Knowing your networking style is the “secret sauce” of networking— that little extra “something ” that makes you a networking pro. Many people are familiar with the DiSC® behavioral model. (If you’re not, click here for an overview.) There are several versions of the DiSC concept; I prefer the John Wiley & Son’s model: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. 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: I am an authorized independent partner for John Wiley & Sons. DiSC® is a registered trademark of John Wiley & Sons and is used with permission.]
The Dominant networking style values results, speaks, thinks and acts quickly. A person with this very direct style may seem impatient or “pushy.”
The Influential networking style values making connections; this person is lively and outgoing. To others, however, this style may seem scattered.
The Steady networking style values sincerity and steadiness. These networkers are steadfast in their approach, and may seem slow to accept others who move more quickly.
The Conscientious 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 they 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.