How to Leave a Lasting Impression at Networking Events

Mar 25, 2014

Do you show up to networking events feeling self conscious and insecure about how to answer the question: “so, what do you do?” While it’s important to have a clear answer to this often dreaded question, I’m about to share something that might make all you networking haters jump with joy:

The less you talk about yourself, the more powerful and lasting your impression will be.

You see, people associate you with the feelings you evoke in them, so the more you can get them talking about themselves, the better they’ll feel about you! You do this by being curious and asking lots of questions that make them feel like the most fascinating person on the planet. They’ll leave the interaction thinking “wow, I really like that lady. I’d like to get to know her better!”

Now, here’s the thing, you can’t make this powerful impression by asking lots of questions alone. You must also have GREAT listening skills. Below are six qualities of great listeners. You know, those people at networking events who everyone flocks to while you stand awkwardly rehearsing what to say if anyone asks you a question. Master the six qualities of great listeners below and astound yourself as you become someone who everyone flocks to too!

6 Qualities of Great Listeners:

1. They Are Present 

This means they don’t think about what they’re going to say next while the other person is talking. Nor are they distracted by everything on their to do list. Great listeners understand that it’s not about how much time they have for an interaction, but rather, the quality of each interaction. Quality interactions can not happen without being 100% present.

2. They Make Eye Contact 

Eye contact is the #1 way people know if they’re heard. Eye contact also adds warmth to your presence which makes people feel cared for and understood. Pay attention to the type of eye contact you make. When stressed, you’ll tend to hold tension around your eyes. Practice tightening and relaxing your eye muscles in the mirror so you can see the difference. It’s subtle, but makes a big difference to the person you’re talking to.

3. They Ask Meaningful, Open-Ended Questions

Questions like: “tell me the story behind that?” “How did you get into your line of work?” “What do you love about your career?” “Who do you serve and what specific problems do you help them solve?” “Where do you see your business in 5 years from now?” All of these questions deepen the conversation and keep the other person talking. And remember, the more they talk about themselves, the more they like you!

4. They Don’t Bobble Head or Repetitively Say “Uh-huh” 

Great listeners have poise. To show understanding they nod their head one nod at a time or they say “uh-huh” or “I see” or “that’s interesting.“ They don’t do what I call the bobble head - excessively nodding their head in agreement and saying “uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh” repetitively. Bobble head and repetitive “uh-huhs” distract the person who is talking from what they are trying to say.

5. They Listen with Their Whole Body 

Great listeners listen with open and receptive body language. An example of receptive body language when sitting, is to sit facing the person you’re talking to with your feet flat on the floor and your arms resting on your lap or on the table. Do not cross your arms. Crossing your arms makes you appear closed off and shuts down your heart. To open your heart, pull back your shoulders and imagine a warm, glowing beam of light extending up and out from your chest. If you must cross your legs, cross them toward the person you’re talking to, not away.

6. They Breathe

Breath creates ease and flow in the body. It also creates presence - the most essential component to great listening. If you aren’t breathing, you’re likely out of your body and too much in your head thinking about what you want to say next. When you don’t breath your body also appears tight and constricted which can make you come across as closed off to the person you’re listening to.  

Of course, this isn’t an exclusive list of what makes a great listener, but these are the top 6 qualities that I have found to work for me and many of my clients. Master these qualities and watch yourself become that person everyone wants to know, without having to say more than a few words!

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