How to network like a pro using human psychology

Eden Gillespie

Networking is heralded as key to business growth and befallen opportunities. If you’re lacking EQ and not much of a socialiser, it can be easy to shy away from social situations or dismiss the benefits they may have for your business.

While networking comes easy to a lot of slick and charismatic business people, introverts can find it a grinding, anxiety-filled chore.

That’s why learning basic psychology could be your weapon for avoiding awkwardness and for being able to relate to people on a human level. So here’s some tips.

Start with shared experiences

Psychologists say that common interests are what bind us. Work at finding something you share with everyone in the office, from a similar sporting team, a mutual friend, or a Netflix series you both binge-watch. That way, the conversation shouldn’t dry up due to disparity.

Look out for shared interests and ask follow-up questions. After all, science shows that similarities breed friendship. 

Smile as it rubs off on others and makes people want to be around you.


Dale Carnegie author of How To Win Friends and Influence People wasn’t a psychologist but a salesman. His book has been cited as one of the must-reads for leaders and businesspeople.

He encourages people to switch on their external gaze – in other words, to focus on how we appear to others. The brilliant salesman says his main tip is to smile as it rubs off on others and makes people want to be around you.

There’s also evidence to prove that smiling decreases stress and makes you happier. It’s a win-win, really.

Using a person’s name in conversation is said to give them a sense of validity.

Use their name in conversation

It sounds weird, but  using a person’s name in conversation, is said to give them a sense of validity.

As Carnegie puts it, “there’s no sweeter sound to another person than the sound of their name”. Use someone’s name and they’ll warm to you subconsciously just because you acknowledged them. Score!

Studies reveal that if you butter up your work friends and investors they’ll view you positively.

Give genuine compliments

According to Hubspot, “world famous psychologist B.F. Skinner proved that an animal rewarded for good behaviour will learn much faster and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behaviour.”

It’s the same with humans, studies reveal that if you butter up your work friends and investors they’ll view you positively. Compliments give people affirmation and self-assurance, meaning you’ll be remembered as thoughtful and kind.

Be wary though that you don’t say anything you don’t mean. Otherwise you put yourself at risk of appearing fake and disingenuous.

So long as you’re kind, wearing a smile, and considerate, you should be able to become boss at the networking game.

While it might be a challenge to spark up a conversation and show an interest, it’ll boost your likeability and in turn, your business’ reputation. It doesn’t cost anything to put these tools to use, so it’s worth a try at the very least.

Eden Gillespie

Eden Gillespie is a Sydney-based freelancer who writes about politics, travel, media and marketing.

Twitter: @edengillespie | | Website: