By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D
Founding Editor, bSci21.org
Entrepreneur.com recently published a few tips to improve your networking skills. From a behavioral perspective, networking is important because it is a skill that, if done right, can act as an “operant multiplier” in that the effects of our behavior and the stimuli which occasion our behavior can expand exponentially through social contacts.
We will review some of the tips below, but translated into the language of Applied Behavior Analysis. Some tips were left off of this list, but you can read them in the original article hyperlinked above!
1) Networking Minus “Working.” A key component of networking behavior is authenticity. To behave authentically means to have a genuine interest in the person you are talking to. In other words, you aren’t just “putting on a front” simply to get a lead. When you network, approach the interaction in much the same way you would a friendship. This behavior is more likely to be reciprocated later.
2) Know what you want. Understanding your short- and long-term career goals can help direct your networking. Think about your ideal career and how to get there. Can you get there in five years? If so, make smaller goals to achieve along the way. You now have a fairly clear roadmap to help you decide who you should be rubbing elbows with in the immediate future. Make your goals small enough that you can realistically achieve them and contact positive reinforcement for doing so. If your goals are too distant, you may lose motivation.
3) Articulate how to get what you want. Take the goals you laid out above and explicitly connect them to people you should meet to help you achieve them. Entrepeneur recommends listing three people for each goal. What these people say can function as motivating operations to keep you going. They can also serve as wellsprings of information that can allow you to acquire new skills, or greater influence, along your journey.
4) Connect with the person. Remember, you aren’t putting on a show here, you are being authentic. That means asking insightful questions that really stimulate the other person and get them talking. Another part of being authentic is paying attention. Really listen to what he/she is saying to you and offer an insightful followup. And, please, leave your phone in your pocket.
Do you have any other networking tips to share? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!
Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns bSci21.org and BAQuarterly.com. Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues. He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas. Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.