Why Communication Is Crucial for Building Networks
Building a professional network is one of the most important things you can do for your career. But how do you go about it? And once you have a network, how do you keep it strong and growing?
The answer to both questions is communication. Communication is how we build relationships with people, and relationships are the foundation of any strong network. Whether we’re networking online or in person, facilitating communication is key.
Read on as Poised explains the role of communication in building networks and provides tips for success.
What Is a Professional Network?
A professional network is a group of contacts that can provide advice, support, and opportunities. These relationships are built on trust and mutual respect. A strong network can help you advance your career, find a new job, or start a business.
Your professional network includes people you know well and people you’ve just met. It can include family and friends, as well as colleagues, mentors, and clients.
Building relationships is no easy feat, and personal networking takes even more time and effort. You need to be proactive and make an effort to connect with people. The best way to form bonds with connectors is to meet a lot of people — communication is a number one priority here.
Why Do You Need a Professional Network?
There are many reasons to build a professional network. Here are a few of the most important ones:
An effective network can help you find a job.
Your social network can provide leads on open positions and introduce you to hiring managers. In today’s competitive job market, it’s essential to have a network of contacts.
It’s the power of the referral: Two-thirds of companies have a referral program in place — and for a good reason. According to Forbes, referrals are better culture fits, have higher retention rates, and are more qualified.
A professional network may advance your career.
Your network can provide opportunities for networking and professional development. They can also introduce you to influential people in your field, potentially leading to productive working relationships.
Start a Business
A professional network can help you start a business.
If you’re thinking of starting a business, your professional network can be a valuable resource. They can provide advice, leads, and introductions to potential partners and investors.
For example, you might have an in-person networking group nearby that can prove helpful. Other ways to meet new people could be trade associations, like those for business owners, real estate agents, or freelance artists.
Personal and Professional Growth
A professional network can help you grow personally and professionally.
Your network can provide support and advice as you navigate the ups and downs of your career. Finding a good mentor and friends in the industry should be a priority for any professional or entrepreneur, as it gives you unlimited access to different perspectives.
Networking can (and should) involve handing out your business cards, but it’s also moved to the digital space. During the pandemic, building social capital moved virtual — social media sites like LinkedIn became the go-to places to connect with like-minded professionals.
How Do Your Communication Skills Help You Network?
Your communication skills are essential in networking for a few reasons. First, communicating effectively can help you make a good impression and build relationships with potential contacts.
Secondly, communicating what you do well and what you’re looking for in a networking situation can help you find the right kind of opportunities. Strong communication skills enable you to follow up after meeting someone new and keep the conversation going.
Honing your communication skills will go a long way if you want to network effectively. Here are a few tips:
Asking Open-Ended Questions Helps You Connect
Open-ended questions are those that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. They require more than a one-word response, which makes them perfect for networking situations. Asking open-ended questions allows you to learn more about someone, and it also allows them to share their thoughts and experiences.
Asking open-ended questions is especially critical when you're meeting someone new. It will help you get to know them better and see if they’re a good fit for your network.
Here are some tips for asking open-ended questions:
- Listen attentively and make eye contact.
- Avoid interrupting the other person or jumping in with your own story.
- Wait until the other person has finished speaking before asking another question.
- Have a list of prepared questions ready to keep the conversation flowing smoothly.
Consider these open-ended questions for your next networking situation:
- What do you do?
- How did you get interested in that?
- What are your goals?
- Where did you go to school?
- How would you describe your profession/industry?
Active Listening Helps You Build Trust
Active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to fully engage with the person speaking. When you practice active listening, you pay attention to the other person, mirror their body language, and try to understand their point of view.
Active listening is a vital skill for business networking because it helps build trust. When you listen attentively, the other person feels heard and valued. This, in turn, makes them more likely to trust you and want to build a relationship with you.
Here are a few ways to practice active listening:
- Make eye contact and nod your head to show that you’re paying attention.
- Repeat back what the other person has said to ensure that you understand them.
- Refrain from interrupting the other person or thinking about what you'll say next.
- Ask questions to show that you’re engaged in the conversation.
Practicing active listening will help you build deeper relationships with the people in your network. And when you have strong relationships, you’re more likely to succeed professionally.
Confidence Helps You Make an Impression
When networking, it’s important to project confidence. This doesn’t mean to be cocky or arrogant but to simply believe in yourself and your abilities.
People like to work with confident people. So if you can project confidence, you’re more likely to find opportunities and succeed in your career.
Standing up straight and making eye contact during interactions will go a long way in projecting confidence. But your confidence must be genuine. Remember that it comes down to believing in yourself and your abilities, which sometimes requires you to research the people you'll meet and practice what you say in specific networking opportunities.
The truth is we all have insecurities, and most people don't navigate interactions with confidence and competence — it's usually one or the other. You don't want to be self-confident when you don't have a reason to, and you don't want to hide your competence in a situation because of false humility. Marry your competence to confidence, and you'll make an impression on everyone you meet.
Speaking Concisely Makes Your Points Clear
When networking, you must be clear and concise about what you do. People often meet many new people in a short period of time, and it can be challenging to keep everyone straight. If you can tell people what you do clearly and concisely, they’re more likely to remember you.
To practice speaking concisely, start by identifying your main points. Then, find ways to explain them in a few sentences. It may help to write out what you want to say beforehand so you can edit it down to the essentials.
Nailing Your Pitch
Keep your elevator pitch short and to the point when you're at a networking event. Remember that you don’t need to tell your entire life story. Just focus on the critical points that will help the other person understand what you do and why they should care.
If you can master the art of speaking concisely, you'll be more likely to make a lasting impression on the people you meet. An AI-powered communication coach like Poised can help you trim your delivery during virtual meetings, which will carry over into your in-person interactions!
Body Language Conveys Openness and Warmth
Your body language speaks volumes, even when you’re not saying a word. So it’s essential to be aware of the nonverbal cues you’re sending when networking.
Open body language conveys openness and warmth. Facial expressions, like smiling, also express these qualities. When you make eye contact and smile, you come across as approachable and friendly.
You can also use body language to show interest in the other person's words. Nodding your head, leaning in, and making eye contact demonstrate that you’re engaged in the conversation.
On the other hand, closed body language signals that you’re not interested or engaged. For example, crossing your arms or looking at your phone conveys disinterest. Avoid giving off these vibes when networking because people are less likely to want to work with you if they think you’re not interested in them.
Eye contact is one of the most important nonverbal cues you can use to show interest, but it can also make people uncomfortable if you stare at them for too long. The trick is to find a balance between making too much and too little eye contact.
If you’re not sure how you come across, ask a friend for feedback. They can give you an honest assessment of your body language and help you make adjustments accordingly.
What Communication Skills Can Poised Help You Build?
Communication is the cornerstone of building networks. If you focus on and dedicate yourself to sharpening your communication skills, you'll be well on your way to making new friends in the industry.
Poised can help you do just that. Our software tracks and analyzes many different communication metrics during video calls and gives you real-time feedback on how you can improve.
Here are a few of the skills Poised focuses on:
You must be aware of the nonverbal cues you’re sending when networking. Your body language can convey openness and warmth or disinterest and coldness.
Poised can help you become more mindful of your nonverbal communication. Our AI-powered coach will alert you of changes to make in real time and help you view your progress over time.
Poised focuses on skills like facial expressions, body language, and eye contact. By practicing these skills with the help of our software, you’ll come across as more engaging and interested in the other person. This will make them more likely to want to work with you!
Listening is a crucial communication skill, both in networking and in life. When networking, it’s important to really listen to what the other person is saying. That way, you can learn about their needs and how you can help them.
Poised can help you become a better listener. Our software will provide you with real-time feedback on things like how often you interrupt and how much time you spend speaking. Becoming more aware of your listening habits will equip you to make the necessary adjustments.
In addition, Poised encourages you to practice active listening, such as restating what the other person has said to show that you’re truly listening and understanding them. This technique can be helpful in networking because it shows you care about what the other person is saying.
By practicing active listening with Poised, you can make a great impression on potential business contacts. They’ll see that you’re genuinely interested in hearing their ideas and opinions, and they’ll be more drawn to the idea of working with you.
Clarity and Speaking Speed
Communicating clearly and smoothly are other crucial elements of building networks. You must enunciate your words and speak at a pace that is easy for the other person to understand.
Poised can help you improve the clarity of your speech and find your optimal speaking speed. The AI coach will give you feedback on things like filler words and upspeak. If you start speaking too quickly or slowly, it will encourage you to adjust accordingly.
Eliminating Filler Words
Filler words are words or sounds that we use to fill up space when we’re speaking. They don’t add any meaning to what we’re saying and can make us sound nervous or unconfident.
Some common filler words are “um,” “like,” and “actually.” Poised will alert you whenever you use a filler word so that you can become more aware of your habits. With time and practice, you can train yourself to speak without filler words, helping you sound more polished and professional. In turn, this will make you more likely to win over new clients and customers.
If you believe in yourself and your abilities, it will show in your interactions with others. This will make them more likely to want to work with you.
Poised can help you build confidence by giving you a space to practice your networking skills. You can use our software to role-play different networking scenarios, making you more prepared and confident when you encounter similar real-life situations.
Further, Poised provides you with plenty of feedback and encouragement on your journey. Seeing your progress over time can help boost your confidence and motivation. With each new success, you’ll feel more capable of building the network you need to achieve your goals.
Few things are as crucial as building networks in your career. And effective communication is the key to building strong, lasting relationships. By dedicating yourself to improving your communication skills, you can make a great impression on potential mentors, partners, and clients.
Poised can help you develop the skills you need to build your network and flourish. Read over our case studies and try a personalized plan today!