Once upon a time there was a business professional who went to lots of networking events and didn’t feel like she was getting any return for her time investment. She came to this realization one day when she was cleaning off her desk and noticed the tiny stack of business cards she’d been collecting.
She knew there had to be more to networking than collecting business cards. She asked her friend how she had become a great networker. Her friend answered simply, “Let people talk…..they will tell you almost everything you want to know about them if you listen.” She also said “don’t ask salesy questions”…”stay away from business and get to know each other…..and remember to smile! “ Her friend reminded her that people are drawn to someone who is pleasant and calm. Too much energy and enthusiasm can scare people away so just be comfortable in your own skin.
The moral of this story is the secret to great networking is the ability to listen. Let people finish their sentences and try to stay “on subject”. Your goal is to find out how you can help people. How you can be a resource to them. Help them make a contact or send them a quick IM letting them know that you enjoyed your conversation.
Keep in mind……..“There's a lot of difference between listening and hearing.”