Improve Social Skills

Improve social skills

Improve social skills

8 Effective Ways to Improve Social Skills & Build Better Connections

Good social skills are integral to building strong and meaningful connections. Even with the world being what it is in 2020 when industry conferences and networking events are off the table, any encounter you have with someone, be it over a casual coffee, zoom meeting or phone call is an opportunity to network. Social skills are important to the process because they not only allow us to be better understood, but also better understand others. Whilst this ability comes naturally to some, many of us can find it difficult. So what are the things you can do to upgrade your interpersonal skills? In this article we’ll take you through 8 effective ways to improve your improve social skills so you can make better connections both in the new normal and beyond.


This is one of the simplest ways to make yourself instantly more approachable. A good smile brings with it a friendly and amiable disposition, not just in your appearance but also your tone of voice. It’s important to remember that people can “hear” your smile just as much as they can see it, so don’t forget to bring out those pearly whites even if you’re only talking on the phone.

Concentrate on Giving

A wise man once said, “think of giving not as a duty, but as a privilege.” Now that was perhaps a lot easier for this man to say considering he was a Rockefeller, but the message still stands. Coming into a conversation thinking, “one for me, one for you, one for me, one for you – oh, none for me? Okay, none for you,” is not the kind of mindset that builds strong relationships. Nobody wants to network with those focused on their own needs, or at least stingy with what they are willing to give. Of course it’s okay to be open about your own needs, but don’t do it at the expense of another person.

If you’re connecting with someone new, focus on giving something, like offering to connect them with somebody they want to talk to or help them in some way. When you do that, you show how you don’t just have your own interests at heart, but are looking to create meaningful ties.

A practical way of finding what you could give is by speaking in terms of the other person’s interests rather than your own. Pinpoint their desires and goals, and you’ll soon discover their various wants and needs.

Balance your conversations

Conversations, whether be it in person or Zoom are much like a tennis game. The conversation is the ball, and it’s much more fun when you’ve got a decent rally going. Sometimes the ball is in their court, sometimes it’s in yours, and the best conversations go back and forth. The more you can switch it to and fro, the less likely you are to bore out the conversation.

No one wants to be in a situation where they are listening to someone drone on and on about their business and never get the chance to talk themselves. Keep the conversation balanced, and focus on the flow. Some questions, some answers, but never question after question, or a small Shakespeare-esque monologue.

A good method of keeping the back and forth going is by asking open-ended questions. Asking about life-experiences, family, and personal aspirations for the future never fail to generate a steady (and interesting) flow of conversation.

Be Complimentary

An easyway to strike up a conversation is to begin with a compliment. It doesn’t need to be gushing praise or high tribute, but even something casual like commenting on their outfit or zoom background will break the ice, bring a smile to their face, and make them feel immediately more comfortable in your presence.

Work to Build Relationships

Relationships don’t just happen with a first impression. You get out what you put in, and there’s more to making a solid connection than that one time you both met.

There’s no question that building a relationship is a hundred times easier in person than it is over cyber-space or on the phone, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. Living in a world of social distancing doesn’t mean we need to be socially distant. Reach out, follow up, and check in with your network by dropping the occasional email, putting a Zoom catch-up in the diary, or engaging with them on posts they’ve made on social media such as LinkedIn – even a quick “Like” registers well.

As we mentioned earlier, people don’t want to feel alone in times like these and the worst you’ll get is an email left unanswered – at which point you’ll also get a better idea of whether they want to connect or not. Which brings us neatly to our next point.

Quality over Quantity

One home run is much better than two doubles – or if you don’t speak baseball, it’s better to have one great swing rather than two average ones. You will get far greater value from investing in five quality connections than spreading yourself thinly across fifty. In this way, you can develop connections with more substance and less superficiality, and with that real sincerity and authenticity, people will grow to like you and trust you more.

Use Social Media Wisely

It can be tempting to see social media as the best environment for networking, and to a certain extent it is: LinkedIn and Twitter are certainly good places to network by engaging with certain people and their posts, especially if you can keep establish yourself as an authority in a subject and display for others to see and potentially reach out to you. However, social media can never be a replacement for direct exchanges, so see it as a compliment to more personal communication rather than a substitute, and continue to reach out as if it didn’t exist.

Don’t hear, listen

There’s a difference between listening and hearing: hearing is a pretty passive exercise where information tends to flow uninterrupted through one orifice and quickly out the other. Listening however is a direct action, where you actively take in what’s being said, and can respond in a way that shows you’re engaged and interested.

Your physical stance can help you listen and show that you are listening. Start with aiming to project a positive body language: place your hands by your sides, rather than keeping them crossed, or stand with your hands on your hips to display a posture of openness. Equally important is to maintain the appropriate level of eye contact. For speaking this is around 50% of the time, but when listening, this is should be at least 70%. Doing so demonstrates interest in the other person and what they have to say, whilst also displaying confidence.


The world as we know it might not be going back to where it used to be anytime soon, but your ticket to building strong networks is to improve social skills. Reaching heights of in-depth and truly valuable connections might take time, but nothing worth doing ever came quickly. The mountain might be steep, but the highest peaks always have the best views.

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