The 7 networking skills every leader must have

By Haylin Belay
The Brief
Whether or not you’re on your company’s sales team, you have a stake, and therefore a level of responsibility, in its business and revenue generation strategy. Your boss knows that, and she’ll expect you to contribute where you can—leveraging your network contacts to connect with prospective clients, gather referrals and court potential partners. With that in mind, here are seven vital networking behaviors you’d better add to your repertoire if you want to impress, and maybe one day become, the brass.
networking skills

1. Keep those old friends.

Did you have a life before your current job? Of course you did, and your boss knows it. Yesterday’s coworkers, classmates and teammates could be tomorrow’s clients or partners. Stay abreast of what’s going on in their lives—the promotions and new businesses—and you’ll have ample opportunities to reach out with a congratulatory note and perhaps a pitch. 

2. Be a giver, not a taker.

Does networking make you feel gross? Flip the script and start thinking of networking as helping. When you find ways to help others, they’ll naturally start looking for ways to help you, too. All those good deeds and favors can boost your company’s bottom line and your boss’ opinion of you.

3. Get out of your comfort zone

Truly skilled networkers can make friends in the strangest places, and having contacts in an industry other than your own makes you particularly valuable to your company. Try getting involved in an after-work sports league, or go to networking brunches that aren’t industry-specific

4. Flex your emotional intelligence.

Do you know your EQ? Studies suggest that emotional intelligence is a key factor in workplace success. People with high EQ are pleasant to work with and natural networkers—both things that your boss (and your coworkers) will appreciate. 

5. Be a power-connector.

We’re all constantly establishing passive connections, but a true power-connector is proactive about his relationship web. Make a list of people and organizations you want to connect to, and then start looking for paths to get there. It’s more work up front, but a lot less time later.

6. Set your filters.

It may sound obvious, but every day, people make little mistakes online that have career-impacting consequences. Even if a social media blunder doesn’t cost you your job, it could cost your reputation—and the reputation of your company within its network. Always remember to double-check your privacy settings, and watch what you tweet; your boss will appreciate it.  

7. Always follow up.

It’s simple, but effective. In the digital age, there are a thousand ways to follow up with your contacts. Those quick, short messages take very little time, but offer huge benefits: they make you more memorable, build your reputation as a reliable person and foster closer network connections.

Haylin Belay is a freelance writer and blogger based in New York City. She is a frequent contributor to the RelSci blog.

RelSci is a technology solutions company that helps create competitive advantage for organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers. 

Learn how to create internal sales opportunities from all of your employees with our white paper, “The RevGen Potential of Your Non-RevGen Colleagues“. 


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