Networking Exercises: Sharpen Your Networking Skills

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to level up your networking game? What are some good networking exercises you can practice?

Networking skills are necessary to build and maintain professional relationships with influential contacts who can help you advance in your career path or business journey. The following networking exercises will help you channel your networking efforts in a systematic and goal-oriented way.

Here are some networking exercises to help you sharpen your networking skills.

Networking Exercises: Sharpen Your Networking Skills

If you are new to networking, the idea of going to events and talking to total strangers can feel daunting. Many of us aren’t sure where to start, who to network with, and what to say when we connect with someone. Here are some networking exercises to help you clarify your networking goals and identify people to network with.

Exercise: Create a Relationship Action Plan

Making a relationship action plan will help you to identify the people who you should network with to achieve your professional goals.

Write down your long-term professional goal: something that you want to achieve within the next three years. (Remember that your goal should be challenging yet achievable, and as specific as possible. Likewise, the best goals take into account both your passions and your skills.)

Write down at least one medium-term goal that will help you to achieve your long-term goal. These should be goals that you can achieve within one year.

Write down at least one short-term goal that will help you to achieve each medium-term goal. These should be goals that you can achieve within three months.

Next to all of your goals, write down who you think you’ll need to network with to achieve them. (For example, if your goal is to gain a certain qualification, write down the admissions managers at colleges that offer it.)

Exercise: Identify Networking Targets

In addition to people who can help you achieve your goals, network with mentors, super-connectors, and prominent people. Identify people in each of these groups who you’d like to network with. 

List one or two people who you believe could mentor you. Why have you chosen these people? What could you offer them in return for their guidance?

Now, list one or two “super-connectors” you’d like to network with (or get closer to). Why have you chosen these people? What could you offer them in return for access to their network? (Remember: Super-connectors are people who have large professional networks. They usually work in industries such as politics, recruitment, and the media.)

Finally, list one or two prominent people in your industry (for example, CEOs or famous entrepreneurs) who you’d like to network with. Why have you chosen these people? What could you offer them in return for their wisdom and connections? 

Look back at all of the mentors, super-connectors, and prominent people you’ve listed. Which of these professionals do you want to network with first? Why?

Networking Exercises: Sharpen Your Networking Skills

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  • How to build and maintain a successful professional network
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  • Why you have to put in work to keep your network relationships strong

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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