Networking is the act or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. Notice that doesn’t say, networking is a Career Fair, Conference or LinkedIn profile. All of those are networking mediums, but the act of networking is all just simple conversation. We have to practice & understand conversation techniques in order to actually improve our networking skills.
Research networking strategies and you’ll find that most presentations & articles center around one concept…the best networkers aren’t the people with the most to say, they’re the best at asking questions & driving conversation. So what is our strategy around driving conversation and asking questions? The Basic Listening Sequence.
Developed & utilized by counselors, therapists, and psychologists, The Basic Listening Sequence is more of a set of conversation techniques than a sequence. The techniques focus on driving conversation & connection through subtle prompting & asking questions (questioning, encouraging, paraphrasing, reflecting, and summarizing).
Networking events & organizations are fantastic. Many people will attain jobs and great professional contacts because of them. But what about developing relationships with your classmates, faculty, team members, peers at work, etc.? Most people will attain referrals and progress their career because of their ability to facilitate meaningful conversations in their day-to-day work & involvement. Focus on understanding conversation techniques and then you can implement them at networking events, and more importantly, in your day to day life.