Networking is a vital skill for anyone that wants to see their business really thrive. Good networking means that you’ll find customers, but also partners, and broadening your circle means that over time you’ll have referrals directed your way at moments you never expected. Done well networking will bring in more business than advertising could ever hope to.
However, networking is not always easy or natural for everyone. Some people may feel anxious, awkward, or uncomfortable when meeting new people or reaching out to existing contacts. We’ve all seen that at Bx Networking meetings. People come, knowing that it will be good for their business, but then struggle to find a way to get involved. Others may struggle to communicate effectively, make a good impression, or follow up after an interaction.
We’re here for you and will help you make the connections within your Bx community that you need to. However, there are a lot of things that you can do for yourself too. The answer lies in understanding the psychology behind human connection and communication dynamics.
Human connection is the feeling of being close, related, or bonded with another person. You might be talking business at your Bx meetings, but the first step in networking effectively is in understanding that a human being is sitting opposite you.
With that in mind, the next step is understanding how to effectively interact with them, in such a way that leaves a positive impression. So, here’s a bit of theory to wrap your mind around. According to the self-determination theory, human connection is one of the three basic psychological needs, along with autonomy and competence, that motivate our behaviour. When we feel connected to others, we experience positive emotions, such as joy, gratitude, and trust. When we feel disconnected, we experience negative emotions, such as loneliness, sadness, and fear. Therefore, human connection is essential for our mental and emotional health.
We’re going somewhere with this, we promise. Bear with us a bit longer!
Communication is the process of exchanging information, ideas, or feelings with another person. It will start with your Bx meeting, but it will extend far beyond that, and it is the main tool for creating and maintaining human connection. Communication can be verbal or non-verbal, and it can occur through various channels, such as face-to-face, phone, email, or social media. Communication is influenced by many factors, such as the context, the purpose, the message, the medium, the sender, the receiver, and the feedback. Communication is also affected by our personality, emotions, attitudes, beliefs, values, and expectations. Therefore, communication is complex and dynamic, and it requires skill and awareness to be effective.
Understanding the psychology of human connection and communication can help us improve our networking outcomes in several ways. First, it can help us overcome our fears and insecurities that may prevent us from networking. For example, we can recognise that networking is not about selling ourselves or asking for favours, but about building genuine and mutually beneficial relationships (if that sounds familiar than it’s because you’ll hear it regularly with us – we consider this to be foundational to good networking). We can also acknowledge that networking is not a competition or a comparison, but a collaboration and a contribution.
Every so often someone does come to Bx looking for transactional-style interactions, but that’s the wrong way to go about it. With networking, looking to build long-term relationships is key in addressing the psychological needs that a person will be looking for from you in interacting with you.
Secondly, you want to be practising the communication techniques that support positive relationship building. You can learn and refine your abilities in areas such as active listening, empathic responding, open-ended questioning, and assertive speaking, to enhance your rapport and understanding of the person that you’re networking with.
A final area of psychology that will be worth keeping in mind as you develop your networking capabilities is in concepts of social capital, such as bonding, bridging, and linking, to diversify and optimise your network. We can also use the methods of relationship management, such as following up, staying in touch, providing value, and asking for feedback, to nurture and grow your network.
All of this might sound like common sense (and so much of psychology is), but here is an art form to is, and networking is a skill that can be learned and improved by understanding the psychology behind human connection and communication dynamics.
That might sound like a process – and it is – but also consider this. No matter how uncomfortable or “bad” you might think you are at networking, you can also turn it into one of your most effective skills. Some practice and rehearsal, as well as understanding why people act the way they do in networking meetings, can go a long way to helping you master this vital skill.
Since 2015, Bx® has helped thousands of businesses create meaningful, long-lasting referral partnerships to unlock an abundance of leads quickly. We do this by ensuring every meeting we run is professional yet fun, and it must follow our award-winning & proven formula, which does not include selling to each other! Our members also have access to world-leading business education resources and live & pre-recorded training programs worth more than $20,000. Start your journey to become the business owner you were born to be by downloading your FREE 4-Part Video Series, “How to Generate Income by Networking,” and then opting for a FREE Trial Membership to Bx® (Valued at $199), which includes two complimentary meeting tickets to xperience Business Networking Reimagined for yourself!