What’s Your Networking Style?

by Jennifer Miller on October 22, 2009

in Communication, Personal Effectiveness

I recently gave a presentation on Networking Styles to members of the GRAPE organization (Grand Rapids Area Professionals for Excellence.)  Several of my colleagues indicated interest in attending, but could not, so here’s a summary, divided into three parts. Part I, “What Savvy Networkers Know”  outlines my “nuggets” gleaned from years of building a strong business network. This blog post is Part II, “What’s Your Networking Style?”.  It’s about how people’s networking “styles” vary and how to look for the clues to help you build rapport. Part III is a list of additional networking resources.

The title of this blog refers to what I call the “secret sauce” of networking— that little extra “something ” that separates the casual networker from the networking pro.  Many people are familiar with the DiSC® behavioral model. (If you’re not, click here for an overview.) During the “What’s Your Networking Style?” presentation, we explored four networking “styles” based on Inscape Publishing’s DiSC model: Direct, Expressive, Supportive and Analytical.  Being able to identify one’s preferred approach to the networking process enables a business person to identify where he naturally gravitates and where there might be potential relationship tension.

[Disclosure: SkillSource (the consultancy owned by me) is an authorized independent distributor for Inscape Publishing, Inc. DiSC® is a registered trademark of Inscape Publishing and is used with permission.]

The Direct networking style values results, speaks, thinks and acts quickly. A person with a strong Direct style may seem impatient or “pushy”.

The Expressive networking style values making connections; this person is lively and outgoing. To others, however, this style may seem scattered.

The Supportive networking style values sincerity and steadiness. Supportive networkers are steadfast in their approach. The Supportive style may seem slow to accept others who move more quickly.

The Analytical networking style values accuracy and details. When networking this person is methodical in speech patterns and decision-making. Precision is important to this style, so the Analytical networker may seem nitpicky or critical if something is too “off the cuff”.

When interacting with people try to “read” some of clues to their interpersonal style: do they speak quickly or more moderately? Do they seem lively or more reserved?  This will give you clues for how to interact.  If you sense that your styles are “opposite” don’t try to win them over by applying more emphasis on your style.  This only serves to “repel” the person, not draw him/her to you. Instead, think of modifying your approach a bit— as if you were moving yourself (communication-wise) more “towards” their style.

No doubt, you’ve seen these familiar behaviors play out, both in networking situations and in other person-to-person interactions.  The key is to recognize your preferences and to know that others may approach networking differently.  It’s not bad, just different. By  maintaining this mindset, you’ll be able to network with all styles of people to build the rapport necessary for a vibrant professional network.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara Conrad January 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm

My co-worker for 12 hour shifts was analytical to my direct expressive. I was his senior. It was just him and me for 12 hour shifts in a 24/7/365 environment. I kept a cheat sheet with analytical characteristics and how to communicate with him. Quite the learning experience.

Jennifer Miller January 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm


You are very clever to keep a cheat sheet to help improve the interaction with your co-worker. It would be interesting to know– did he see the cheat sheet and if so, how accurate did he find the suggestions?

Wishing you continued success in your interpersonal interactions!

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