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Seven ways to use networking as a self-development tool – StartupSmart

To accelerate as a businessperson you always need to be improving and growing. As the saying goes, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity”.

Often to make positive changes and achieve desired outcomes, we have to change the way we think about things and to do that we often have to change ourselves.

As the creator of a startup, ESC, I have personally used networking as a tool of self-development. Placing an importance on self- development will take your life to new heights.

Here are my seven tips on how to use networking as a self-development tool

1. Improve relationships

When networking you should always focus on win-wins and creating relationships for the long term. This will mean always being open minded and flexible. Transfer these skills to other aspects of your life and watch your relationships flourish.

2. Build confidence

Networking puts you outside of your comfort zone, at least when you first start. But, like anything, with time, networking becomes more natural. Networking will build your confidence in tackling uncomfortable situations and talking to new people.

3. Communication

Effective targeted networking is a result of excellent communication skills. Knowing how to talk to people is generally a good foundation on which to build. Once you have your communication down packed, focus on adding the right people to your network, not just anyone.

This can be done by asking better questions, being polite and getting to know the individual. Your network also requires you to be friendly and diplomatic. Learning this will take your communication skills to a higher level.

4. Active listening

Truly listening to others can be a hard skill but to be a good networker you must be able to listen to others. You will miss important opportunities if you aren’t completely listening.

5. Understanding and accepting

You are going to meet a lot of people, from different backgrounds, with different views on things that you may sometimes disagree with. Networking will certainly teach you to be more understanding and accepting of others’ opinions.

6. Body language

Networking forces you to become more aware of what messages you are sending even when not talking. Professional networking makes giving a good impression even more important. You’ll become more aware of controlling your body language. This will encourage you to improve your body language so you’re sending the correct messages even when you’re not speaking.

7. Being present in the here and now

Drifting off in thought is easy to do while talking to others, especially if you are not necessarily interested. But when it comes to business, we know that this can result in missed opportunities and create a negative image of you if they notice.

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