasting relationships can help you develop and improve them. In this article, we discuss what networking skills are, explore their importance, learn about different skills you may need to maintain relationships and providing an understanding of how to develop and highlight them.

Related: Importance of Soft Skills in the Workplace

What Are Networking Skills?

Networking skills are competencies that help you in building personal and professional social contacts. It is an essential skill for many industries, including sales, business development, retail, banking and others. Networking allows you to meet new people, exchange ideas and find new job opportunities. You build strong connections with your colleagues, friends, family members, clients, customers, professors or personal acquaintances when your network. Connecting with such people can prove beneficial for your career.

Why Are Networking Skills Important?

Here are a few reasons why networking is essential:

  • Opens new job opportunities: Networking is an excellent way to advance your career because you contact a professional who may have information about a job that a recruiter is yet to share on different job boards.

  • Builds self-confidence: The more you interact with people, the more you can build your self-confidence and social skills.

  • Enhances communication skills: Networking gives you a chance to communicate your ideas to others and explain your potential to them. This can improve your verbal communication skills.

  • Helps in finding mentors: Whether you are an entry-level or experienced professional, you may require guidance in your career. Networking facilitates the opportunity to find and connect with people who have vast experience in your field and could become your mentor.

  • Improves elevator pitch: When you meet new people, you give a brief description of who you are, your strengths and your background. This brief introduction is your elevator's pitch that can help you form a lasting connection with a professional.

7 Networking Skills

There are different skills required for networking with people. Some of these are:

1. Communication

Communication is the exchange of ideas from one person to another. It helps you use the right tone so that you receive a response from the other person. When networking with people, this skill helps you effectively communicate and deliver the intended message. You may require written communication skills to build and maintain relationships on social media networks and professional networking websites.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

2. Active listening

Active listening is the ability to focus on what the speaker is saying and responding thoughtfully to their message. It is an important skill to grow your network because you show them respect and understand their message by listening to others. Active listening skills involve smiling, making eye contact and using other non-verbal cues to showcase that you are listening to the speaker.

3. Public speaking skills

At networking events, you may interact with a large group of people to build connections. This requires excellent public speaking skills. Public speaking skills help improve the way you articulate, helping the other person understand what you are trying to say.

Related: Types of Public Speaking Skills and How To Improve Them

4. Social skills

Social skills are the skills that require you to interact with others in a personal and professional environment. These include words and gestures, visual cues, body language and appearance. Reaching out to people you are meeting for the first time or meeting with colleagues outside of office hours can help you build and manage long-term relationships.

5. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand another person's emotions and state of mind. It is an important skill for networking because people prefer sharing their emotions and experience with empathetic people. Asking questions related to the situation and approaching a situation based on the viewpoint of others can help you network better with people.

6. Positivity

Often, people prefer to interact with individuals who showcase a positive demeanour and are friendly. A positive attitude and perspective toward everything can help you develop a strong rapport and make you likeable and memorable. As people naturally gravitate to positive people, building positive relationships in the workplace and outside becomes easier.

7. Emailing skills

Even after the advent of social media, email remains a preferred choice for most businesses to exchange professional messages. But certain email rules are essential to ensure recipients read and act upon your email. Keep emails short, precise and succinct to develop a long-lasting business relationship. Also, perform a little research into the recipient and tailor the message based on their interest to make a positive impression.

How To Develop Networking Skills

Here are a few ways to develop your networking abilities:

1. Set your networking goals

For ensuring that you are utilising your time and resources appropriately to create a strong network, it is important to set goals. The first step towards setting your goal is understanding what you want to accomplish by connecting to industry professionals. You may build your network for better job opportunities or receive career advice.

2. Improve your communication and public speaking skills

Practice good communication and public speaking habits to improve your networking abilities. Try to maintain eye contact when speaking with someone and nod your head while listening to another person. The more you improve your public speaking skills, the better you can build rapport and connections with others.

3. Ask for constructive feedback

Constructive and honest feedback can help you improve your communication style. To further improve your skills, ask your friends how you are conversing with them. This can have a significant impact on your networking skills.

4. Attend networking events

One good way of improving this skill set is attending networking events to get in touch with professionals from different fields. Ask relevant questions to show your genuine interest and listen closely to what others say before replying to their questions. While attending such events, focus on building quality relationships.

Highlight Networking Skills

Networking skills can help you in every step of your job search. If you are entering sales, marketing or business development, it is an important skill to showcase during your interview and in your CV. Some ways to highlight these skills are:

For your CV

When preparing your CV, try using words that showcase your ability to network, build and maintain relationships with others. Using keywords like business development and business relationship strategy in the skills section can be effective. You can even showcase your networking abilities in the work experience section by mentioning a previous role where you gained new clients.

For a professional summary

Your professional summary is another good place to outline your networking skills. Utilise the professional summary to highlight your networking qualities to position yourself as a suitable candidate for a job role. Consider mentioning examples of business development projects you handled in a previous role. If you have a professional coach, say that you used your networking skills to connect with the coach and build a mutually beneficial relationship.

In your interview

Job interviews are a great place to showcase your networking abilities to potential employers. For face-to-face interviews, try maintaining eye contact and ask insightful questions to showcase your skill set. Also, actively listen to all the questions and carefully think before answering the questions. If you have experience building and maintaining client relationships, an interview is a place to showcase your skill.

In your workplace

While at your work, showcase your networking abilities by listening carefully to your colleagues/manager and displaying a positive attitude towards everything. Also, seek to develop professional relationships with other employees and showcase empathy and positive thinking in every conversation. To build a long lasting relationship, pay close attention to your body language.

What Are Three Examples Of Good Networking Practices?

Three examples of good networking practices are:

  1. Listen carefully. When interacting with others, listen carefully to others. When you listen, you understand the viewpoints of others and empathise with them. This allows you to provide intelligent answers and build rapport with others.

  2. Focus on current connections. Cultivate your relationship with the current connections to discuss your professional goals and aspirations. These connections may help you provide guidance, advice and resources.

  3. Ask good questions. Asking the right questions can help you build rapport and trust with others. Also, it helps you open the line of communication and help your focus on the subject while discussing a topic with others.


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