by Heather White

Soft skills

To be an elegant and successful networker, you need to be very proficient on two fronts: highly developed soft skills and a strategic perspective. You need a strategic perspective because that will save you a huge amount of time (see How to get started – do this bit first).

Soft skills is the other set of skills. First let me list the soft skills you need to be able to network proficiently. What I want you to do is score yourself on how well you think you do on each front. (Click here for a pdf version.) But let me flag this up straight away: there is nothing new here; every skill listed is a skill you need to do your job very well. For fear of repeating myself in each section you read on this subject, networking is not the end itself, but the means to get to the end: in other words, your career, intelligence, new business and so on.

Before you assess yourself, let me also point out that you should not take each of the following statements to extremes, as the overriding skill is to act appropriately, basing your behaviour on your observation of the situation you find yourself in.

Soft skill Self rating - between 1 (low) and 10 (high)
I am trustworthy.  
I am respectable and respected.  
I am an active listener.  
I am a good conversationalist.  
I am an influencer.  
I am confident.  
I am a negotiator.  
I am a problem solver.  
I am a risk taker.  
I’m willing to engage.  
I’m willing to share.  
I can read others and respond accordingly.  
I am a good observer.  
I am good at including others.  
I can keep confidences.  
I can make appropriate disclosures.  

Your task is an easy one. Where you have scored yourself low, you now know what you have to work on to become elegant at networking. If you have rated yourself highly, go and test this out with your contacts to make sure you are reading the situation correctly. If everything stacks up, do more of what is working.