20 Best Networking Skills to Have and Develop in 2023

Networking is the key that unlocks many career doors. Your professional success and progress may often hang on the relationships you’ve built – or failed to build – over the years.
So, if you don’t possess and apply the right networking skills, you’ll struggle to take your career to the next level.

That’s why we put this article together. To help you create better professional connections and strengthen the relationships you already have.

We’ll cover the top professional and business skills for networking that will help you excel and show you how to add them to your resume.

20 Best Networking Skills to Have and Develop in 2023

Networking Skills You Must Possess in 2022

1. Self-Confidence

Having self-confidence is a great way to open many opportunities through networking. Whether you want to be successful in expanding your social or professional circle, your self-confidence will pay off long term.

Exuding confidence is not hard for people with strong interpersonal skills. However, many professionals still struggle with sounding confident during conversations and professional exchanges.

If you want people to take you seriously, you have to convince them that you have something to offer. And doing that goes beyond your knowledge, depth, and experience. You need to exhibit a level of confidence to get them to believe you.

So how do you build and improve your confidence? Follow these tips:

  • Understand everything about the event or conversation.
  • Get comfortable making eye contact.
  • Always stay on message and engage in conversations where you have knowledge.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know too much about something. Be open to learning.
  • Push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
  • Ask questions.
  • Practice your communication and engagement skills with friends and colleagues.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Never second-guess yourself.

2. Active Listening

Active listening is one of the most crucial aspects of communication and among the vital skills for networking. It’s more than just hearing the other party and allowing them to speak.

It involves paying attention and making genuine efforts to understand every word they say.
Active listening helps you ask the right questions, provide appropriate responses, and fully engage in conversations.

Using active listening can help you unlock different networking potentials. You’ll be able to pick up valuable information from conversations and ask questions that will help you uncover opportunities.
How can you actively listen during discussions?

  • Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.
  • Don’t interrupt the speaker.
  • Don’t plan your response while they’re still speaking. It’s okay to take your time to think about your reply once they finish speaking.
  • Never impose your opinions.
  • Try your best to avoid multitasking during conversations.
  • Ask questions.
  • Repeat what the speaker said to show that you were paying attention.

3. Empathy

Empathy is a powerful skill that helps you understand other people’s worldviews, emotions, and perspectives. This understanding allows you to shape how you interact with friends and colleagues and build better relationships.

According to research, empathetic people are better colleagues, friends, managers, and partners.
While empathy comes naturally to some, there are science-backed exercises that can make you more empathetic.

Here are tips on how to practice empathy:

  • Pay more attention to similarities than differences.
  • Practice active listening.
  • Talk to new people.
  • Consider what it’s like to live another person’s life.
  • Volunteer for humanitarian causes.
  • Always be honest with yourself.
  • Get feedback.
  • Leave your usual environment.
  • Undertake challenging activities.
  • Learn a new skill.
  • Ask questions.

4. Digital Proficiency

The Internet has revolutionized networking. While attending in-person conferences and events can help you expand your professional network, people also forge meaningful connections through social media.
Sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook can be exceptional tools to help you start and build new relationships.

However, you must know how to use these platforms to get results.

There are different ways you can capture the right people and build your network on social media. Here are some valuable tips:

  • Create a LinkedIn profile and follow professionals in your industry and niche.
  • Always post engaging content.
  • Join important conversations and share your insights in comment sections and places like Twitter Spaces.
  • Join online communities and share your lessons and experiences on group timelines.
  • Be consistent with your messaging and make sure you always show up on other people’s feeds.

5. Messaging Etiquette

You have to master the art of messaging etiquette to leave the right impression and boost your connections.

You must use the right tone and words for every conversation.

For example, speaking to someone for the first time requires a careful approach. Ongoing conversations also have etiquettes that guide them.

The platform with which you’re communicating also guides your messaging etiquette. Whether you’re sending out emails, or going through LinkedIn DMs, there are different ways to approach conversations on different channels.

Here are tips that you should follow:

  • Use the right channel for each conversation. Know when to send an email or social media message.
  • Use instant messaging platforms for quick responses to casual, semi-formal requests.
  • Use relevant subject lines and professional vocabulary in emails.

6. Humor

Researchers say that humor is vital to work success because it puts people at ease, makes them enjoy interactions, reduces mental stress, and helps them build trust.

The input of humor in tiring workplaces can also be applied to networking. When you make people laugh they’ll look forward to conversations with you. That’s because you have the ability to share positivity.
These are traits that help you build meaningful connections and relationships.

So, if you know how to use it, humor can be your secret weapon to making the most of networking.
But it’s not just about telling jokes and using smart quips. Having a good sense of humor also involves recognizing and appreciating a joke. It’s a two-way street that makes your co-speaker feel understood.
Your connection deepens when you understand each other’s funny sides.

Here are tips that will help you improve your humor:

  • Find and use the funny side to almost any situation.
  • Smile when you tell jokes.
  • Go out more and observe other humorous people.
  • Be careful about practical jokes and try not to offend others.
  • Avoid using sensitive subjects and dark humor unless you really know your audience.
  • Put a positive spin on bad situations.
  • Watch stand-up comedy and practice.

7. Optimism

No professional can escape the realities of difficulties, setbacks, and stress. The important thing is not to let them cast a shadow on your work and affect how you interact with people.

Maintaining a positive outlook influences how you communicate and collaborate. It also keeps you motivated to continue pushing even on days when you don’t feel like stepping out.

People will be more comfortable interacting with you when you always transmit positive energies.
You should note that optimism involves seeing the positive side of things. However, it doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye when things go wrong. You can correct a colleague or friend when they make mistakes without making things awkward in a negative way.

While optimism comes naturally to some, you can practice it and boost your level of positivity.

These tips will help you maintain optimism:

  • Focus on solutions when you encounter problems.
  • Always pay attention to the positive side of things.
  • Engage in activities that you enjoy.
  • Spend more time with optimistic people.

8. Social Skills

Your social skills help you start and maintain conversations in any environment.

Improving these skills can make you the life of any conversation, help you shine in any room, and give you the tools you need to build and deepen valuable relationships.

These tips will help you improve your social skills:

  • Observe your co-workers’ social skills and learn from them.
  • Leave your comfort zone.
  • Build your confidence and humor.
  • Practice maintaining eye contact.
  • Go out more and get more comfortable in gatherings.
  • Keep up with current events.

9. Respect

Respect is another fundamental networking skill.

Showing colleagues and other professionals you respect their work is one way to create a great impression and make them respect you in return.

Showing respect isn’t tricky. You just have to maintain civil discourse and keep things professional. Even during casual conversations, you can bring up people’s work and tell them how it positively affected you.

Here are tips on how to show professional respect:

  • Share the work of people in your network to show that you respect their craft.
  • Listen to people when they speak and don’t interrupt them.
  • Apply messaging etiquette in your interactions and maintain professional boundaries where necessary.
  • Always be courteous in your engagements.
  • Always respond promptly to messages from people in your network. If you can’t respond immediately, let them know why.

10. Selflessness

You have to show a level of selflessness to maintain your professional relationships. Be willing to make sacrifices for your colleagues and partners. That way, they’ll be willing to do the same for you in the future.

Here are some tips on showing selflessness:

  • Undertake some business consultations without charging a fee.
  • Thoroughly evaluate your professional relationships before making sacrifices.
  • Offer to help a struggling colleague or professional.
  • Volunteer for mentorship programs.
  • Collaborate on non-profit projects.
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Top Business Networking Skills

11.Non-Verbal Communication

According to research, non-verbal communication makes up a significant percentage of day-to-day communication. People use non-verbal cues to send messages even without knowing what they’re doing.
Body language, hand gestures, stances, and facial expressions can convey more messages than words during a conversation.

That’s why it’s important that you know how to control your body language to send the right message.
That said, mastering non-verbal communication is more than knowing what gestures to make. Instead, it also involves knowing how to interpret a speaker’s body language.

These tips will help you improve your non-verbal communication skills:

  • Use good eye contact.
  • Focus on non-verbal signals and confirm whether the speaker’s words match their non-verbal cues.
  • Pay attention to their tone of voice.
  • Always consider the context.
  • Practice your non-verbal communication skills regularly.

12. Verbal Communication

Knowing the right words to use in specific conversations is an incredibly important networking skill. By using and understanding words that match a specific mood, professional environment, and social culture, you’ll be establishing yourself as someone others would love to interact with.

Improving your verbal communication skills also means you’ll be able to take advantage of things like speaking opportunities, interviews, and presentations.

These tips will help you master verbal communication better:

  • Understand your audience and environment.
  • Always use plain and concise language.
  • Think before speaking.
  • Listen.
  • Avoid using irrelevant words.
  • Use the right tone.
  • Practice your verbal communication skills.
  • Be mindful of your body language.
  • Collect feedback.

13. Attention to Detail

Your ability to sweat the small stuff will take you places most people can’t reach. There’s always a small detail in every conversation and information that can make a lot of difference.

Learning how to pick up those details will make you an invaluable asset, help you build stronger professional relationships, and boost your career progress.

Being attentive also makes you more efficient and productive at work.

Here are different ways to improve your attention to detail:

  • Read books.
  • Engage in focus-sharpening activities like games and puzzles.
  • Spend less time on social media.
  • Focus on quality more than quantity.
  • Always organize your workspace.
  • Listen.
  • Improve your analytical skills.
  • Avoid multitasking.
  • Avoid distractions.

14. Public Speaking

Public speaking engagements are among the fastest and best ways to gain exposure and recognition. This kind of attention will increase the number of professionals willing to connect with you.
That said, you have to be a great public speaker to make the most of the spotlight.

The good thing is, everyone can learn to be great public speakers. Implement these tips and you’ll learn the skills needed to make you comfortable while speaking:

  • Know your audience.
  • Practice with friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Use a personal story to connect with your audience.
  • Avoid relying on a script and make eye contact.
  • Record yourself speaking and make changes accordingly.
  • Speak in front of a mirror.
  • Collect feedback and work with constructive criticism.

15. Feedback

You always run the risk of negative feedback and rejection whenever you network. You must be prepared to receive bad news and move on without hating your job or losing any self-esteem.

This negative feedback can range from rejection to refusal to connect.

That said, feedback isn’t always bad. In fact, it will help you grow professionally.

One of the great things about networking is that you can get your professional contacts to review your work. They may shine a new light on things you got wrong. In some cases, you’ll get brutal criticism.
Don’t let any of the bad sides weigh you down. Instead, learn from them. These opportunities for self-improvement are why feedback remains one of the most powerful skills for networking.

Tips on using and dealing with feedback:

  • Review everything you may have done wrong and try to learn from every situation.
  • Always reach out to your contacts to get their insights on your interactions and collaborations. Get them to score your performance in aspects that they can.

16. Conflict Resolution

It’s hard to go through the span of your career and not experience any conflict. Workplace conflicts are inevitable and professional disagreements are normal.

In any case, a simple dispute has the potential to destroy relationships built over decades. That’s why conflict resolution is one of the most vital skills for networking.

Resolving conflicts requires great interpersonal skills, empathy, and conflict management techniques.
Your ability to handle disagreements and misunderstandings will help you maintain and strengthen your relationships. Here are tips that will help:

  • Always listen first.
  • Tuck your emotions away.
  • Focus on facts.
  • Find the root cause of the problem.
  • Use non-verbal cues.
  • Look for common ground and find a compromise.
  • Be willing to accept that you’re wrong.

17. Negotiation

Strong negotiation skills are a must if you want to make significant career progress. These skills can help you strike good business deals and even get a job back. However, they’re also great for networking.

Whenever you negotiate, you’re building a potential relationship or repairing a bruised one. You may be leaving the table with not just a new client, but also a new long-term partner and business contact.
That said, negotiation is not an easy skill. It requires a lot of precision. Ask for too much and your client looks elsewhere. Ask for too little and you diminish your worth.

So, how do you improve your negotiation skills? These tips will help:

  • Know exactly what you want.
  • Identify the other party’s interests.
  • Don’t go into negotiations with a competitive demeanor.
  • Take your time to prepare. Arm yourself with facts and talking points.
  • Never ask for too little.
  • Be assertive. Maintaining your stance shows you believe in the value of what you’re offering.
  • Make more eye contact.
  • Aim for a win-win outcome.

18. Collaboration

Your networking skills will be almost complete if you know how to collaborate.
Professionals always remember great collaborators and never hesitate to reach out whenever they need to team up for a project.

So, any opportunity you get to work with others, make sure you use it well to showcase your collaboration skills. Doing that goes a long way in helping you build and maintain professional connections.

These tips will show you how to improve your communication skills:

  • Practice Active listening.
  • Always share your ideas and insist on feedback.
  • Brainstorm solutions with other team members.
  • Always respect the team’s hierarchy.
  • Ask questions and be open to learning from others.
  • Understand that your ideas are not always the best. Be open-minded.

19. Assertiveness

Assertiveness is one of those negotiating skills that help you stand up for your perspectives, boost your self-esteem, and earn the respect of others.

You need this skill to show others that you are willing to throw your weight behind what you believe in. That way, they’ll value your relationship more, knowing how far you can go for them.
Assertiveness is also an effective style of diplomatic communication since it boosts mutual respect. You’ll be able to effectively pass across your message and also see and respect the point of view of others.

These tips can help you be more assertive:

  • Rehearse your point of view.
  • Practice saying no.
  • Work on your emotions and reduce their influence.
  • Use your body language to express confidence.

20. Consistency

You shouldn’t only engage in networking when you’re actively on the hunt for new professional relationships. You have to grow and maintain your network before the need to use it emerges.

If you only reach out to people when you need something, they’ll begin to grow tired of your presence.
Thankfully there are regular activities for professionals in almost every sector. The best are in-person activities such as conferences and award ceremonies. However, many online events are also valuable for strengthening and expanding your network.

Make sure you attend events every month.

But you shouldn’t just attend; ensure you’re also active. You can volunteer to join the organizing committee of any event and play a vital role in its success. You can also organize talks and seminars in your niche and invite other professionals.

Here are tips on maintaining consistency with your network:

  • Post daily to weekly on social media.
  • Engage others in their posts by retweeting and commenting on the posts of other professionals.
  • Regularly reach out to old colleagues and organize conference calls from time to time.
  • Let others know you’re open to collaboration.

How to Add Networking Skills to Your Resume

If you’re applying for a job that requires networking skills, you must show the recruiter that you have these skills. It goes beyond adding “Networking” to your resume’s skill section.

Use practical examples to showcase your networking skills throughout the resume. For example, under your experience section, you can tell how you worked with strangers and used your interpersonal skills to create positive outcomes.

networking skills on a resume

Then, list skills such as active listening, non-verbal and verbal communication, negotiation, and attention to detail in the soft skills section.

Key Takeaways

You can continue to improve your networking skills by taking online courses, especially when you have nothing to do at work. Remember to dress with intention, engage other experts on social media, organize events, and join professional communities.

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