7 Leadership Networking Rules (With Types of Networking)

Updated November 20, 2022

Leadership networking enables you to build relationships that can help an organization. Through this type of networking, you can connect with people outside your industry personally or professionally. Understanding the rules for leadership networking can help you access insights, feedback information, and resources to assist an organization. In this article, we list seven leadership networking rules, explain common networking types, and discuss the ways you can improve leadership networking.

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7 leadership networking rules

Leadership networking rules provide you with guidelines on how to create alliances to help meet an organization's goals. Here are seven helpful rules for leadership networking:

1. Communicate effectively

It's important to communicate effectively to ensure others understand your needs. Good communication allows you to make offers, create awareness of assets, and maintain engagement. It also helps you communicate information clearly and concisely. Strong communication helps you avoid misunderstandings among partners or clients, which contributes to an organization's success. When speaking with potential connections, make them the topic of conversation. This shows genuine interest in how they perform business and makes a good first impression.

It's also helpful to plan your responses before networking. This may involve considering your words, facial expressions, tone, pitch, listening skills, and body language. A good balance can assist you in understanding others' thoughts and articulating an appropriate reply.

Related: 7 Essential Channels of Communication in the Workplace

2. Be sincere

As leadership networking involves sharing information, sincerity can allow you to make valuable connections. Share your true intentions to give others an accurate impression of your personality. Rather than focusing on what a connection can offer you, consider offering value. You may contribute your expertise by collaborating with them on an ongoing project.

You can also invite them to an informal event to connect more personally. This shows that your desire to build connections is genuine. Sincerity can lead to having a positive reputation in your industry.

Related: 10 Networking Basics (Definitions and Why They're Important)

3. Use your negotiation skills

Leadership networking requires negotiation skills. This ability can help you resolve differences in opinions and persuade others. Effective negotiators know when to share information, exchange resources, and trade ideas to achieve a goal. They know when to be persistent or retain information. It's important to know what to ask for and the right time to make requests.

4. Share resources

Networking is often about sharing resources and services to help others achieve their goals. When engaging with prospective connections, identify opportunities to help build their business. Know the assets or resources you can offer and share them appropriately. Exchanging information is essential for leadership networking, as it can help you gain new insights.

You can share resources in multiple ways, including organizing a niche networking event or connecting with peers. When organizing a niche event, send a personalized invitation to inform attendees about what to expect. Through an event, you can meet more people because acquaintances in your industry may introduce you to other leaders.

5. Set clear expectations

It's helpful to set clear expectations when forging connections. This can help you build meaningful connections with contacts who have the resources you need. Having shared interests or goals can be beneficial for growing your network and advancing career. If you meet people who you wish to maintain contact with, retain the relationship by arranging a follow-up meeting.

6. Learn effective conflict resolution

Knowing how to manage conflict effectively can help you resolve disagreements that may occur while networking. Empathy, assertiveness, and active listening can assist you in managing conflicts. If a conflict occurs, assess the situation and discuss areas of mutual agreement. Gently express your viewpoint if you believe it can help resolve the issue. Being mindful of your facial expressions and tone can help you to share your thoughts calmly.

Related: A Guide to Conflict Resolution Training (Benefits and Types)

7. Use power thoughtfully

Power is the ability to influence the behaviour of others to achieve a goal. Leadership networking usually requires having the power to build your network through reputation, position, and alliance. Determine your strengths so that others can benefit from them. For instance, if you have effective persuasion skills, remain accessible to people who require help to negotiate and establish relationships. Strive to become a leader who can get results and has connections with key industry decision makers.

Related: What Is Leadership Power? (And Types of Leadership Power)

Types of leadership networking

There are several forms of networking you can learn to advance your career, including:

Personal networking

Personal networks comprise people you share interests with outside of your workplace. You may find these connections in clubs and professional associations. They can improve your personal development and assist with career advancement. Personal networks can provide referrals, information, and mentoring opportunities. This networking type can give you access to contacts that have specialized expert knowledge.

Related: 9 Important Networking Questions and Sample Answers

Operational networking

An operational network typically includes people that can help you fulfill your current responsibilities at work. These connections can be supervisors, direct reports, or cross-departmental peers. For instance, a sales executive may establish a strong relationship with a marketing manager to help develop advertisements that engage a market segment. This type of networking aims to build cooperation and coordination among individuals who work closely.

Related: What Is Professional Networking? and How to Master It

Strategic networking

Strategic networking connects you with people who can help you achieve your workplace's strategic goals. These relationships typically have business objectives, allowing you to sell ideas, compete for resources, and build relationships to explore new business possibilities. For instance, you may network to build meaningful relationships with suppliers of raw materials at a discount price.

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Ways to improve your leadership networking skills

Here are helpful ways to improve your leadership networking skills and strengthen your connections:

Use professional associations, events, and conferences

Look for opportunities to interact with other professionals in your industry when building an extensive network. For instance, you may belong to a professional association that regularly hosts luncheons to encourage members to connect with each other. Trade fairs, workshops, and industry conferences are also effective ways to meet new people. Consider engaging in roundtable discussions and speaking on issues that arise when attending events. This can help others perceive you as a valuable professional.

Related: 11 Types of Networking Events to Attend for Professional Growth

Create connections with colleagues

It's a good idea to participate in departmental meetings to show interest in your colleagues' work. You may also engage in personal discussions during recess to know them better and personally. Consider offering your expertise to a colleague when they need help to fulfill their duties. Contacting a mentor who formerly occupied your current position can also help you make and gain more connections.

Related: How to Write a Thank You Message for Colleagues in 6 Steps

Participate in development programs

You can improve your networking skills by participating in leadership development programs. These programs aim to develop your abilities so you can excel personally and professionally. They can also help you understand your leadership style. The curriculum may include:

  • learning how to research events, set networking goals, and identify meaningful connections

  • recognizing how social media platforms can aid networking

  • studying the characteristics of a successful networker

  • learning how to collect business cards

  • understanding how to define contacts

  • learning how to approach individuals and confidently start a conversation

  • learning how to prepare for a networking event physically and emotionally

Related: Guide: How to Create a Leadership Development Program

Become a mentor

Being a mentor can help you develop relationships with people who may work for other companies in the future. This can create an extensive network of ambassadors representing different brands. As a mentor, your experience and success can assist in a mentee's professional development. Building a mentor-mentee relationship can be rewarding, as you contribute to your mentee's improved performance. You can also interact with more professionals willing to learn from you and share resources.

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