It’s no surprise that connection brings you closer to people, especially when you’re with the right people at the right time. This is what networking is all about: bonding with people for professional reasons but in a connection-inspiring environment.
Humans are social creatures that need other people for survival. And even though we don’t have to look for danger at every corner and keep ourselves safe anymore, people need people for growth and evolution in any aspect of their lives.
This is where Keith Ferrazzi, the world’s leading networking expert and trainer of Mindvalley’s Mastering Authentic Networking Quest, comes in. With his guidance, you can deepen your knowledge on:
- What Is Networking?
- Why Is Networking important?
- Professional Networking
- Social Networking
- What Are Networking Skills?
- How to Improve Networking Skills
Sometimes, walking into a room full of people may feel like it’s going to give you the worst social anxiety. However, improving these abilities will not only contribute to your professional development but, on a personal level, it might empower you to feel a deeper sense of belonging.
What Is Networking?
Networking means meeting new people who share your interests, passions, or ideas about a topic. Usually, these connections happen between people in the same industry, but it’s not a general rule to be followed.
As Keith explains, “Everything you hope to achieve in your life, professionally or personally, is going to be achieved with and through other people, full stop.”
That’s the essence of networking: realizing that connections make us stronger. It’s not about taking advantage, but rather using our togetherness as fuel for our evolution.
The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.— Keith Ferrazzi, trainer of Mindvalley’s Mastering Authentic Networking Quest
Why Is Networking Important?
According to relational collaborative sciences, as explained by Keith in the Quest, relationships are the key to your success. He encourages you to see beyond business cards and recommendation letters; what creates true meaning and brings results are the authentic interactions you get to experience.
A longitudinal study from 2009 showed that networking is related to overall career growth and successful achievements over a longer period of time.
What’s more, Keith tells the story of how he would have never fulfilled his potential in the world if it weren’t for the people he met in his life. With those relationships, he received meaningful opportunities and gifts. As a result, he felt he had to give them back to the world.
Here are a few more benefits of powerful networking when done well:
- Improving your confidence and social skills
- Connecting to people with similar passions and values
- Having new opportunities in case you’re thinking about a career change
- Expanding your vision of your professional life
- Feeling supported on your career growth journey
Of course, everyone’s experience with networking can differ, depending on personal interests and near-future goals.
Success in life equals the people that you meet, and what you create with them, what you co-create with them.— Keith Ferrazzi, trainer of Mindvalley’s Mastering Authentic Networking Quest
As mentioned, authentic connection is the foundation of networking. With that comes being able to ask for help or advice, share knowledge, and celebrate success together.
This would be the goal of professional networking. And to do so, it’s important to have the right people around you.
Your professional network could include:
- Members of professional clubs or associations
- Even members of your extended family
- Acquaintances of people you work with
A good idea might be to mix up the kinds of networking events you start attending. According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, traditional professional networking might not be as effective as some of the alternatives.
Think about the possibility of hosting your own events, organizing a more intimate gathering with only a few people, or reconnecting with people from your professional past that you haven’t followed up with in a while.
What questions to ask when networking?
Keith underlines the importance of creating intimacy between you and the people you’d like to connect with professionally. Because genuine human connection is deeply felt and needed in every interaction.
So, of course, you can ask the common question of what you’re interested in regarding their jobs, careers, or acquaintances. But first, make sure that it comes from a place of curiosity and authentic interest.
To create this bond, you can use the FORD technique recommended by Keith:
- Family. Ask about their family, not in an intrusive way, but rather in the sense of showing care and interest in their personal day-to-day life. Try something like “What do you love to do with your family?”
- Occupation. You can think about asking what their occupation is, but also add questions like “What made you choose this career path?”
- Recreation. How do they spend their free time? What activities make them enthusiastic and full of energy? You can also ask something like “How does your ideal recreation day look like?”
- Dreams. You can talk about where they see themselves in the next few years and what their biggest dreams are. Asking a question regarding their dreams from a genuine place may sound something like “What excites you the most about making your dreams come true?
You may be surprised how many insights you get from having the common “small talk.” It can open up interesting conversations, perspectives, and opportunities.
Learn five powerful questions for authentic connections, explained by Keith himself:
Social networking refers to using social media platforms in order to stay in touch with people you’ve connected with professionally in the past or meet new ones.
According to 2022 statistics, the most common platform for social networking is Facebook. Other social media tools you can use to connect with people are Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
These social platforms are also a great way to attract potential clients and employers you’d like to interact with. And you can possibly meet these connections in real life, which will expand your professional network.
What Are Networking Skills?
Networking skills are a set of abilities that help you connect with people easily for professional reasons. They include a number of soft skills that are useful in the process.
A few examples of great networking are:
- Interpersonal skills
- Relationship management
- Active listening
- Public speaking
- Nonverbal communication
- Empathy and compassion
It’s not always possible to immediately access your best social abilities, but this is something anyone can work on. By taking into consideration a few tips and tricks, you will surely see a difference in your networking capabilities.
How to Improve Networking Skills
Life is about work. Work is about life. And both are about people.— Keith Ferrazzi, trainer of Mindvalley’s Mastering Authentic Networking Quest
Here are a few tips from Keith on how to improve your most authentic networking skills:
1. Discover the genius of audacity
Keith advises you to reflect on how getting out of your comfort zone will expand and improve any area of your life. And of course, you can start by doing so with the people you most want to connect with.
He shares a few examples of actions you can take:
- Career-wise. Pick somebody that you admire. Send them an email. Ask for a coffee or lunch. Come prepared with questions. Ask for homework. Follow up with gratitude by sending an email. Say that you respect and admire them.
- Sales-wise. Ask a current client or a prospect what they are interested in learning more about. Offer your research. Connect with an influencer on social media.
- Social-wise. Reach out to somebody who is interesting to you. Research their hobbies, their passions. You can invite them to an event.
You can try these out and just let yourself be surprised by how much people can open up and admire your audacity to take the first step.
2. Identify 5 packets of generosity
Keith highlights the importance of generosity when wanting to extend your social network. So instead of thinking “What can they offer me?”, you can instead think of ways you can add more value to their lives.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Give a compliment. Share what you have learned/gained from interacting with the person or their work.
- Introduce and recommend the person to your manager or someone else critical to their success.
- Offer research that might be beneficial for the business that the person runs.
- Suggest reading some books that would help the person grow (personally or professionally)
- Share a contact of a person you know that could help them with a challenge they’re currently facing
You’ll notice that the more you have to offer from a genuine place, the more likely people are to open up and share their knowledge.
3. Avoid being the “networking jerk”
There are some mistakes people make, says Keith, that are to be avoided when wanting to connect truly. Usually, these “mistakes” don’t aid the interaction but rather create distance between people.
Here are a few tips from Keith to avoid being the “networking jerk,” as he calls it:
- Don’t schmooze. Ask questions with kindness or curiosity. Don’t let yourself fall into a place of wanting to manipulate. You want people to feel like you’re sinking down into your heart when having a conversation, not into your head.
- Don’t gossip. Don’t engage in gossip and never start it. You don’t want others to think you’re “one of those people.”
- Don’t come empty-handed. Generosity is key, so never come unprepared. What that means is also about not coming with low energy, curiosity, and interest.
- Don’t fake it. Just remember that you can never fake generosity, authenticity, caring, or being curious. Always connect back to your heart and remember to be as close to your purest intentions as possible.
- Don’t undervalue yourself or overestimate someone else’s time. This means that you should never believe that you’re unimportant to a person you’d genuinely like to interact with because you don’t have the same social status. It’s only a part of a limiting belief you may have and it’s not serving you.
By becoming more and more aware of these things, you’ll notice how your energy shifts, simultaneously with the energy of the people around you. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around, right?
Great Change Starts With Embracing Connection
Connection is one of the primal needs people have. And it’s no surprise that you can use it to elevate all aspects of your existence.
If and when you feel a blockage in your ability to connect, a great thing to do is look out for the right guidance to take you through this process. And Mindvalley is the place to be for dealing with those barriers.
You can discover powerful insights and train your social skills through transformational programs, such as the Mastering Authentic Networking Quest with Keith Ferrazzi. With his expertise and charismatic personality, he can slowly spark transformation and change from within.
By claiming your free access today, you can try out classes from this program and many others to see if this powerful wisdom is right for you.
And the best part of it all is that you’re never alone on your journey, especially in the Mindvalley community. There are people all over the world with whom you can share your hopes and dreams and practice your best networking skills.
Don’t be afraid to open up to connection today. Welcome in.