5 Networking Skills You Must Know to Be Successful

top networking skills you need successful networks

A huge 80 percent of professionals consider networking to be important to career success. Yet 38 percent say they find it hard to stay in touch with their network. 

In other words, people know networking is important, especially in finding new job opportunities, but most people aren't that good at it. 

That's why we've created this article outlining five networking skills you should develop. Start with these basics and you'll be well on your way to growing and sustaining a valuable network. 

Keep reading to learn more about improving your networking skills. 

1. Work on Your Elevator Pitch 

When you're networking, one of the most crucial skills to have is the ability to quickly and effectively introduce yourself. Yet this can be tough for many people. 

Think about it. We've all been in a situation where someone like a new employee or partner asks us about ourselves and we totally blank. 

In the moment, it can be hard to effectively talk about yourself. So to avoid this problem while networking, take some time to plan beforehand. 

In networking, this is called your elevator pitch. The term comes from the concept that you have the length of an elevator ride (usually 30 seconds or less) to share your story with someone. 

Depending on your networking goal, you can tailor your pitch to fit your current needs. Looking for a new project management software? Be sure to mention that. 

Wanting to find a new job? Describe your experience, goals, and passion. 

In every scenario, make your pitch concise while still being passionate. 

2. Offer Help 

Next, be careful not to make networking feel like a one-sided relationship. Too often, people look at networking as an opportunity to get things for themselves. 

This is definitely part of it. But no relationship functions well if only one side benefits. Instead, you should aim to make your networking relationships a two-way street. 

Remember that just like you are entering networking with specific goals and wants, so is everyone else. 

To take advantage of networking fully, offer help to those in your network. Notice someone needing your skillset? Offer to assist them in some way. 

See that someone in your network is going through a hard time like the death of a loved one? Be there to support through providing a meal, writing a thoughtful note, or sending a small gift. 

As you do this, extending a helpful hand, your network will be more likely to do the same for you in the future. 

3. Bring Some Icebreakers 

This tip is always important, but it's especially crucial if you're headed to an event where you anticipate networking. The tip? Come prepared with some icebreakers. 

As you're meeting people at an event, it's normal for your interactions to all start feeling the same. You ask the same questions, have the same small conversation, and then move on. 

By using some creative icebreakers, you can mix things up, make it more memorable, and create more meaningful connections with fellow attendees. 

To do this, think of four or five conversation starters that will work with almost anyone. These could include asking about people's favorite food, mentioning a trending pop culture topic, or talk about their favorite place to travel. 

These can help you create more genuine and deeper relationships as you bond over common interests. 

4. Get Personal 

Now for another one of the most important networking skills: don't be afraid to get personal. 

While it's important to be respectful and professional, your networking interactions don't need to feel stiff and insincere. And the honest truth is that this happens often in networking situations. 

Whether you're sending a message on LinkedIn or meeting someone in person at a conference or meeting, try not to sound like a robot. This is important because it's always easier to talk with someone who feels like a friend instead of an intense interaction with a colleague. 

Try and find ways to connect over things that don't have to do with work. Do they mention they went hiking? Ask them about the trail and mention one of your favorites in the area. 

Do they talk about loving ice cream? Ask them their favorite brand and why. 

These little moments will bond you more than insincere corporate-speak ever will. Find out more about networking here. 

5. Don't Forget the Thank You 

Every networking interaction is comprised of different parts: the introduction, the middle, and the conclusion. 

In order for it to be successful, you need to end it strong. That final feeling will last long after you finish speaking. 

To end on the right note, be sure to end with a genuine thank you. Thank them for their time, their expertise, or their kindness. 

And don't let things end there. If you met in person, you should add them as a connection on LinkedIn. This will make it so you can easily reach out in the future. 

To make an even bigger impression, consider sending a handwritten thank you. This is appropriate for connections that you really want to stay in touch with. In today's online world, a paper note makes a big impact. 

Networking Skills You Need 

Now that you've read through these five crucial networking skills, what's next? It's time to create a gameplan. 

How can you best utilize networking in this current moment in your career? Figure this out and then get started. In no time, you'll be on your way to creating an incredible group of mentors and friends to help you throughout your career. 

Want to learn more about networking hacks? Keep reading our blog for additional ideas on improving your networking skills. Visit our Sales section to learn more about professional networking.

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