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Networking 101 – Be prepared to listen

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My late friend Geraldine Bunting always told me that one of the things that her mother used to say is “There is a reason that God gave us two ears and one mouth!”

Frankly, I agree – we don’t listen enough. We are so busy, thinking about a clever thing to say in response to something that someone has said, that we don’t listen to all of what the other person is trying to say and yet conversely we become offended if someone doesn’t listen to what we have to say.

I am always reminded of an incident that happened to me at the garage. The petrol attendant asked me 3 times whether I wanted unleaded or leaded and each time, when I answered him, he was so busy talking to his mate that he didn’t listen – the result, of course, is that he put the wrong petrol into my car. When I pointed this out to him, he immediately stopped the incorrect petrol pump and started putting the correct petrol into the tank. When it came time to pay, I was presented with a bill for xx amount of litres of leaded petrol and yy amount of litres of unleaded petrol – I refused to pay for the leaded petrol. The Manager entered the debate and tried to insist that I pay for the leaded petrol as “it was already in my tank” – I refused and invited him to remove it from the tank as I had neither asked for it and nor did I want it – in fact, I requested his name and contact details because if anything untoward happened to my car, as a result of the wrong fuel being put into the car, I would be holding him personally responsible.

In this instance, not only did the petrol attendant not listen to the instruction, but when the result of this could have cost the garage money – suddenly it became my problem! How bizarre! Anyone who knows me though knows that I did not pay for the leaded petrol – in my opinion, the petrol attendant and the garage owner needed to be responsible for their own shortcomings – but that is another story for another day.

The point that I am trying to make is that there is usually a consequence for not listening and when you are in a networking environment this is usually the loss of a lead, loss of a sale and invariably – loss of a client!

A bit harsh, you may think! But think about it logically for a moment. Let’s say you are telling someone who you are and what it is that you are doing – he on the other hand, whilst appearing to be very interested in what you are saying, is watching the nubile young waitress who is serving a table nearby and clearly by following his glance and the glazed look in his eyes, he is not paying attention. He sells motor vehicles. At the same meeting, there is another chap who also sells motor vehicles. He on the other hand not only listens carefully to what you are saying but also takes notes and asks pertinent questions and really tries to understand what you are all about.

The very next day, your friend Geraldine Bunting is looking for a car, but wants to talk to someone who is not going to rip her off and who will tell her the truth – which of the two guys above are you going to refer her to – for me it’s a no brainer!

In my opinion, there is a consequence, each and every time that you do not listen – the question remains, however, whether you are prepared to bear that consequence or not.

It’s a conscious decision that only you can make!