“Enthusiasm means there is a deep enjoyment in what you do plus the added element of a goal or vision that you work toward.”
-From “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle
Do you ever attend networking events, business gatherings or one-one lunches where you feel like other people are simply waiting for their turn to talk? Do you ever feel like people ask you a question simply so they can turn around and tell you how they would answer the same one? Painful, right? Makes you want to hightail it out of there.
But, believe it or not, this tendency for humans to LOVE talking about themselves (some more than others) is a great opportunity for growing your business. I am a career sales and business development professional and I have learned a lot about selling strategies and techniques. The single most important skill I have developed is listening with enthusiasm. Listening is not about what you are going to say in response. It is about genuine curiosity and understanding. I am interested in other people’s stories and most people are (that means you!), thus the success of marketing by storytelling. In business, it is easy to take that one step further: Let me enjoy this person’s story with the goal of learning whether or not I can help this person and get paid for it.
If you are trying to find and choose the right opportunities, listening is especially crucial- how do you know if you can help a potential client if you do not truly and deeply understand the whole picture? And, this is important: if you understand the whole picture clearly and from the start, it can save you time in the end if you find you won’t be able to help that person or organization, or you don’t want to. No matter what, you feel empowered and you get to learn something new.
- -are fully present. It sounds kind of trite. Who doesn’t work on “being present” these days? Well, it applies to listening too. So, namaste.
- -practice active listening. If you don’t already know about this, it means repeating back to the person with whom you are speaking what you understood her/him to be saying. Sounds like “ok- so this is what you are you saying….” or “ What I am hearing you say is……
- -are truly curious. It is a hard thing to fake. So if you really aren’t, politely excuse yourself from the conversation and move on to another person. Sounds like “Really? And then what…..” , “Tell me more about….” or “Give me an example of …..”
- -Look you in the eye.
An exercise: Next time you find yourself among others, try listening for 70% of the time and only talking for 30% of the time.
And when you are at a loss for words, go with it!