I was at a networking event recently; something I rarely do, as the idea of getting together purely to meet other people – rather than to work on or explore something that is a shared interest – still makes me wary.
One of the reasons for that wariness is that so many networking events are all about broadcasting to others information about ourselves – whether they want to hear it or not.
This is the absolute antithesis of what I believe about effective communication and how to build good relationships, i.e. that engaging with others is more important and more productive for everyone involved.
Engaging with others is all about asking them genuine questions and taking time to be truly interested in their reply. It is about understanding the other person and giving them focussed attention. But in reality, at the networking event in question, the individuals who talked about themselves (often at high volume!) – without showing interest in those around them – were the ones who stood out from the crowd. Everyone was aware they were there.
As with many networking events, the purpose of this event was to gain new business contacts – and most people there had something to sell. I left the event feeling that those who had focussed on broadcasting to, rather than engaging with, others would be remembered for longer and have more business opportunities as a result.
Is this focus on being seen (and heard) and the continuing rise of doing exactly what I am doing now – broadcasting my ideas/opinions – creating a business world where the idea of listening to others as good practice is now outdated? Is it more effective to tell others about yourself rather than finding out about them? Is the person who pays attention to others, rather than only pushing themselves forward, at a disadvantage? I certainly hope this is not the case.
What do you think?
[Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]