Networking – Be prepared to be amazed!

Have you ever been in this situation where you are talking with someone but it feels like the other isn’t listening, already thinking about his response? Isn’t it a common networking situation?

The other day, I was at a speed-networking event. The concept: you have 30 seconds to present your business to the person in front of you, then 30 seconds to listen to him, and so on with everyone in the room. I lived it like a mixed experience, quite funny but also extremely noisy. This is a prefect opportunity to practice your presentation, but I noticed that people are more focused on what they are about to say rather than listening to others. Is it a conversation as it should be? I don’t think so.

What is a good conversation then? How to interact with other in a more engage, productive and interesting way?

In my opinion, networking isn’t just going to some organised events. It’s every day, with everyone, on every opportunity. This isn’t necessarily speaking of yourself and your business every time, but it’s listening to others, building relationships and creating a brilliant network.

Celeste Headlee explain it perfectly in her TED Talk « 10 ways to have a better conversation »

This talk inspired me to enjoy every interaction with others as an opportunity to learn, to be inspired and to share with them instead of showing off my skills, talking of myself, and what I can do for them. Conversations are not supposed to be selfish – it’s quite the opposite actually.

“A conversation requires a balance between talking and listening” – Celeste Headlee

10 ways to have a better conversation by Celeste Headlee

1/ Don’t multitask. Be fully present, be in the moment, be focus on the other and what he is saying.

2/ Don’t pontificate. Expect argument and disagreement. You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn. Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.

3/ Use open-ended questions. Start your questions with who, what, when, where, why or how. You are going to get a much more interesting response.

4/ Go with the flow. Listen and try not to think of an interesting thing to say. By doing this, you stop listening.

5/ If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.

6/ Don’t equate your experience with theirs. It’s not about you. You don’t need to take that moment to prove how amazing you are. Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.

7/ Try not to repeat yourself.

8/ Stay out of the weeds. People don’t care about details. What they care about is you, what you have in common.

9/ Listen, the most important skill. If your mouth is open, you’re not learning.

The average person talks at about 225 words per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute. « Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intend to reply » Stephen Covey

10/ Be brief. A good conversation is like a miniskirt: short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.

Be interested in other people. Assume that everyone has some hidden, amazing thing about them. Go out, talk to people, listen to people and most importantly, be prepared to be amazed!

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