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Building Community Through Better Relationships

Great Networkers are Better Listeners

The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozer’s are good listeners, not good talkers. ~Guy Kawasaki

Networking is a critical skill to business success; except that it isn’t! It is critical. It influences business success. But, it is not a skill. Networking is an embedded character trait. If an individual performs in the business arena, then that trait reveals itself there. It is no more a skill than drinking when you are thirsty. Professionally, you must do it to survive.

Fortunately, networking is simpler than most ultra-polished salespeople lead you to believe. It is not a low golf handicap, late night cocktail parties or schmoozability. It is simply contributing to a community of people where you have an interest in helping. Best of all, this trait can be demonstrated in a few easy steps.

1. Listen
Because networking involves finding ways to connect someone to a resource, the first step is listening for the need. That means listening to understand that someone’s need in order to meet it with resources or a solution that you can access. Keys to listening include paying attention to verbal and non-verbal cues. Also, asking open-ended questions that allows your contact to share their pain is a sure-fire way to find opportunities to help. Now the connecting begins.

2. Really Listen
And, the connecting gets ramped when you really listen. You have asked questions and interpreted responses, but the real power starts when you listen to the point that you share the problem. Being undistracted and not interrupting are often overlooked listening skills. Pausing, then paraphrasing what you have heard, also allows you to show off superior listening skills. These practices give you more credibility when you are prepared to direct the target to resources that can solve the problem that you now share.

3. Give
The next step in great networking is giving. Not selling, but giving. Networking’s objective is establishing credibility, not selling a product. Sharing a resource, an idea, or a referral is a great way to build credibility. As credibility grows, you become the solution. Your product or service is merely a representation of your ability to deliver. But proven delivery comes before selling, therefore you must seize opportunities to give. And, as your networking turns into successful demonstrations of giving, the more indispensable you become.

4. Receive
While effective networking encompasses communicating and making resources available, the bottom line is, in fact, the bottom line. Business benefits are OK. Networking is contributing to a community. But, others need to contribute, as well. Permit yourself to accept their contributions. To be an effective networker you must make your desires known; a bold ask is important. And, be grateful. Networking is not trading business favors: I give one, now I get one. It is more like a family potluck. As long as everyone genuinely brings something, there will be more than enough for everyone.

Elevator speeches, clever techniques to remember names, memorable business cards are the icing. It is not the cake. Caring enough to contribute is networking. It is the sincere, “let me get back to you”. As you practice helping others more, you will find real professionals are eager to return your kindness. That is when your value grows because your relationships are now invested in your success. Now accept that investment and go network!

By Glenn Hunter

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August 9, 2013 - Posted by | Better Business, Better Person | , , , , , , ,

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