Emotional Intelligence, also known as Emotional Quotient or EQ, is all the buzz right now. EQ is the ability we have to use, communicate, recognize, remember, learn from and manage our relationships with other people. It is, in effect, the skills we've developed for building our social capital with those we wish to network with.
Some people just seem to have a knack for interacting or networking with other people. They have a high EQ. On the other hand, for some people networking is a very uncomfortable process. The higher one's EQ, the more natural it seems for an individual to network. I believe that EQ can be developed, whereas IQ is generally static and not easily improved. This means that you can actually improve your EQ by understanding and applying some important concepts to your networking practices.
So, just what are some of the areas where EQ has an impact on networking skills?
1. Developing a networking style or system that sets you apart from the ordinary businessperson: Networking is so much more than just being involved in the usual meet-n-greet routine. Developing a style of networking that's deliberate, habitual and finely developed can be considered developing your EQ in networking. This can be done by reading books and other articles about word-of-mouth marketing and learning techniques that have been successful for others. Applying these tips and techniques takes conscious practice and application before they become habits. The highly skilled networker can be like poetry in motion. You aren't quite sure what just happened, but suddenly you're being pointed in the right direction for a meeting with someone else who can open doors for you--and you aren't even consciously aware that you expressed a need for this introduction! You've just been caught up in the flow of a high-EQ networker.
2. Networking appropriately (honoring the event): Becoming a networker who's sensitive to the event is an important aspect of developing one's networking EQ. So many businesspeople who are trying to build their social capital do so with an almost vulture-like intensity. Believe it or not, there are times when it's not appropriate to hand out your business card or ask someone the ubiquitous "what do you do?". Being sensitive to the moment and honoring the surroundings is a nuance in networking that sets those with a high EQ apart from those with a low EQ. There are ways to alter your networking styles in various situations. Understanding how to read the event and network appropriately and effectively is another sign of a high-EQ networker.
3. Follow through: This is an area where the high-EQ networker really stands out from the crowd. If we're all honest with ourselves, follow-through is not our favorite thing, but it's something that needs a lot of finesse and demands diligence. What an enterprising networker will do is follow through in ways that surprise and intrigue the other businesspeople he or she comes in contact with. This includes things like clipping a news article about a topic that's of significance to the contact and sending it to him or her with a personal note and another business card. The main thing is that a skillful networker will never--ever--miss an opportunity to follow through after an introduction to a new business contact. Keeping your name, your business' name and your expertise in front of that person is very important and can be done in fresh and interesting ways. And it's important to follow up more than once. Create a reason for re-connecting with that contact to begin developing a relationship with him or her.
4. Maintaining customer loyalty: Many entrepreneurs focus so much on bringing in new business that they miss the boat on maintaining customer loyalty. Keeping current customers coming back and referring others to you is very, very important for business success and growth! The entrepreneur who understands this and really goes above and beyond to make current customers feel valued, appreciated and very special will find that their customers will come back again and again, and bring others with them to do business with you. There are the normal things to do to foster customer loyalty, such as sending a calendar to a client at the end of the year for the next year; then there are the outstanding things to do to foster customer loyalty, such as taking a client to lunch each week! Getting to know the clients personally and really making the effort to become friends with each person with whom you do business is an indicator of an entrepreneur with high business EQ.
Emotional Intelligence has a lot to do with setting certain business owners apart from the rest of the pack by becoming stellar networkers. It's more than just "doing the obvious." So much more. By being creative, fresh and surprising, high-EQ networkers can amass a great wealth of social capital and build a really strong and visible word-of-mouth-based business.
I've heard it said that your employees are hired because of their IQ, but promoted based on their EQ. To that I would add that a business owner might become known in the marketplace as a result of IQ, but will be referred and promoted by others because of EQ and their ability to use that to develop social capital.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.