Communication Skills and Networking

Today is Thursday, so this post is on communication skills.

As you know, there are three very important communication skills that are absolutely necessary for career and life success: conversation skills, writing skills and presentation skills.

Networking is one of the most important places where your conversation skills come into play.  People who are good at networking are also good at finding good jobs and becoming career and life successes. 

Recently, I found a book called How To Be a Master Networker by James Malinchak and Joe Martin.  The book is small, to the point — and filled with some great common sense advice.  I particularly liked pages 15 through 86, where James and Joe present their 7 Secrets for Getting What You Want Through Who You Know.

7 Secrets for Getting What You Want Through Who You Know

  1. Make networking a top priority.
  2. Take the initiative to meet new people.
  3. Focus on building rapport by serving others.
  4. Make people feel good about themselves.
  5. Position yourself to be remembered.
  6. Never end a conversation without getting contact information.
  7. Make sure to stay in touch.

These are some great ideas for networking.  I particularly like number 4 – “Make people feel good about themselves.”  To me, this is the single best piece of advice I give people when I help them develop their conversation skills.

Here is the advice I give leaders in my book Solving Performance Problems.

Help People Feel Good About Themselves

Self esteem and high performance are directly related.  No one can do a consistently good job if they don’t like and feel good about themselves.  To be successful as a leader, you have to build up, not tear down, your people’s self esteem.

When I was a young guy in one of my first jobs, I had a boss whose favorite saying was “I’m going to give you the opportunity to fail”.  He trotted out this statement anytime he disagreed with a proposal I, or any of my colleagues, were making.  I always thought of this as “Pontius Pilate Leadership”.  He would let me go ahead with my idea, but he made it very clear that if things didn’t work out, he had washed his hands of me the whole thing. 

I was left feeling two ways whenever this happened.  First, I knew I was on my own, that I wasn’t going to get any help from him, if things didn’t go well.  Second, I questioned myself and my judgment.  After all, he was my boss, and if he didn’t like my idea, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

The interesting thing here is that by changing one word, my boss could have sent a completely different message.  If he had only said, “I’m going to give you the opportunity to succeed”, I would have felt that I could count on him for help if I ran into a problem or got in over my head.  Second, I would have felt pretty good about myself. 

Think about it.  When your manager tells you to go ahead with one of your ideas, how do you feel?  I bet you feel pretty good about both the project and yourself.  You start the project with a sense of excitement that can carry you through some of the difficult times you might encounter along the way. 

The great thing about self esteem is that there is more than enough of it to go around.  When you help someone else feel better about himself or herself, you end up feeling better about yourself. 

The old story about the candle is true here.  If you have a lighted candle, and use its flame to light someone else’s candle, your candle still burns as bright as it did before you gave away some of its light, and the other person’s glows brighter.  If you light several candles, you will have a very bright place.  Helping people feel good about themselves is like lighting a candle.  You feel at least as good about yourself as you did before – probably better – and the people you helped are in a better position to succeed and to help others. 

Remember this candle story the next time you meet someone – at a networking event, or anywhere for that matter.  Help him or her feel good about himself or herself, and you will be on the way to building a strong relationship.  Do it.  It’s only common sense!

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website to subscribe to my monthly ezine and for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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