We’ve all been on that date where the other party does nothing but talk about themselves, blah, blah, blah. On a date, you have to at least pretend to listen. As a good networker, you must always listen.

Why? Well, to be a good networker, you have to be willing to pass a lead or referral in order to get one. That requires you to be an engaged listener and actually register mentally or on paper what the other party wants or needs. If listening is not your strong suit, you can always get better by following a few simple guidelines:

  • Turn your body toward the person – Facing and turning towards the people you are networking with conveys respect and interest and is a gesture that invites them in.
  • Make eye contact – You want to look people in the eyes when they are speaking and avoid any tendency to look anywhere but at the person you are speaking to. Keeping eye contact makes you a better listener.
  • Nod occasionally – This is part of being an engaged listener and lets the other person know that what they say is being heard. It doesn’t mean you agree or understand everything, but it does encourage the other person that you are there.
  • Have a calm presence – Avoid fidgeting, rustling papers, twirling pens and so on. Not only does it make a less than favorable impression on the other person but it distracts you from listening for those key points that are critical to passing leads and referrals.
  • Be curious and ask questions – If during the course of your one-on-one you hear something that piques your interest or you don’t understand, ask the question. This does a couple of things. It lets the other person know you are listening, but more importantly it makes the meeting more of a conversation. We always remember more from a two-way conversation rather than a one-way lecture.

Sure, there are many other things needed to be an effective networker, but it all starts with listening. Fortunately, it’s an easy skill to practice, especially if you are in a networking group like My Pinnacle Network. You can easily make each elevator pitch an opportunity to practice the above techniques by pretending each speaker is talking directly to you. You’d be amazed how that can translate to effective listening habits in a one-on-one meeting.