Networking done well is about connecting and that means active listening, finding common ground and building rapport. If you are not familiar with active listening, or not good at it, there is some useful information here. With active listening you will soon understand someone’s ‘map of the world’ and be able to meet them there. The following example should help.
I was on a networking meeting recently and it followed the normal pattern; about half the attendees mentally switched off after they had given their pitch and about half were listening to the others. As I was speaking, I noticed one person in particular nodding at some of the things I said, a physical sign that she was actively listening. I was therefore not surprised when, shortly after the meeting, she connected with me on LinkedIn and suggested a Zoom one-to-one. Once we had settled on a day and time, she came back with “Your Zoom or Mine?” Humour is a good way to build rapport.
When we had our online meeting, we soon established that a concern for the environment was the biggest thing we had in common. I explained that my approach was to try to influence how people thought about climate change and biodiversity loss, I was not one for direct action and was unsure whether some of Extinction Rebellion’s actions damaged the cause more than helped it. However, I do agree that some dramatic action was needed to wake up politicians and other world leaders who are sleepwalking into a climate change nightmare. She told me that her sister was a member of Extinction Rebellion and in the April 2019, London protest she had glued her breasts to the floor outside the Goldman Sachs office in Fleet Street. She said it in a tone, and with a look on her face, which said she admired her sister’s commitment to her beliefs, but was not keen on her tactics and all that was wrapped in sisterly love. We were both now on the same map of the world. I was also in awe of her sister. I don’t normally agree with sexual exploitation; however, on this occasion I couldn’t stop myself admiring how this spirited lady had used her assets to exploit gullible men, Sun readers. Climate change became a big story in the Sun “BOOBY TRAP Eco-warrior glues her BREASTS to the road in most bizarre Extinction Rebellion stunt yet”.
We continued chatting learning more about each other, her husband was keen on taking on big physical challenges so more common ground. I was able to suggest some useful contacts for her and after the meeting she sent me some helpful information. It was a productive and enjoyable meeting; she did not try to sell me anything and I did not try to sell her anything; however, I know our businesses will benefit from the connection.
Rather than sell, sell, sell and tell, tell, tell actively listen, build rapport, have great conversations and create beautiful networks.
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