This networking tool ties in closely with Tip #2 (Be A Committed Conversationalist), since the only way to stay engaged in a quest to learn more about someone else is to keep probing and asking questions based on the answers to previous questions. Active listening requires being “present” and totally engaged in what the other person is saying.
Being a committed and active listener is tough to do. It requires discipline and practice! Granted, it’s really easy to get distracted by “shiny things” in the room like other people you want to meet, friends, texts, phone calls, etc. Active listening in a networking setting requires a total and selfless commitment to hearing the other person’s story, as brief, concise or mundane as that story might be.
It’s the other person’s story and to him or her, it’s very important. Besides, there’s really no value in talking to your friends at this event because you already know them. Always use the networking event as a chance to make new contacts….never to catch up with friends. Instead, have lunch or coffee with them some other time.
Unless there’s some dire reason to have your phone on while you’re at the networking event (sometimes we have child and aging parent issues for which we need to be “on-call”, but barring something like that), leave the phone off or in your car. It’s impossible to be a fully “present’ and active listener when you’re distracted. Eliminate as many distractions as possible.
Once enough information has been shared to determine whether or not this is a good networking “fit” for business, the savvy networker will either politely disconnect and move on to meet other potential business connections or suggest a subsequent meeting for more in-depth conversation. If a future meeting is warranted, swap contact information (card, etc) and move on to meet more people.