Building a great network is proven to be important to success in so many ways. For one, it helps you surge ahead in your professional career as well as get a fall back for when situations get a bit difficult. Not to mention, an extensive network of relationships built over time guarantee not just growth, but pleasure in life.
However, for most of the world, people’s social skills had been put on hold to prioritize the wellbeing and safety of the majority. For several months, various countries have urged its residents to stay at home as a precautionary measure against coronavirus disease (COVID-19)—pushing them to instead reconnect with their intrapersonal skills and discover new learnings about themselves.
Almost everyone had resorted to virtual communication for their professional as well as personal relationships, utilizing technology and social media to make up for the absence of physical contact. However, while digital methods somewhat helped conserve relationships, the act of staying at home had, in some ways, waned our ability to show efficient social skills.
And now that the world is planning to restore a sense of normalcy as the peak COVID-19 is believed to have been reached, a lot of professionals find themselves struggling to rewire their capacity to connect with other people in person.
Fortunately, regaining interpersonal communications is not as difficult as it seems. With the right techniques and ideas, you can effortlessly salvage your social skills as if they never deteriorated from isolation.
Determine the type of interaction you’re more comfortable with
Knowing the type of communication you’re good at allows you to strategize the way you develop your social skills, as well as build meaningful relationships. For instance, not a lot of people enjoy a large crowd, and would rather prefer one-on-one conversations to get to know someone. Others, on the other hand, consider group conversations much more enjoyable. When in doubt, always go with your intuition, and remember which conversations you remember as more pleasant. Figuring it out will surely help you ace socialization.
In addition, it also helps you improve communication areas you’re having difficulty with. If you’re not comfortable with large crowds, then you can practice it more until it becomes easier to be put in that situation
If you’re going on a party, a seminar, or simply meeting people, make sure you’re prepared to engage with everyone once you get there. If you’re not so good with instant conversations, one great hack to is research a list of potential topics people in the event might be interested in, as well as the kind of impression you want to leave. You do not have to be an extrovert to develop relationships. All you have to do is to be proactive enough to practice and explore ways on how to be a good communicator. Being able to do this will make it easier for people to remember you, which will be of great help if you intend to expand your network.
In addition, also practice how you can draw more people to the conversation. You can do this by politely asking other people for their own viewpoints. More often than not, this leads to more efficient exchanges, especially in a group setting.
Learn to listen
Have you ever been in an event wherein you meet someone who’s talking endlessly, leaving you drained after the conversation? It is what many others feel when the person they talk to don’t take the time to listen. One of the best determiners of a good communicator is how great he/she in listening. Communication is a two-way street. You need to be able to not only share, but also heed what the other person has or wants to say. Learn to ask questions and show interest in their stories. People love to know that others are interested in their points of view, and they also love it when you remember their stories—even the most trivial and simplest ones. Being able to recall their pets, hobbies, and side gigs is a sure way to not only stand out, but also strengthen casual friendships. This will also help you in the long run should you need to engage with them again in the future
Consider what they feel
American poet and activist Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This also rings true in terms of conversations. Experts said that what people notice the most is how the other person made them feel the first few seconds of meeting. This is crucial, especially in a business setting. You have to be able to talk and act in a way that would make feel you are trustworthy and confident. You have to be able to converse in a way that would make them feel you genuinely want to connect with them. It is definitely true when they say that first impressions last, at least in professional terms—and you can only leave a good one through your social skills.
Have you ever been in a meeting wherein you want to share your point of view, but you’re too anxious to speak up? And then, when someone else speaks and tells exactly what you had in mind, they take the credit and you end up beating yourself up for not doing it sooner? Most likely, this is what will always happen if you let shyness get the better of you in any conversation or meeting. The best way to stand out in the crowd is to share. Who knows? Your opinions might be insightful, and your stories might be interesting. You will never know unless you get it over with and just speak up.
One way to kill a conversation? Toxic negativity. Unless you’re absolutely close with the person, don’t spit up too much negative stories and complain about everything you see and read—doing this will guarantee that you’ll repel people and potential networks. The world is already enmeshed in so much negativity, and people need not hear more from you, lest it might drain them or worse, push them over the edge. Be the light in what is already a dark world for them because more often than not, they would rather network with cheerful and energetic people rather than toxic ones.
Isn’t it awkward when you meet someone again and you just don’t recall their names? Unfair as it may seem, some people do get offended when a person they met before don’t remember their names. Especially in a professional setting, knowing names is crucial if you want to expand your network. A lot of individuals trust those who know their names because it shows determination and interest. If you’re having difficulty remembering, make sure to ask people to repeat their name, spell it out, and even write it down. When you see them again, call them by their names—that will show how committed you are to socialize with them.
Know when to leave
It’s a good thing to be able to inject yourself into a conversation with someone, but another to wrap it up and move on. You don’t want to be stuck in a conversation no more than the other person wants to chat with only you for hours, especially if you’re both in an event. Both of you would surely want to get to know other people as well. This is why you should also learn to end a conversation with grace—such as through the words “it was a pleasure meeting you”—and move on when it has come to a natural end or you’ve reached your attention span limit. The last thing you want to force a conversation that should have ended when it was still at its peak.
People love it when others follow through from their initial meeting. A great way to maintain a network you gained is to make sure you fortify your relationship with them long after meeting them. Send a link of an article regarding a topic you know they like. Better yet, ask them for a recommendation for, say, a new recipe; do it and message them again to thank them for such a “great tip.” This will reflect how consistent you are in keeping them in your network.