Updated: Aug 10, 2022
We all understand the benefits of networking and meeting new faces, but are we actively listening? I meet people all the time but that's the easy part for a natural extrovert. The benefits of active listening is a soft skill that can take your relationships to new heights. It’s true, most people can’t wait for you to shut up so they can start talking about themselves. I’ve seen so many people force connections and not truly give their full attention. They have this Wolf of Wall Street mentality, rushing through conversations and only focused on what the other person can do for them. To create a mutually valuable and reciprocal relationship develop your active listening skills.
First off! What is Active Listening? Active listening is the practice of preparing to listen, observing what verbal and non-verbal messages are being sent, and then providing appropriate feedback for the sake of showing attentiveness to the message being presented. This form of listening conveys a mutual understanding between speaker and listener.
This simple soft skill is underrated and helps the person you’re speaking to feel validated. It says “This person is listening to me” and “This person respects me”. A quick story about a friend and former client who walked into a regular networking event and left out with an opportunity to work with Jay-Z.
My buddy tells this story and I find it absolutely fascinating to this day. It was a regular non-profit networking event where the average attendee was probably 45+ years old, mainly professionals. You know the type of events with great food spreads and a snazzy little open bar. My client sees an older woman in her late 60’s, with colored glasses standing near the bar by herself sipping a cocktail. The entire room was already engaged in conversation but this short statured, friendly looking woman was just riding solo. My client makes a bee line over and they strike up a great conversation.
The connection is made and she says “You know? I have this friend who is looking for help on a project with this rapper. I can’t remember his name. I think it’s Jay-B or Jay G” and my client interrupts with eyes wide open, “You mean Jay-Z? Like the biggest rapper in the world Jay-Z?” and she confirms. The next few weeks my client would not only get a meeting with Jay-Z but walked out with a check from Mr. Sean Carter. The power of networking is obvious but my clients ability to actively listen and apply the different types of listening skills were critical to that deal closing.
A few strategies to become a more active listener.
Be present and in the moment: This is a hard one for a lot of people in the era of social media. The ability to stay still and listen to the person in front of you without worrying about what latest Twitter topic is trending, is difficult for some. Clear your mind and focus on the person in front of you.
No Electronics: How many times have you ever been talking with someone and they’re simultaneously looking at their phone while communicating with you? This is off putting and sends a message that you’re not actively engaged and disingenuous.
Wait your turn: A conversation is like watching a good tennis match and the beauty is the ball can only be on one side of the court at a time. Let the other person finish speaking before you interrupt and give your response. It’s a sign of emotional intelligence when you know how to navigate a conversation. I think a good technique is conscious breathing while listening, as it helps you reset before speaking.
Engage: It's all about energy and making sure you pick up on verbal and non-verbal social cues like expressions, body language, tone of voice and personal space or boundaries. The more you you socialize the better you'll get at picking up on things.
There are several soft skills but active listening is one of the most important and can help you build your business and create long lasting relationships. We can't promise a meeting with Jay-Z but you never know (lol).
I always practice what I preach so if you’re looking for help launching your business or concept give us a shout at Michael@therebelcamp.com.
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