The secret to success is helping others succeed on their own terms. To do that, paying attention to what happens with the person in front of you is key. Because the quality of listening doesn’t depend on the tools, nor in sharing an office space, or on being on the same team, if the heart and mind are not there.
Listening is very important for finding meaning. And meaning is the key to connecting. Which is why networking is not an activity, not a verb, it’s an outcome, a noun — a network
There are different kinds of listening
- listening is so much more than monitoring — it means: (1) being in tune with what your customers want and expect; (2) playing into the need for status and gratification people have; (3) helping people reward themselves by being generous to others; (4) tying what happens online directly into the real world; (5) being able to identify and capitalize on future patterns early on
- listening is a way to collaborate and improvise effectively — people buy, join, connect on the basis of emotion, conversation is a negotiation of meaning. Perhaps the most powerful way to soothe someone’s emotions is to appreciate their concerns. There are three elements in appreciating someone. (1) You want to understand the other’s point of view; (2) find merit in what they are thinking, feeling, or doing; (3) and communicate the merit you see.
- listening is a way to know your heart — silence is indeed golden. It is when you pause, keep your own assumptions and rushing thoughts still, that you can pay attention to the finer details, in between the words in a conversation
Worry less about being noticed, and notice the people around you.
Success is the product of long term relationships of mutual benefit. Which is why it’s important to get out of card-collection and get into people-connection mode.
Relationships want activation
Being connected helps us put what we learn to good use. This is true for businesses as it is for individuals. Connections are also situational and contextual, just like influence.
Although as humans we are inherently social, there are no “best practices” in being human, only the most practice in figuring out what works for you in developing relationships.
We all struggle with time constraints, attention deficit, and (some) sleep deprivation. The easy way out of connecting is not going, or “just browsing” when in the room. Do that enough times and you won’t know what you’re missing — literally.
Here are two things I found helpful to get in the mood and out more:
1. Schedule appointments near the event location
This is the best way to win over the initial resistance to get out by putting you within reach of the event a few hours earlier. Getting to the venue early often gives you a few moments with the hosts, who may be able to make the most relevant introductions as people arrive.
If you’re not sure which organization or event will be most useful to you, try a couple over the course of a few weeks. This method allows you to discover more groups and get to know new professionals as well.
2. Plan to go with a friend
Especially if the venue is far, car pooling gives you the perfect setting to catch up with a colleague or friend on the way to the event and debrief on the way back. As long as you agree to split once you’re at your destination. That way you can each get the most out of meeting new people, which is the purpose of going.
Networking is not just something we do on behalf of ourselves. Connecting people to each other in super relevant situations is a valuable skill that will make you the “go to” person between groups. In social network theory, those people are called nodes.
Here are 30 connective things you can do at a conference to get you started.
Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.