Many people offer advice about what it takes to be a great networker (myself amongst them). One thing that is left out of that equation, however, is what other people think about what it takes to be a great networker. Networking involves interacting with others. So what do “they” think it takes to be a great networker? This is important because we all need to be cognizant of other people’s expectations and adjust our behavior accordingly if we want to make the kind of impression that will work to build a powerful personal network.
Recently, I took the opportunity to gather almost 3,400 survey responses from business people around the world. I gave them a list of almost 20 different characteristics on networking and I asked them to pick the top behaviors they’d like to see. From those responses, I have identified the top characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker and have listed them here.
- Good Listener. At the top of the list is being a good listener. Our success in networking depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately. Listen to people’s needs and concerns and find opportunities to help them. You can’t help others if you don’t know what they need, and you find that out by listening. In many ways, networking is about connecting the dots but to do that you have to listen so that you can help people make the connections they are looking for.
- Positive attitude. The first thing that people see from you is your attitude, how you take things in general. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike you and drives away referrals; a positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets. Others want to be around them and will send their friends and family to them.
- Helps Others/Collaborative. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Helping people shows that you care. One survey respondent said that “people want to network with individuals who have a collaborative attitude.” Helping others can be done in a variety of ways, from clipping a helpful article and emailing it to someone, to putting them in touch with a person who can help them with a specific challenge. Several respondents commented about not wanting to network with people who are “in it for themselves.” A willingness to collaborate and help others is essential as it builds trust and helps establish a strong relationship.
Check out my blog next month for more characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker.