Do You Have a Good Ear for Networking?

by Meg Guiseppi on February 10, 2011

a compliment for you...

You know how it goes sometimes at networking events . . .

You’ve barely introduced yourself to someone new and gotten through your brand positioning statement (or elevator pitch) when they jump in and ask you to help them with something- a formal introduction to someone at your company, or advice on who to connect with there, or something else.

What??? This complete stranger expects you to do them a favor already?

They’re not practicing “give to get” networking. They should be slowly and gently building relationships by giving of themselves, before asking for help.

Networking that benefits all parties is all about helping, sharing, finding common ground, and being a good listener.

Listening well is a powerful way to attract people to you and keep them there, ready and willing to help you, because:

  • Most people love to talk about themselves and to be heard with intent interest by the listener.
  • Most people are not being listened to, but crave it.
  • Most people, especially at networking events, have their own agendas and are interested only in their own needs.
  • Being listened to makes people feel valued and good about themselves.
  • Most people are in such a hurry to move on to the next shiny object that they’re bowled over by someone who slows down and takes time to listen to them.

Too many people these days are overly self-absorbed and have short attention spans. Keen listening is becoming a lost art, along with so many other basic courtesies and good manners. It’s a rare personal attribute – one that is greatly valued and can differentiate you from your peers.

People remember those who give them that boost by being truly interested in what they have to say. They are much more inclined to keep considerate good listeners top of mind when they hear of an opportunity that may be a good fit for them.

Are you a good listener in these important ways?

Do you listen for cues that will tell you how you may be able to help the speaker?

Do you keep in mind others in your network as you’re talking with people, in order to determine if they may be able to help each other?

Do you ask questions and listen to challenges facing their companies? Maybe you’re the answer to their problems. If you’re not, maybe you know someone who is.

Do you listen carefully to determine whether this is someone you want to network with further or if she/he is an energy-drainer who will take more than they’ll give? After all, it’s nearly impossible, and quite exhausting, to be a sounding board for everyone who needs your ear.

Your takeaway:

Good listeners set themselves up for reciprocity in networking. Being an intent listener may just make you more memorable than the powerful personal brand message you express when networking.

Related posts:

How to Build a Powerful Executive Network

LinkedIn Helps You Find the Right Twitter People to Follow

Stalled Executive Job Search? Get Busy on LinkedIn and Twitter

photo by Whimsy Studio

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi February 10, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Ooooooo. . . those are good ones, I mean BAD ones, Jennifer.

I should have noted in the post that being a really good listener can have its drawbacks – people tend to take advantage and you may never get a word in.

Thanks for commenting!

2 Jennifer Bulman February 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Good post Meg. As networking faults, let’s also add two other gaffes:
1. The people who *immediately* give you their cards and charge off without exchanging anything after “Hello, my name is…”
2. The people who begin to tell you how they can help you two seconds after you have itnroduced yourself.
Both are distressing common, particularly at OCRI networking events here in Ottawa.

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