How to succeed at the Networking Game

Networking in-person conversations, much like the networks themselves, are not self-sustaining, they require real commitment and drive in order to connect and establish the foundations of a relationship.

Once you initiate and make eye contact you need some tricks to establish trust, build rapport and make great first impressions.



Adapt Your Approach

Networking can feel uncomfortable – like a fish out of water – because we are exposed to people and situations that we are not used to. It can be uncomfortable, but that discomfort serves as a reminder of our need to adapt our approach for the different types of people we are looking to attract. How are they interacting? Is their style of communication indirect or direct, expressive or more reserved. Most importantly, watching and listening helps us to understand them better and communicate with them in the way that they like.

 Active Listening

Put simply, active listening is where you speak less and allow others to speak more. By taking this approach to your networking conversations, you can develop a more profound understanding what others are saying and most importantly, develop a stronger rapport with them.

When listening actively, it is important that we not only use words but also appropriate facial expressions, eye contact and changes in posture because we need to signal that we are listening and relating to what is being said. Successful active listeners also use questioning to prompt their counterparts to look for new ideas and approaches, helping them to focus on solutions rather than problems.

Here are some examples of phrases you can use to dive deeper: “Why is this issue important to you?”, “Just to clarify, you’re saying…?”, “What makes you say that?”


Finding the opportunity to move to the topics you want to talk about when networking is a challenging but vital skill. Particularly in formal, professional circles time is precious, so having planned topics or moves to break the ice is a must. Once the chit chat has run its course and others have had their chance, we need to look for opportunities to steer the conversation towards areas that are important to us.

Segueing enables us to do that even in situations where others have harnessed the discussion, for example “What’s most important here is that…” or “The key issue is…” helps us to navigate conversation towards our priorities.


It is all too easy to walk up to someone at a networking event, only to have nothing in mind to say, which starts the conversation off on the wrong foot.

Adapting your communication to match the preferences of others, listening actively to what they have to say and seizing your chance to move conversation in your direction can help you perform and succeed at the networking game.

Supporting Your Team – In Times of Change

5 Key ways to support your people

As an experienced manager or even if you are new to management, interpersonal skills are the intricate subtleties that influence and impact relationships. Here we look at how you can maintain efficient and productive relationships where your team can enjoy achievement and recognition.

Relational skills are at the heart of effective communication and a core strength in team unification for any team member, manager or leader. Yet how much time do we spend to consider, how our decisions and actions can better engage with others? When we get it right it is a natural state where people excel; they are engaged and motivated.

STLs London course on conducting meetings
influencing change

To understand how you can better manage through change your team there are five skills:

  1. Managing change – the key to influencing others is to anticipate when, and to who, the correct information is passed. Change management is about knowing that new directions, goals and policies can be for a lot of people, intimidating. Typically, we are victims of comfort, we don’t like change. Maximising performance through proper delivery of information, setting objectives and allowing individuals to participate in change is crucial.
  2. Body language – it is the tell-tale sign. Know what to look for and how to translate the subtle messages that are being sent. The rule of thumb is whatever is on your mind must come out through your body language.
  3. Building rapport – establishing trust is paramount for being able to effectively influence key decision makers and team members. Develop conversation to balance personal and professional needs and allow others to share their vision and values.
  4. Assertiveness – to lead by example and display an enthusiasm to resolve issues with a win/win attitude. It changes your presence when others see you as a champion of the team. This characteristic is one of the strongest skills to develop and earns the greatest respect.
  5. Emotional intelligence – the scope of translating how you feel and the capacity to regulate your emotions. It is how we respond appropriately and how we respond to other’s reactions that are essential for being an effective influencer.
With one powerful word

With these five key ingredients considered the effect can be truly stunning. The benefits rewarding and surprising. These are the skills of the great leaders, people who you want to work with and support. They give purpose to your efforts and make a direction clear, visible and achievable. They ensure communication is open and that other’s points of view are considered and more importantly encouraged.

The word is ‘because’. How many times have others felt left out or confused by a decision simply because – the choice had no explanation. It has been shown that more people comply with a request purely because is led to justify a reason.

Why communication goes wrong

Often there will be problems where understanding a colleague’s point of view. Those tangents that can erupt out of nowhere often catalysed by stress. The first port of call is to build from effective communication, the ability to be honest and express appropriately, your feelings. To say ‘I feel under pressure today’ in a calm voice builds trust with others and shows a willingness to share something personal. This is far better than saying nothing until the complication occurs and causes an over-reaction no-one was expecting.

The point here is that the key to influencing relationships is that often vulnerability, can be a strength. Are you really giving your team your very best or are you just assuming it?