Two Most Important Networking Skills

“Networking is a process where you develop long-term relationships with others for mutual benefit.”

You may ask, “Why should I network?  I work hard all day – I just want to kick back at night and relax. “  If someone tells you there are networking opportunities during the day, you might say “I’m too busy during the day.”  These are just two of the myriad excuses we come up for not networking.  Usually, the real excuse is somewhere between “I don’t want to”, and “I don’t know how”.  The first excuse is hard to deal with.  The second one, well, let’s talk about that.

Why network?

  1. Maintain relationships with existing clients
  2. Meet new clients
  3. Give and get referrals (notice “give” was listed first)
  4. Create word of mouth and visibility for you and your business
  5. Develop a volunteer “sales force”
  6. Have FUN and grow as an individual


Sounds good.  But how to go about it, how to do it right, and how to get results; those are the important questions; and as for most questions, there are answers.


Before you hit your first networking event, you should set some goals and expectations.


Networking, when done right, should

  • Increase your brand awareness
  • Educate others about your business
  • Educate yourself
  • Develop trust and relationships
  • Give referrals to others



What should be your most important networking skill?  LISTENING

Yes, listening.  Not passive listening, waiting for your chance to talk, but active, responsive, riveted listening.   You get good at this, you’ll be a killer networker.


When they stop talking, your listening is not over.  Now, you get to ask questions and then, again, listen to the answers.



  1. What do you like best about what you do?
  2. What got you started in your business?
  3. What do you like most about what you do?
  4. What are some of your biggest challenges?
  5. How can I help you?


When it’s finally your turn, what do you tell them?  What do you want them to take away from your conversation?  There’s lots’ of different ways to approach this.  Whatever way you go, you want it to be:

  • Brief
  • Clever (don’t shoot for “funny”)
  • Memorable
  • Relevant


For my business (communication skills and public speaking), I sometimes open with a quote from George Bernard Shaw; “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion it has occurred.”  It’s brief, relevant and thought provoking.


Telling a quick story that shows how you helped a client solve a problem is always a good choice.  What you don’t want to do is verbally vomit all your products and services.  If you have listened well in the beginning, you may very well know what he or she needs to hear.  I emphasized this because it’s important.  Don’t tell them what you want to tell them.  Tell them what they need to hear.  It’s an important distinction.  With good listening skills, you may be able to pick up on this.



Be a FARMER, not a hunter.  A hunter goes in for the quick kill.  A tasty, one-time meal.  The farmer is looking forward to the future harvest.  The farmer:

  • Finds the right field (networking, research)
  • Plants the seeds (listens, asks questions, learns what people need)
  • Puts down the fertilizer (gives referrals, advice, and follows up)
  • Pruning (cut out the time you spend on long-shot deals and obvious dead-ends)
  • Harvesting ($$$)
  • Preservation (take care of the clients you have)


Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?



  • Follow up – email, telephone call – within a day or two
  • Set up appointments at the networking events
  • Offer a referral – it will come back to you seven-fold
  • Ask if you can add them to your mailing list


So, I hope this is helpful.  If you want to further discuss any of this, give me a call.  You know I like to talk!

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