When I started networking years ago, I sought advice on how to be the best networking possible. One key piece of advice that I received was that people enjoy talking about themselves and you should let them.
This is such a universal rule that I’ve applied to most aspect of my life and even relationships. I won’t mention which ones, because there may be some exes reading my blog.
Think about some of the conversations you’ve had. The difference between a good conversation and a great one, boils down to who did the most talking. If it was you, you probably really enjoyed it. I can’t say the feeling was mutual for the other person. No one wants to hear someone go on an on about themselves.
In fact the opposite is true. That’s one of the reasons first dates never go anywhere, the guy usually tells his full life story without giving the lady the opportunity to chime in and talk about herself. Instead of keeping the mood light, she feels suffocated and is counting down the minutes for this experience to be over.
So how can you take what would be an awful experience and turn it into something that you can benefit from?
Taking a more deliberate approach and letting the other person indulge their desire to hear themselves speak can pay off big. By allowing the person to steer the conversation in the direction they want, they feel more comfortable because they are driving the conversation in the direction they want it to go, and it helps to prevent the “when will this end ” feeling from the other person. If they start looking at their iPhones, you’re done.
Ask more questions than you answer.
This is a great sales tip as well as date tip. Avoid the temptation to want to speak about yourself. If you’re asked a question, keep the answer short and sweet. Fire back with a question of your own. Keep the focus and the attention on the other person. The key to getting what you want is being a good listener and encouraging others to talk about themselves.
Avoid the zero sum outcome
It is impossible to actively listen and talk at the same time. Trust me, I know. You can also ask my ex-wife. The point is everyone loves talking about themselves. Whenever you go to a networking event, there’s always someone that can’t wait for you to ask them what they do. When one person is doing the majority of the talking, the situation becomes very awkward. The more aware you are of this, the less likely you are to monopolize the the conversation. Relax, ask great questions and let the other person do the talking.
Related Post: Why Networking Isn’t Working For You