6 tips to update your networking skills for the modern corporate environment

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The importance of networking cannot be overstated. To get a glimpse of the opportunities it can provide, consider the words of Tom Farley, president of the New York Stock Exchange. Writing for Fortune Magazine, he credited every position he ever held to networking.

The Washington State University Carson College of Business understands the potential of networking, and we provide plenty of opportunities for you to form such relationships with your peers. If you enroll in our Executive Master of Business Administration online program, you can anticipate receiving ample support from faculty well-versed in the field of business. In addition, you’ll have to option to attend our exclusive three-day leadership conference with your peers, alumni and industry leaders.

That said, you may find it helpful to develop your networking abilities outside of an educational setting. Here are six suggestions to help you do so:

1. Develop your soft skills.

Behavioral and interpersonal skills like communication and collaboration, often called “soft skills,” are more important than ever. Yet, as the Small Business Administration noted, many recruiters and hiring managers are unable to find employees with these talents. Even at the executive level, soft skills are in short supply.

Being able to communicate effectively is vital for establishing industry contacts, which may be called upon in future business deadlines. Use the following tips to strengthen your soft skills:

• Pay attention to how you act during conversations to where you need to improve.
• Focus on projecting positive, interested body language.
• Practice maintaining eye contact.
• Try to see the other party’s point of view and consider their expectations.
• Listen to feedback.
• Work on speaking clearly, especially in emails and text messages.

These tips will help you communicate better, increasing your chances at establishing and maintaining professional contacts.

As a student at the WSU Carson College of Business, you can put your soft skills into play during our optional annual three-day leadership conference, exclusive to the EMBA program. This is a great opportunity to network and establish industry contacts with your peers, alumni and industry leaders.

Our exclusive Executive leadership conference is a great networking opportunity.

2. Focus on international partners.

An increasing number of organizations are conducting some form of business overseas. This is evidenced by Wells Fargo’s latest International Business Indicator, which found 81% of American businesses believe their cross-border operations will increase over the next year (this figure is up from 64% in 2016). It’s also noteworthy that this outlook remains high despite fears of the anticipated impacts of Brexit and changes to international trade agreements.

To kickstart your international networking, you have the opportunity to participate in an international field study if you enroll in the 100% online EMBA at Washington State University’s Carson College of Business. This 10-day trip is a chance to experience how other major corporations operate overseas. Previous attendees experienced a first-hand look inside the Chinese offices of Boeing, Porsche and Nike, among other businesses.

Additionally, you can join global organizations like Business Network International. This is a professional referral marketing project with over 220,000 members. Joining a local chapter affords you the opportunity to network with other city, county or regional businesses. According to its statistics, member businesses earned a combined $11.2 billion from BNI referrals.

3. Ask targeted questions.

In the past, professional networking was about making light conversation at professional events. Now, people realize the best connections are the ones built like any other relationship. This means you need to show an interest in the other partner through active listening and appropriate questions. Pay attention to what people have to say, and let their answers lead you to thought-provoking questions. This forces the other party to think critically about their response, increasing their engagement in the conversation. This engagement will carry through to the next time the two of you interact.

4. Be a valuable resource for your contacts.

The strongest networks are sharing relationships, not ones based on giving and taking. To develop these successfully, you must be willing and able to provide something of value. Otherwise, if professionals sense you are simply capitalizing on the benefits they provide without offering any of your own, they’ll stop working with you. Additionally, if these people have any idle conversations about your work – for instance, at a conference, business lunch or other professional setting – the ensuing discussion could damage your reputation.

That said, the term “of value” means different things in different situations. In many cases, it’s enough to simply provide a supportive ear. Help your contacts when they develop pitches, or share tips to assist their goals during a corporate restructure. Anything that helps your contacts with their ambitions can be considered valuable.

Share information or research your contacts may be interested in.

5. Know the difference between your network and your social media.

Followers and the people you follow on LinkedIn aren’t part of your network by virtue of this connection. These relationships are tenuous at best, and asking for assistance in the early stages can sever them prematurely.

That said, networking relationships formed online don’t have to be frivolous. It’s a commonly held stereotype that online communication always remains at a superficial level. However, these people can become true networking partners through careful cultivation. You’ll need to build a mutually beneficial relationship without relying on face-to-face contact. You can do so by:

• Supporting their efforts through use and promotion of resources they share on their social channels.
• Supplying some of your own resources so they see the value in networking with you.

People in your online network can be great for discovering issues and trends in new markets, possibly allowing you or your business to expand.

6. Introduce people in your networks to each other.

Helping your contacts meet each other is a great way to provide value to your partnerships. Furthermore, people will be more inclined to network with you if they know they can expand their professional address book or receive assistance on a project. For example, if you know of an entrepreneur with a great idea for a healthcare app, introduce that person to a developer associate.

In addition, introducing your contacts to each other increases the likelihood that they’ll do the same for you.

At The Carson College of Business, not only will you have the chance to network with peers, teachers and alumni, but you’ll also study a quality, highly ranked curriculum. Our online EMBA program was expertly designed to provide you with the knowledge that can elevate you to the executive level. Reach out today to learn more.

Recommended Readings:


Executive Networking in 2017: Four Trend Predictions


The Power of Context in International Business


3 Business Missteps Every MBA Student can Learn From


The Decade’s 5 Best Books for Business Students

Sources:

http://fortune.com/2015/07/07/tom-farley-networking-tips/

Executive MBA

https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/0416/pages/hrs-hard-challenge-when-employees-lack-soft-skills.aspx

Leadership Conference

https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/press/2017/intl-business-indicator_0418/

International Field Study

https://www.bni.com/about