Advice for Students

How to Let Your People Skills Shine at Networking Events

April 23, 2018  |     |   0 Comment

As opposed to popular belief, networking is not about selling yourself.  It is about engagement with others and making purposeful and meaningful connections – some of which will turn into prosperous business opportunities and relationships.  The key ingredient to networking success is to focus more other others and less on yourself.

Networking is an excellent opportunity that enables you to demonstrate your people skills.  No one will tell you explicitly, but its important to know that you will be judged by how well you handle yourself and others.  Your people skills play a huge part in helping you reach your professional goals, and that includes your networking goals

A study done by Harvard University, The Carnegie Foundation, and the Stanford Research Institute supports this very fact.  The study found that technical skills and knowledge account for 15% of the reason you get a job, keep a job or advance in a job.  85% of your job success is connected to your people skills.

An important people skill, which we all do at one level or another, is small talk.  Small talk is defined as polite conversation about matters of little importance, especially between people who do not know each other well.  Small talk helps to put others at ease and “break the ice” when it comes to starting a conversation. It establishes a connection between two people.  Small talk does not have to be original or profound, nor do you need to everything about everything!  It is simply what we say to each other to be polite.

Small talk is a honed skill. Those who work at it are apt to do well. It takes practice.  Introverts will have to work harder on this than extroverts.  But it is important that wherever you fall on the introvert/extorvert scale, that at the very least you demonstrate your people skills.

During networking conversations, strive to be genuinely interested in other people.  Be curious. Use a networking conversation as an opportunity to get to know the person.  This level of focus will make the person feel like he or she is being heard, which in turn will make the person feel special and valued.

Do not talk on and on about yourself as you will leave the impression of being egotistical rather than appearing as someone who could help others.  Ask the other person about himself or herself and let that person be the center of attention. You will not only appear to be gracious, but you will also learn more about the person you are conversing with.

Pay close attention to the conversation as those little details may be useful not only during the conversation, but in the future.  You are gathering intelligence, which is good for any follow up purposes and post-networking strategies.  By actively listening, rather than thinking about what you will say next, you are able to think before you speak and naturally allow the conversation to flow, all the while learning a great deal about the other person.  They in turn will want to learn about you.  Thus creating the opportunity for a strong connection and professional relationship to flourish.

Networking is about creating rich and valuable connections with others.  Learning about others and the value that they offer will naturally create the opportunity for you to then share your value  – thus turning the networking mindset from “here’s what you can do for me” to “here’s what I can do for you” and creating networking success!

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