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Networking and Emotional Intelligence


Expert analysis from Caitlín O’Connor, Founder and Director at Accelerating Performance.

Being a great networker is a critical competency for successful leaders.

However, while a person with a high I.Q. can write a great business plan, only those with high emotional intelligence or E.Q. (emotional quotient) can successfully action that plan.  E.Q. can galvanise you and enable you to maximise potential, ensuring you take advantage of networking opportunities to develop new prospects.

Successful CEO’s are likely to shine in emotional intelligence.  They should demonstrate integrity, people acumen, assertiveness, and trust-building behaviour. They tend to be expert communicators. Networking and emotional intelligence are closely entwined. One is required to be superb in the other. Leaders with excellent networking skills reap the rewards, obtaining a measurable return on their time.

Networking is not always about getting leads. It can also be about collaboration, working with stakeholders or obtaining valuable information.

We can continuously improve our E.Q. by perfecting our networking ability. The good news is that in our experience, emotional intelligence can be improved in 100 days. Networking is personal marketing - a science - and therefore can be learned.

If you want to improve your networking and emotional intelligence, some points to consider:

Intra Personal Realm  or “communication with self”, including self-regard, self-awareness, assertiveness, independence and self-actualisation. These competencies are required to be an effective networker.

  • With high self-regard, we can read situations correctly. We can identify whether a prospect is interested in our products.
  • With self-esteem, we are more confident and can network the room with ease. Combined with assertiveness, this helps us to communicate effectively and expand conversations.
  • Independent people are self-reliant in making decisions. However, overly independent people become isolated or controlling. Therefore a balance is required to be a good networker and independence is closely correlated to flexibility. We must be independent but not controlling.
  • Intra personal competencies create a zest, important in networking which is linked closely to optimism. Let’s face it, very few of us want to do business with a discontent!

The Inter Personal Realm focuses on communication with others. This includes interpersonal relationships, social responsibility and empathy.

  • In networking, these competencies mean being a strong communicator, creating personal competitive advantages allied with being empathetic, being a good listener and creating collaboration opportunities. No man is an island. 
  • “Givers Gain” is a widely acknowledged philosophy in networking circles, based on reciprocity. These networkers are people-focussed, dedicated to helping build business for others, leading to greater returns and engagement.

Stress can be greatly increased by networking, halting progress and potential. Emotional Intelligence can teach us how to navigate through this.

Adaptability concerns ability to be flexible and realistic, solving challenges as they arise. This means networkers can grasp potential clients’ challenges and recommend effective solutions.

  • Core ingredients include reality testing, flexibility and problem-solving. Technology is changing. Attitudes are changing. We must adapt to change. Reality testing is our ability to view things the way they are rather than the way we want them to be. 
  • Flexibility is a cornerstone of networking and our ability to solve individual challenges. With flexibility, we adjust emotions, thoughts and behaviours to changing situations in an unpredictable set of situations. With flexibility, we are agile and capable of reacting to change.

General Mood is a combination of optimism and happiness. Optimism refers to the long-term and happiness in the here and now. People wish to engage and are attracted to positive people with an upbeat disposition. First impressions count! 

  • Happy people are approachable to other networkers. They tend to attract connections and generally give more referrals. The law of reciprocity says the more we give the more we receive.
  • Optimism is considered as the most critical area of success and drives higher performance when developed.

Caitlín O’Connor is the Founder and Director at Accelerating Performance - a company focused on business scaling, networking and executive coaching.  Caitlín can be contacted via email at info@acceleratingperformance.ie or on LinkedIn.

The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of Directors in Ireland. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. The content of this blog is for information purposes only and the Institute of Directors in Ireland is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied.