Networking is the grease that slicks the business tracks of the world.

Not a single deal in the history of deal-making was ever built on a shaky and untrustworthy arrangement.

If you want to do good business, you have to grow your influence among a network of other influential people. Luckily, networking can be learned if you practice the right skill set.

This article covers the 7 essential networking skills to meet powerful people, grow your influence, and supercharge your business life.

Understanding the Power of Networking

Networking determines your ability to leverage strategic partnerships in your business life. Needless to say, a strong network will give a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Apart from massively increasing your income potential, networking has numerous other benefits such as talent acquisition, skill development, and access to industry insights.

The power of networking comes down to growing your influence amongst other influential people. When you can do it properly, your ceiling for success dramatically increases.

With that, let’s dive into the 7 most important skills for business networking.

Skill 1: Communication Skills

The bedrock for good networking is having effective communication. When you can communicate clearly and effectively, you have more influence over where the conversion goes and what it achieves.

Effective business communication comes in various forms. Here are a few areas that are essential to effective business communication:

  • Sales
  • Negotiation
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Professionalism


Sales often gets a bad rap from people that don’t understand it. Many people imagine the greasy car salesman scamming old ladies into financing deals they can’t afford. What they might not realize is that sales is a part of everyday communication whether you like it or not.

People sell their points of view, their beliefs, and their attitudes in normal conversation. I’m trying to sell you on the ideas presented in this article right now (is it working??)

At its core, sales is simply the practice of influencing others to take action. If we didn’t sell each other on things, we would never get inspired to do anything and nothing would ever get done.

In a networking context, you want to be able to persuade people to connect with you and eventually do business with you in some way. This is where sales becomes absolutely essential.


Negotiation is the practice of coming to a mutually beneficial agreement. Again, people imagine negotiation to be aggressive bartering or tricking people into bad deals. In reality, its an essential part of making sure all parties are happy in an arrangement.

If you don’t know how to uncover the other party’s needs while conveying your own needs, you will constantly make bad deals and no one will be happy.

Good negotiation leads to good deals which will make other people want to do more and more business with you.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is the ability to work through disagreements calmly and professionally. When passionate people come together to do business, there will inevitably be conflicting points of view. In these instances, it’s extremely important to preserve the relationship while getting to the bottom of the issue.

When you sense tensions rising, you have to be able to focus on the task at hand, make sure everyone has their say, and keep the discussion on the task at hand.

Effective conflict resolution will make you an effective team builder and leader which will stimulate productivity and make your business relationships thrive.


Professionalism in business doesn’t just mean wearing a suit and being polite (although these things can be helpful), it has to do with how you conduct yourself.

A business mentor of mine once gave me a great descriptor for professional business conduct – he said you have to be “scrupulously honest”.

Be “scrupulously honest”

Being scrupulously honest means always doing what you say and saying what you do. There is no detail too small when it comes to professional conduct. If you can be steadfastly reliable in all of your dealings, you will be ahead of 90% of people.

Here are a few ways you can maintain professionalism right now:

  • always show up on time
  • always follow through on promises
  • be open and transparent about shortcomings
  • confront uncomfortable issues head-on

When you network with powerful and influential people, your word is your bond. Build trust and maintain your reputation at all costs.

Skill 2: Active Listening

Active listening is the practice of confirming understanding of another person’s point of view. This is incredibly important to build strong connections. People are more open to engaging with you when you are able to listen and synthesize the message they are trying to convey.

The legendary book by Stephan Covey “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” encapsulates the power of active listening with the habit “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. Your goal should be to confirm understanding on a deep emotional level instead of jumping to preconceived conclusions.

Active listening fosters:

  • openness
  • intrigue
  • genuine connection
  • constructive dialogue

Here are a few techniques you can implement right now to improve your active listening ability:

  • listen intently to the message behind the dialogue
  • confirm your understanding by summing up the message
  • ask open-ended questions to get the other person to elaborate
  • Affirm the other person’s viewpoint by showing empathy

When you engage in conversation with others from an open and curious viewpoint, you will instantly become more interesting to other people.

Skill 3: Mastery of Digital Tools

In our modern age, there are practically infinite possibilities to engage and foster relationships with others. In this article about the 5 Step Process to Improve Your Networking Skills, we reveal how to follow-up with new contacts and solidify lasting connections.

Here are a few tips for leveraging digital tools to expand your network:

  • Maintain professional social media accounts
  • Post valuable content regularly
  • Add new contacts to your social network
  • Always follow up with new contacts and show interest in their projects
  • Engage with other people’s content regularly

Reaching out and engaging with other people’s content keeps you top-of-mind and expands your reach and influence.

In a sales context, you can also leverage digital tools like prospecting platforms to target industry professionals and reach out with personalized mass emails.

Digital tools can supercharge your networking efforts by systematizing and automating your outreach and relationship building.

Skill 4: Building Genuine Relationships

In order to build productive lasting relationships, you have to be genuine and authentic. People crave authentic connections, so when you can pull this off, your network will expand exponentially.

Authenticity is a hard concept to convey because the idea of “authenticity” is so nuanced.

Many people think that being authentic means not caring what other people think. This can lead to behaviors such as dressing sloppy or being rude.

Being intentionally offputting is not an expression of authenticity, it’s actually a defense mechanism holding us back from being vulnerable.

In order to truly understand what it means to be authentic, we have to assess what holds us back from letting out our inner beauty.

In this post about escaping the matrix in the modern day, I go into the concept of owning and transcending your emotions.

In order to express your true self, you have to get over the fears and insecurities that hold you back:

  • shame
  • social disapproval
  • fear of failure
  • fear of loss
  • anger

These emotions can cause us to curl up into a proverbial ball and shy away from authentic interaction. If you’re like most people (not a psychopath) you will feel a very natural urge to want others to like and accept you when you go out to network.

These emotions are not your friend.

Excessive dependence on the need for approval can lead to people-pleasing, aggressive mannerisms, shyness, and overall fakeness.

Don’t be overly nice. Being authentic means that sometimes people won’t like you.

To make authentic connections, you want to be open and vulnerable. This means that you are aware of the risk of disapproval but willing to engage anyway.

The trick is to feel the fearful emotions in your body, accept them, and move forward with good intentions.

When you meet someone new, don’t have any expectations for where the interaction will go. Instead, have a clear intent to communicate authentically and release the dependence from a certain outcome.

The beauty of authentic connection is that you truly don’t know how the other person will react which makes networking a fun adventure. Even if most people don’t accept or like you, you will probably make a few genuine connections which are far more valuable anyway.

Skill 5: Follow-Up Strategies

If you don’t follow up after meeting someone new, they will probably forget about you. Don’t take this personally, but look at it from the other person’s perspective.

Everyone has busy lives and other relationships to maintain so if you don’t put in the effort, they won’t either.

Take the responsibility and initiative to nurture existing relationships by keeping the conversation going.

At the bare minimum, you should always add new contacts to your social media (see skill 3) and send a quick follow-up message:

“Hey [name], it was great meeting you tonight, excited to see how “X” turns out, let’s keep in touch.”

Even if this follow-up message leads nowhere, you’re giving the other person an opportunity to respond and keep the interaction going.

As you continue the conversation, send over little tidbits and valuable information that you think could be valuable to your contact – book recommendations, current events, etc. Also, keep an eye on their posts and projects – show interest by commenting or DMing to congratulate or ask questions.

The idea is to give value and show enough interest so that they are more likely to reciprocate.

Consistent follow-up has built tons of valuable and sustaining connections in my life which eventually turned into new opportunities down the road.

Skill 6: Personal Branding

Personal branding is the perception that you create in people’s hearts and minds. By default, people will make judgments and assumptions about who you are and what you represent.

You cannot CONTROL what other people think, but you can INFLUENCE them to have a certain perception. The goal is to make a memorable impression that conveys your value and mission.

A good place to start with your personal brand is to write and practice an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch sums up who you are and what you do in a concise and memorable way.

Read this article about how to improve your networking skills to learn more.

For a more in-depth breakdown of how to build a brand, check out this article about brand copywriting and apply the concepts to your personal brand.

Skill 7: Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is one of the most important skills you can develop in your professional life. Emotional intelligence is commonly denoted by an Emotional Quotient (EQ) score. The EQ is all the rage in the business consulting world because it predicts high performance and a high ceiling of success.

In networking, high EQ is just as important because you are effectively building relationships that could turn into working relationships at some point in the future.

As laid out in the Harvard Business Review, the four components of emotional intelligence are:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-management
  3. Social awareness
  4. Relationship management


Self-awareness refers to your ability to self-assess. It is imperative to understand how to come across to others, especially in tense situations. Needless to say, if others perceive you in a positive light, your networking opportunities will multiply.


Self-management is related to self-awareness but focuses more on your behavior in social situations. Do you react emotionally to tense situations or do you have a process for working through your emotions?

Social Awareness

Social Awareness is your ability to “read the room”. When you walk into a networking event, you have to be able to calibrate to the situation and conduct yourself with discretion. You have to work within the bounds of social convention while also knowing when to ruffle some feathers.

Relationship Management

Relationship management brings the qualities of emotional intelligence into action by constructively engaging with others. Good networkers introduce people, influence opinions, and foster productive relationships amongst their peers.

While some people have a higher EQ than others, the good news is that emotional intelligence can be learned.

All the more reason to get out, meet new people, and practice!


There you have it, the 7 most important skills for networking in business. Good business is done through good relationships. This is why it is so important to master these skills (if you want to have a thriving business).

Start with your own self-awareness, challenge your emotional responses, and aim to build genuine relationships based on trust and mutual benefit.

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