ACTivity/ Networking is Connecting

Photo by Janita Himawati

Photo by Janita Himawati

Manila, 31 January 2018 — What does it take to be an effective networker? Leaders know that the key is to make a connection with the person you are talking with.

Networking skills are a must for leaders who want to create change in their business and boost their bottom lines. Often, networking is equated with having good speaking skills. Yet, there is more to networking than speaking, as listening is equally or more important. And so is the art of asking questions that help to create a strong connection.

Speaking, asking questions, and active listening are all part of the leader's toolkit for networking. That said, even when we have improved our communication skills, we discover that people see the world around them in different ways and therefore engage in networking for a variety of reasons. Participants in a learning session organized by the Young Professionals Committee of the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines gave a range of widely different reasons for joining a networking event.

Among the reasons that they mentioned were: benefiting from new ideas, meeting interesting people and listening to their stories, pursuing leads for business, learning from executives, learning to get your message out faster, and finding like-minded people. Remarkably, these reasons are closely correlated with the worldviews of the colors yellow, green, orange, blue, red, and purple in the Work In All Colors training.

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What this means is that when you engage in networking, you are likely to meet people who are triggered by very different motivations. Our challenge then, is to find out about what motivates them and to connect with them by talking in their language (one of the seven colors). 

Here are some tips that can make your networking more effective, shared in the framework of Triple C Leaders being curious, cheerful, and convincing. 

Networkers are Curious

The problem that people mention most often about networking is how to start a conversation with a complete stranger. Certainly, we need to overcome shyness and step up to the challenge. What helps is to know that going forward with your corporate pitch is not the only way to start. Asking questions and practicing your active listening skills are more powerful ways to make a deep connection happen. Foundational to that is how curious you are to find out about the person you are meeting with. Without curiosity, how could you make a good connection? Are you ready to discover some magic in the person you are talking with?

Networkers are Cheerful

In my experience, the best networkers are those who seek to give before expecting to get something from the other person. 'Give before you take' is a good motto to keep in mind when starting a networking conversation. Rather than just a transactional exchange of information, effective networkers make a connection. And to do that, it is important how we make the other person feel. Do we come across with a positive and cheerful attitude?

As Maya Angelou famously said, "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Learning to speak the other person's language in a networking conversation (choosing from one of the colors) is the best way to touch their heart and start building trust, which in turn is the foundation for doing business together. That is what making a connection is about.

Networkers are convincing

Whether we are introverted or extroverted, we have to work on our interpersonal skills to become good networkers. It takes an investment, and a good dose of courage. Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable, my colleague Coach Judee Quiazon likes to say. We need to get out of our comfort zone. Overcoming shyness is part of the 101 skills to practice networking.

After making a start, we can move on to learning to discern the language (color) that is most likely to touch the heart of the person you are networking with.

And then, practice, practice, practice to connect by speaking in the language of your audience. To do so, the key is to learn to Work In All Colors. 

Photo by Chelsea Murphy

Photo by Chelsea Murphy