Networking Skill: Listening – Actions Part 2

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 !

Jan

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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