Every single one of your actions generates a force of energy that returns to you. You can find it in physics, and in popular sayings, too — you reap what you saw. It's true. When you choose connective actions, when you support others and their projects, your return is success.
There are plenty of books, "how to" posts, and articles about networking — some quite useful. What these materials do not teach you, however, is intent. I've had this kind of discussion with my friend Peter on a couple of occasions.
In our conversation with you here a few years back, he said you can only be lost if you think you should be somewhere else. And that is the crux of understanding intent and present-moment awareness, or for the purposes of our conversation now, paying attention to what happens with the person in front of you.
There are different kinds of listening
We talked about a few here, and I'm sure you have experienced even more. In fact:
- listening is so much more than monitoring — it means: (1) being in tune with what your customers want and expect; (2) playing into the need for status and gratification people have; (3) helping people reward themselves by being generous to others; (4) tying what happens online directly into the real world; (5) being able to identify and capitalize on future patterns early on
- listening is a way to collaborate and improvise effectively — people buy, join, connect on the basis of emotion, conversation is a negotiation of meaning. Perhaps the most powerful way to soothe someone's emotions is to appreciate their concerns. There are three elements in appreciating someone. (1) You want to understand the other's point of view; (2) find merit in what they are thinking, feeling, or doing; (3) and communicate the merit you see.
- listening is a way to know your heart — silence is indeed golden. It is when you pause, keep your own assumptions and rushing thoughts still, that you can pay attention to the finer details, in between the words in a conversation
You could be dividing the same office, be across from each other and pop your head in the door of your team mate all day, and still not hear what she is saying. The quality of listening doesn't depend on the tools, nor in sharing an office space, or on being on the same team, if the heart, mind and desire are not there.
Listening is very important for finding meaning. And meaning is the key to connecting. Which is why networking is not an activity, not a verb, it's an outcome, a noun — a network. Social networks are not built overnight. Have you noticed how you need users to share their information, do something, bring others first before you can have a network?
80% of success is showing up
When you participate to the conversation and situation at hand, you begin building a network. There are all kinds of people and dynamics in a network, all of them, as we said this week, motivated by self interest. And that is great news, because it allows you to spice things up in making connections.
I've always been interested in learning about you, because I'm keen on finding ways to connect people to opportunities. Expansive behavior is contagious — it spreads through networks and benefits everyone, not just you.
It's easy to nod and see the wisdom of this statement conceptually. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first to put into practice — where to start? Who is more important?
The very same questions marketers and communicators ask when dipping their toes into social networks to benefit their organizations. Which is why listening and knowing what you're listening for is key in business.
On a more personal level, pick a couple of people you meet or bump into (nothing is ever by chance, by the way) today, every day, and truly listen to what they're saying. Not while you're busy saying your piece, or thinking about what *you* need to get done. Hit pause on your own internal conversation.
At first, you may not have any particular advice, or contacts, or action coming to mind. Accept that. Just honor the other with your attention.
You do that enough times, get into the habit of thinking about being useful and of service (or any other concept that fits who you are), and solutions, suggestions, connections will start to emerge from memory, opportunities to help someone will present themselves to you.
And you will recognize them, because you have invited them there.
It's not about social media, or any social-ism you can find online, even if you weren't looking. The conversation is not about who is right, who is best, and so on. Think of yourself as an ambassador in the business of social transformation. This is valid for individuals and organizations.
I connect people constantly, everywhere. It's exciting to see ideas brought to life in so many different ways. The secret to success is helping others succeed on their own terms. Worry less about being noticed, and notice the people around you, instead.