It is no surprise that networking is an essential skill for anyone, whether for your business or personal life. Networking provides you with an extensive network of contacts, which connects you with opportunities, jobs, and talent. While understanding the importance of networking is one thing, putting it into practice is a completely different question.
Many individuals find networking to be a challenge, intimidated by conversations and building relationships. However, failing to do so can severely set you back, diminishing the chance of opportunities.
One particular strategy to build up your networking skills is to increase your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage emotions, at the same time using this awareness to manage relationships effectively. This understanding allows individuals to better connect with others, allowing them to easily make connections. Every individual has different levels of emotional intelligence, some higher than others. But unlike inert traits such as IQ or personality, emotional intelligence can be trained. With enough practice, individuals can develop and improve their emotional intelligence, influencing their ability to become a master networker.
The Relationship between Networking and Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence possesses a number of skills that fall under two major categories: personal and social competence. Personal competence focuses primarily on the individual’s ability to handle their own emotions and behavior. On the other hand, social competence deals with the individual in relation to others. Their ability to handle relationship and understand moods and behavior relies greatly on this trait.
Within these two categories are four skills, which play a major role in the individual’s ability to network and connect with others. These four skills are comprised of the following:
Self-awareness is one’s ability to perceive emotions and stay aware of his or her emotional state. Individuals can get caught up in a conversation or suffer from hurt feelings. However, this is disadvantageous for networking, as it prevents the individual from building relationships. By understanding your emotional state, you are better able to compose yourself and act accordingly.
Once you’re able to stay aware of your emotions, the next step is to effectively manage them. Self management is a key component of emotional intelligence, involving the individual’s ability to control their emotions and adapt accordingly. When dealing with different people, some may be more contentious than others, causing tensions to run high. However, those with high emotional intelligence are better able to keep their emotions in check, increasing their chances of establishing a relationship.
Individuals with a high level of social awareness are able to pick up on the emotions of others and navigate the social networks that build up around groups. With the ability to empathize and connect with others, networkers are able to better understand one’s emotional state and find common ground.
Last but not least, relationship management is the ability to use the aforementioned awareness to manage interactions. With this skill, individuals are able to influence and inspire a variety of people. Relationship management is critical for any networker, as it helps them keep track of their various connections. With a sufficient amount of relationship management, networkers are able to carefully manage and tend their network and stay on good terms with their multiple contacts.
About the Author: Sara Fletcher is interested in emotional intelligence in leadership and the role it plays in business professionals. She loves to explore psychology, business, and sports in relation to emotional intelligence training.