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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh.



"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 1 Kings 19 11-12

Two weeks ago I spent some time talking to people from all over the world about how to effectively network for your business and career.

From the USA to Ireland, Bulgaria, Australia, Canada and Mexico, people weighed in on what makes them  effective at  networking.

Authenticity, Integrity and Giving before Receiving; they were all cornerstones of their networking success.

But there was one quality I had over looked.

It's listening. More aptly put it's active listening. 

You know, like I am truly interested in what you are talking about because I am honoring the you as a person with valuable insights and a business or career you are proud of?

Ouch!

Gotta tell you it stung  a bit. 

When the bell sounds and the networking begins, if I'm not the first one out of the gate, I'm going over my elevator pitch in my head, refining it to my audience. Getting ready to put my best foot forward.

Excuse me, did you say something?

(((Oh, well I don't think I'll ever need a veterinary service for exotic reptiles so I'll smile, nod and add a few "Oh really's" !?!?")))

It never dawned on me that other people were doing the same thing when I was talking. 

When I listen to you I increase your chances of listening to me. 

Yeah sometimes it is a battle. 

I DO LISTEN! - Really I do. 

By that Friday morning I was in a bit of a tizzy. 

Somewhere during the drive over that Scripture verse slid into my head. 

"And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 

(Thank you Holy Spirit, ancestors and assorted angels who guide me.)

The prophet Elijah couldn't hear God's call because he was listening for all the wrong things. He was tailoring other peoples messages (God's) to his own personal needs.

Never mind that the message might be of benefit to someone he knew, loved or worked with.

How do we, me included, become more effective listeners.

First,  understand that listening isn't a passive skill but an active one.
REAL listening takes effort and self discipline. It's easier when I believe in my core values that what you share, even if it is something I'll never need or want, is equal in value to what I share.

Second, I can tell if you are listening.  - You are making eye contact when I am speaking.
I made a concerted effort to look at the speaker and take a few quick notes. It shows I'm engage. Ask them questions. You would be surprised that when it's your turn to speak how people will return the favor.

Third, practice the 5 P's - Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. 
Networking is an essential part of your career or business. Just like everything else you prepare for networking should be something that is "good to go" when you arrive at the event.

One of the more effective net workers I know has her team work off a loose script she prepares for them each week. It is always something memorable - good advice or an FYI.  I've noticed, since I've started taking Remedial Listening Skills 101-A that the prepared person is able to listen comfortably to what other people in the group have to share.

How I listen to you says a lot about my character and integrity.

It's an uphill battle, for sure, because just like you I want to be heard.

"The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both." Proverbs 20:12

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This is the final blog I'm writing on networking. I hadn't intended for there to be 6 of them but every time I finished writing I felt I had more to say on the issue. I've been encouraged to put together a webinar series on networking. So stay tuned and if you'd be interested in learning more you can contact me at newcareercreations@outlook.com


Next week I'll begin talking about the issue of Career Transitions.  Should be fun