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The Art of Charisma-From Networking to ConnectingThe Art of Charisma-From Networking to Connecting

By Julia HubbelBy Julia Hubbel

In an era of greater diversity and global connectivity, the old style of networking has changed. Gone are the days of networking just for our own purposes, with an eye towards getting something just for ourselves. Years ago, back in the eighties, the books that were written about networking tended to be written by white males with a highly transactional networking style based on a “What’s in it for me” attitude, a sales focus, and a hierarchical approach to exchanging business cards and the emphasis on the deal. These days with a global workplace, with women and people of color part of our workforce in every country, the relational style of networking is quickly becoming the norm.

The relational style of networking is focused on creating the connection first, establishing what two people have in common as people before the business is conducted. Women and many people of color prefer to make this kind of connection, asking personal questions to establish a basis for the relationship, trust and commonality before moving into a business discussion, sometimes taking months or even years, in the case of Asian countries. Americans can sometimes get frustrated with the time lines involved with developing business relationships with Asian countries but the benefits are well worth the patience.

But there is something well beyond just the difference between transactional, deal-centered and relational, connection-centered networking, and that is how we leave people feeling when we are done talking with them. This transcends the nature of our interactions entirely, and has to do with our personal charisma.

It’s not enough to be smart. It’s not enough to have a great product. Those are the tickets to entry. Today you also have to have an additional edge: and that’s charisma.

Many people feel that charisma is a gift; you are either born with it or you’re not. It’s true, that some people are born with a certain amount of personal charisma. But it can be learned.

Charisma, in part, is based on one’s attitude about abundance. People who have charisma are deeply generous with their time, attention, compliments, support and acknowledgement of others. They leave others feeling good about themselves, positive and happy. They leave a legacy of value. Others want to be around them, do business with them. Charismatic people, truly charismatic people, don’t turn it off and on depending on whether the lights are on them, like politicians or Hollywood stars. They are charismatic consistently, with everyone, all the time.

In networking, charismatic people have time for others. They leave people feeling good about themselves, about the interaction. They are quick to find good in others and to compliment it. They have time to mentor, to coach, to provide valuable advice, to offer something valuable, to offer help, and to be of service to those they meet. In every exchange, they seek to leave people feeling larger about themselves.

Charismatic people don’t overwhelm others, they support them. In the context of networking, they are superb listeners. They concentrate on what others are saying; they close off the rest of the world and focus on their conversational partner completely. They make the other person feel heard and attended to. They reflect and respond and admire, and as a result, others feel valued and powerful in their presence.

In addition, charismatic people are givers. They try to leave people with a gift, usually the gift of themselves as better people. They reflect what is good about someone else back to them. They ask excellent questions and guide people to talk about their great passions so that people have a chance to bask in what they most love to talk about for a while. That is a gift to anyone who has to talk about mundane things all too often, and their passions lie elsewhere. Charismatic people know this, and help others find what they love and talk about it.

Finally, truly charismatic people understand that having power is giving it away. Helping others feeling powerful is a powerful act. By making others feel good about themselves, they feel powerful as well.

In today’s global world of relationships, charisma counts. People can build their charisma by learning to listen with the intent to be of service first, not being all about themselves and selling what their product or service is. By understanding that in time, they will make their sale to the right person by earning the right to the relationship first, they will have learned the secret. Everything evolves from developing the connection, from earning the respect and regard of the people we meet first. Business comes as a natural result of how we have treated them from that first contact.


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