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.
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.
photo by Whimsy Studio