“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”
-Bernard M. Baruch
Networking has never been more important than it is today. Developing meaningful connections with others can have a significant impact on your client base and your referral network – and ultimately the overall success of your business.
Many people don’t like networking because they think it’s uncomfortable, sometimes inauthentic, but mostly because they just aren’t that good at it.
Successful networking requires a certain finesse and the uncanny ability to balance ‘selling’ with helping and connecting individuals. For many people this seems an impossible feat.
What is your go-to move when you’re at a networking event? Are you a seller? Someone who spends most of the time talking? If you are, you’re not alone. Most of us go to networking events thinking that the only way we will get something out of it is if we talk about our product or service to as many people as possible. While that might make sense, and connecting with people is certainly a critical element of successful networking – you’re forgetting a very powerful tool: listening.
In the book Give and Take, author Adam Grant explains a very powerful principle around communication and listening. He explains that there are two types of communication taking place in every conversation – powerful communication and powerless communication. Powerful communication being speaking, and powerless communication being listening.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Wait, didn’t you just say listening was a powerful tool? Don’t I want to implement powerful communication?” Don’t worry, I’ll explain.
Most of us tend to engage in powerful communication when we are networking because we talk more than we listen. The main reasons we do this is because:
1) We truly believe in our product or service, and we believe that it can help the people we are talking to
2) We want people to use our product or service
The problem with us dominating the conversation with ‘talk’ is that it gives us all of the power. And if we have all the power in the conversation, the other person is left feeling powerless.
How do you feel when you’re powerless?
When we feel powerless, we naturally begin to feel disconnected, closed off, and maybe even scared. All things we, without a doubt, don’t want to make a prospective customer feel!
So what is the solution?
GIVE OTHER PEOPLE ALL THE POWER!
Give them the power in the conversation by letting them talk. Ask them meaningful questions and listen. And I mean, really listen. By giving others the power in the conversation, you will be helping them to feel more open, confident and validated, and ironically enough, be building their trust in you.
And you hardly said anything!
In order to get people talking to you in an open and honest way, you will have to get comfortable asking powerful questions and authentically listening to their responses.
The type of questions you ask is extremely important.
The key to starting a meaningful and powerful conversation is to ask people about who they are, not just what they do. People connect with you through their story, not yours, and often you can quickly get to the ‘what you do’ piece by asking them about who they are.
The more that person shares with you the more they will feel connected to you.
While many of us fall victim to the belief that the person who does all the talking has all the power, it’s actually the person who talks least in the conversation that has the control.
So give it a try! Next time you’re at a networking event, or even just having every day conversation, be the listener. Actively listening to what others have to say and being present can be very valuable to you. Let us know how it goes!