Did you ever wonder where the term “networking” originated? In the technological world, networking means “the act of linking computers so that users can exchange information or share access to a central store of information.” (Encarta Dictionary: English)
In the social world “networking” refers to “the process or practice of building up or maintaining informal relationships, especially with people whose friendship could bring advantages such as job or business opportunities.” (Encarta Dictionary: English)
Using this technological definition, let’s relate it to networking for business…
Users share access to a central store of information. Translation: Business owners exchange information with other business owners’ contacts. But as with computers, if we don’t input correctly, our output will not be effective and will leave us questioning where we went wrong.
So what makes a person a successful networker? There are a number of attributes that comprise a successful networker which I have listed below. A successful networker will…
1. Have a plan in place prior to attending a networking event
2. Have a mindset of giving rather than getting
3. Know what networking events are the most worthwhile to attend
4. Know what to do with the names and information collected at the networking event
5. Limit the amount of time spent with each person
6. Not be self-centered
7. Know how to connect the people they meet
8. Work the room graciously
9. Keep their cards in their purse or pocket only to be handed out when asked
10. Project self-confidence
All are worthwhile to cultivate if you want to be successful at networking; but, rather than starting at the top of the list and working down, this article will examine the last item on the list: Projecting self-confidence. In venturing a guess, I would say that most people feel uncomfortable on some level going into a room filled with people they don’t know. Some are mildly uncomfortable and some would rather have a root canal than go into a room of unfamiliar faces. If you don’t have a lot of self-confidence going to networking events, I can tell you from experience and as straight-forward as I can… you’ll need to get some. People will be able to pick up a lack of confidence as soon as you enter the room. Hopefully this article will help you eliminate some of the negative thinking that goes along with a lack of self-confidence and help you become more aware of how to manage your emotions. This is the concept of emotional intelligence and it describes a way to establish your ability to handle your emotions.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to identify, evaluate and manage or control emotions.
Our emotions dictate how we feel about ourselves and others which will have an effect on our self-confidence one way or another. I’ve provided a link to a self-assessment for you to learn a little about what you EI score might be. A life coach or business coach would have more in-depth assessments if you chose to hire a professional to help you determine your emotional intelligence score and how to improve it if needed. Harvard Business Review suggests that a person with high emotional intelligence is a more effective leader than one with a lower score.
The assessment will be a great start to determine where you rate at the present time and give you some insight on how you might improve at networking events. I say “at the present time” because if your test results show you are below average in that area you’ll need to take some steps to overcome your lack of confidence. It may not be easy, but it IS attainable.
Let’s look at an overview of emotional intelligence (EI)
I said earlier EI is the ability to perceive, evaluate and control emotions.
There are 4 quadrants that make up EI:
- Social Awareness
- Relationship Management
Quadrants 1 and 2 are labeled Self-Awareness and Self-Management and refer to how well you identify and control your own emotions. Let’s examine those first.
Self-awareness refers to how aware you are of your own emotions. For example:
- Can you pinpoint when you’re anxious or angry?
- Do you know when you feel sad and what the cause of that sadness might be?
- Are you aware when you feel like doing or saying something impulsive or even rude?
- Conversely, do you understand when you feel ecstatic or joyful and can you determine when you are content or having a pleasurable experience.
- Can you recognize your strengths and weaknesses?
- Do you try to do something that you aren’t gifted to do and refuse to admit that you lack ability?
Self-awareness is a very important start to developing high emotional intelligence. If you are not aware of your emotions you won’t be able to manage them.
If you passed the awareness test, that’s the first step in managing your emotions. Ask yourself:
- Are you able to follow through on commitments; or do you lack the ability to finish a project?
- What do you do when you have identified when you’re angry or sad? Do you lash out? Do you throw things? When you are depressed do you stay in bed and wait until it passes?
- Do you say things impulsively that you wish later you could take back?
Well, of course, we’ve all been; there but to have high emotional intelligence means that you learned that handling your emotions in a negative way isn’t the best way to express yourself. It’s crucial to learn techniques that will enable you to manage your emotions better next time. In fact, taking that first step to make a decision to learn how to manage your emotions is a sign of a high EI.
Quadrants 3 and 4
The lower two quadrants in the EI Model refer to how you interact in social relationships. Quadrant 3 refers to your social awareness or how well you are aware of other people’s emotions and quadrant 4 refers to how you manage those relationships to maintain good relationships.
Here’s some questions to help you probe what your awareness is of others’ emotions:
- When you meet someone for the first time, are you able to determine their personality and relate accordingly?
- Are you able to fit in comfortably in a social situation or do your palms get sweaty at the thought of meeting new people?
- Are you able to discern personalities in a group setting?
If you feel confident in social situations, chances are you have a healthy EI.
Finally, quadrant 4 refers to how well you manage relationships whether personal or business. For example:
- Do you work well with others ;or do you insult them when you don’t agree with them?
- Do you attempt to work peacefully with others and manage conflict well?
There’s always going to be conflict in a relationship no matter how good it is; the question is how well do you manage the conflict and what are the results when conflict happens?
Networking and EI
How does understanding your EI help you with your networking skills? When you know yourself, and understand how to manage what you know about yourself, you will feel more confident when meeting others. You won’t be a slave to your emotions. You’ll learn how to input positive things into your mind and bring renewal to your emotions. You’ll feel empowered as you overcome negative feelings or manage a disagreement in a relationship with little damage to the relationship. Better yet, when you manage the conflict so well that you developed an even closer relationship with the person you will have come a long way in mastering your emotions and relationships.
Feeling empowered by maintaining healthy emotions and managing relationships well will provide the self confidence that will serve you well when you enter the room filled with other business owners. You’ll no longer need a buddy or feel that you have to drag yourself to a networking event. Meeting people will be a joy and a great way to bring others joy as you interact with them in a positive and healthy way.
Who knows…you might get so good at managing your EI that you need to tone down your “self-confidence” some to improve your networking skills.
Kingsway Solutions, LLC
Visit our website at www.kingsway.co
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