Making Connections: Improve Your Personal Networking Skills

Before sitting down to write this post, I kept returning to the same question: Why can networking be so nerve wracking? And I think I’ve found an answer: It’s a lot like dating. Only in a way it’s tougher because there’s more on the line.


TechCocktail DC Fall Startup Mixer 2010photo © 2010 Tech Cocktail | more info (via: Wylio)Even for those of us in the most technologically advanced fields, what really drives our business forward is the power of our personal connections. And forging the best connections possible is nothing less than an art form: It’s called networking, and if you’re squeamish about it, this month’s featured course at the HP Learning Center is for you. Improve Your Personal Networking Skills, like all courses offered by the HP Learning Center, can be taken at your own pace at the time and location that works best for you, free of charge.


The first valuable lesson I learned from this course is that there is no reason to feel awkward about reaching out to someone for the sake of making a professionally beneficial connection. That’s because networking, when approached correctly, is as much about helping others as it is about helping yourself. If you’re at a point in your career where you’re even considering how to sharpen your networking skills – and if you’ve read this blog this far, I’m assuming you are – then you have something to offer. Your knowledge of one aspect of your field, perhaps, or your ability to place a specific business challenge into a much larger context in order to highlight the full range of its implications. Or perhaps your insights into working with business partners in other countries. The possibilities are endless, so don’t sell yourself short before you even introduce yourself.


This course also differentiates between online networking and in-person networking. While both are critical to your overall efforts, they are very different undertakings with different nuances. Learning the rules of effective small talk, for example, is sure to come in handy the next time you have an opportunity to make a connection face-to-face. At the same time, after completing this course, you’ll be able to complement those in-person skills with a deeper understanding of how online networking can benefit your business and how to best get started in that realm.


Divided into six sessions, Improve Your Personal Networking Skills will teach you to develop interpersonal skills with a proven ability to attract new prospects, how to use the most effective expressions, strategies for networking on behalf of your entire business, start conversations in the way that draws the right connections to you and how networking can help you attract top performers when you’re in hiring mode.


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the last lesson in the course will teach you how to avoid the pitfalls of networking. As is the case with dating, there are many of them, but unlike dating, if you know what the common networking no-nos are, they’re easily avoidable.


To register and to learn about other course offerings, please visit HP’s Learning Center. Registration is quick, easy and free.

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