Networking Skill: Listening – Actions Part 2

December 30, 2010

Last week I already shared some tips about what actions you can take when you really want to listen.

This week I offer you some more tips:

  • Look at the person you are listening to, don’t look at the people behind or next to him.
  • Avoid drawing your own conclusions. Always check them by saying “Am I correct in assuming that….”
  • Create a positive listening environment.
    • Ensure you get distracted as little as possible (by rumour of your colleagues or noise from the street).
    • Create an “empty space” between you and the other (step from behind your desk for example).
  • Let others tell you their own story first. When others explain their situations, they may reveal interesting facts and valuable clues that will aid you in helping them solve their problems or satisfy their needs. By letting them speak first, you also save time. When their interests are revealed you can tailor the rest of your discussion to their particular needs, goals, and objectives and you can avoid an inappropriate conversation.
  • Write important things down. Especially when you are at a networking event where you are going to meet several people, it is hard to remember everything. BUT only note keywords that help you remember the whole story. Don’t try to write everything down, because when you are writing you are only hearing parts of what the other person is saying! Find your own way of dealing with this, because it’s an important, but tough issue.
  • Find the emotion behind the words (vocal and visual messages) rather than the literal meaning of the words. Ask yourself these questions when another person is speaking:
    a. What are the other person’s feelings?
    b. What does he mean by what he is saying?
    c. What is his point of view?
    d. Why is he saying this?
    e. What is implied by what he says?
  • Listen for “keywords”. These are words that you have in common with the other person. Or more importantly, the words that you can use to match two people. If I hear that somebody is a Russian-French translator and I know of someone who needs someone to translate some documents with regard to exporting to Russia, then there might be a link. So the keywords that triggered me were “Russia” and “translator”.

My golden tip:

  • Count to three after the other person stopped talking and before you begin talking yourself. Often the other person continues to talk before you reached 3 and then the “most valuable information” is disclosed. Many times this is the moment where the real story comes to the surface. So if you can control your need to tell your own stories, this will be rewarded. Even if it’s not information that is useful to you, these are the moments where the relationship is strengthened.

To your success !


PS: this is an excerpt from my book “Let’s Connect!”. You can download a free light version of the networking book Let’s Connect in English (or het netwerk boek Let’s Connect in Dutch)


Networking Skill: Listening – Actions Part 1

December 23, 2010

The last weeks I have been sharing tips about the most important skill in networking: listening (the importance of listening, intention part 1 and part 2 and body language) .

Since I have received many reactions I will share some more tips in the next couple of weeks.

One of the questions I got, was: “I understand that listening is important, but what can I exactly DO?”

I have a lot of tips about that. In order not to overwhelm you with them I have split them into two parts. Below you will find the first part. Next week I will post the second part.

Listening Actions:

  • Give your full attention to what is said. Don’t let your thoughts wander off and don’t try to think about what you are going to say next.
  • Encourage the other person to tell you his story. Feel free to say: “Go on!”
  • Don’t interrupt the other person.
  • Listen to what is NOT being said. Pay attention to the body language of the other person. Find out if there is a “hidden question” in a story. A question that you can give an answer to.
  • React considerately and consciously instead of impulsively.
  • Have the other person talk more than you do yourself! Research has revealed that when we feel really good about a conversation we just had, we were talking 80% of the time or more. So if you want to be perceived as someone who is pleasant company, you don’t have to tell stories and jokes all the time. Just listen and let the other person talk most of the time!
  • Ask open questions: these are questions that begin with words like what, how, when, where,… Avoid closed questions that can be answered with yes or no. Asking open questions is the way to avoid this kind of conversation: “Hello, nice to meet you. Is this the first time you’re here?” “Yes” “Do you like it here?” “Yes” “Did you have troubles with traffic?” “No” and you can go on without making progress. Instead you could have asked: “Hello, nice to meet you. How many times have you already attended this event?” “This is the first time.” “What do you think thus far?” “The people are really nice and the speaker seems to be interesting.” And now you have two ways to go on: “Apparently you already met some people. Who did you meet?” or “What about the topic of the speaker appeals the most to you?” And then chances are that you have a very pleasant conversation.

Next week: more listening actions.

To your success !


PS: this is an excerpt from my book “Let’s Connect!”. You can download a free light version of the networking book Let’s Connect in English (or het netwerk boek Let’s Connect in Dutch)

The Power of Classmates

December 16, 2010

I have been noticing something very interesting the last couple of months: we get more and more requests to give training courses and presentations from people I went to university with.

It seems like they have moved up on corporate ladders and are now in the position to make decisions about purchasing products or hiring services.

What can we learn from this?

1) Sometimes it takes time for things to happen. People you meet now in your life, will maybe only have an influence in 10 to 20 years. So be patient and keep in touch. If you don’t have their contact details anymore, look them up on LinkedIn or let LinkedIn do the work for you (via Contacts/Add Connections/Classmates).

2) For people who are currently studying at a college or university: get to know each other. Work with different people on projects. By going through experiences together, you create bonds that last long. Make sure you will be able to do that by already linking with each other on LinkedIn.

3) For colleges and universities: keep focusing on alumni programs. Facilitate meetings for people who graduated the same year. People love this kind of events, but nobody takes the initiative to organize them. Make sure you facilitate this on LinkedIn as well by setting up a LinkedIn Group and creating LinkedIn Events.

4) For organisations and companies: give more attention to alumni programs. Your former employees can be your best ambassadors. But only IF you make them feel they are still part of the family. The same tip here: make sure you facilitate this on LinkedIn by setting up a LinkedIn Group and creating LinkedIn Events.

To your success !


PS: get your free light version and free updates of the book How to REALLY use LinkedIn (or in Dutch: het boek Hoe LinkedIn nu ECHT gebruiken)

Winners Overnight Stay

December 9, 2010

We got overloaded with reactions of people telling us how LinkedIn worked for them. More than 149 people send us their experiences.

We read great stories and are looking into ways how we can share them so you can be inspired by them as well. So come back to this blog to read about them.

In the meanwhile: these are the 5 people who win an overnight stay:
– Madeleine Heynens
– Jasmijn van den Borne
– Monique Sulmann
– Walter Slotboom
– Martin Borsboom

Together with the Networking Coach team I wish you lots of fun !


HootSuite Makes Your Professional and Social Networking Life Easier

December 9, 2010

I have been using HootSuite already for a while, but have never written anything about it.

That’s too bad, since many people could benefit from it. Shame on me to keep this gem a secret 🙂

Why is it a gem?

HootSuite doesn’t only let you monitor your Twitter streams (like Tweetdeck), track clicks, monitor mentions, but also allows posting to different websites at once. It is very flexible: you can choose on the spot which websites to post to and which not.

Why is this handy? Some things you want to share with your personal network, but not with your professional network. Some people have automated links between their Twitter account and their LinkedIn account leading to people who block them since they are not interested in the personal problems of their LinkedIn contacts.

With HootSuite you can easily tackle this problem: for each message you click on the icons of the websites you want it to appear and that’s it.

This saves me a lot of time. And I hope you too!


PS: get your free light version and free updates of the book How to REALLY use LinkedIn (or in Dutch: het boek Hoe LinkedIn nu ECHT gebruiken) with many more tools that can save you time.

Networking Skill: Listening – Body Language

December 2, 2010

Over the last couple of weeks I have been sharing some tips about the importance of listening.

I focused on the intention behind listening because that’s where it all starts (read the tips about listening with intention part 1 and part 2).

Now let’s talk about another aspect of listening: body language.

These are my tips for you:

Turn your body to the other person. This shows respect and interest in the other person. You “open the door” and invite him to talk freely.
Have an open posture. The most important is that you are aware that an open and relaxed posture invites people to talk and enables you to pay closer attention. In many courses you learn not to cross your legs or arms when listening to someone. This is a sign that you are not open to the other person. You can use this as a control mechanism: crossing your arms or legs could be a good signal for you to check whether you are still giving your full attention to the other person.
Make eye contact frequently. But don’t exaggerate. How would you feel if somebody is staring at you the whole time? Or the opposite: a person who doesn’t look you in the eye, doesn’t come across as a self-confident person. Or seems to hide something. In any case, this is not someone you eagerly want to include in your network. Don’t exclude yourself from other people’s networks.
Have a friendly, but rather neutral facial expression that radiates being open and unprejudiced.
Nod. This doesn’t mean that you nod to agree, but to show that you’re listening to what the other person is talking about.
Be calm. Don’t fidget, don’t play with things in your hands. Playing with a pen or tapping with your foot against the table is an annoying distraction.
Put the other person at ease. Allow her space and time and give “permission” to speak. Our posture, our expression it all makes a huge difference. Relax, and let her relax as well.

My golden tip:
Smile. If this seems to be too obvious for you, ask the people around you if they see you smile a lot. Most probably the answer will be “no”. You don’t have to be laughing loud all the time. A gentle smile will do.

Suggestion: look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Make some variations and see what you like best. Then do it everywhere. Smile consciously at people in the bus, at work, in the supermarket. And smile at all your networking contacts. If you think this assignment is too easy for you because you already do it a lot, you should be enjoying it even more!

To your success !


PS: this is an excerpt from my book “Let’s Connect!”. You can download a free light version of the networking book Let’s Connect in English (or het netwerk boek Let’s Connect in Dutch)

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