Do You Listen When You Network?

Posted by Kathleen Smith

Do You Listen?

“No man ever listened himself out of a job.”
– Calvin Coolidge

At a recent networking event I met several job seekers who were very interested in talking about career opportunities. I noticed most of them were not listening. All wanted to share their skills, proficiencies and qualifications, what they did and did not want in a corporate culture, and how so many companies had been unresponsive to them.

I listened and listened some more. I provided advice. At any networking event my goal is to give each job seeker one bit of actionable advice that they can take the moment they get home.

But the job seekers just kept on talking. We had two cases of not listening going on.

The first was job seekers who know everything about everything and want to make sure that everyone knows this. That reminded me of our video “Three Common Mistakes in a Job Search”:

The second case was job seekers who had been in a job search for quite awhile and were in need of someone to give them encouraging advice. It’s understandable that in a job search, which these days may run many months, that a job seeker will get to a point of frustration and will want to talk. To anyone who will hear them.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” – Ralph Nichols

At this most desperate job search time it’s more important than ever to listen. The challenge is when job seekers are so anxious to share their information that they completely overrun the conversation. They don’t leave space in the conversation to create a connection with the other party.

The U.S. Department of Labor Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) identified five competencies and three foundation skills that are essential for those entering the workforce. Listening skills were among the foundation skills SCANS identified.

Why You Need Good Listening Skills

Good listening skills make you more productive. The ability to listen carefully will allow you to:

  • — Better understand assignments and what is expected of you
  • — Build rapport with co-workers, bosses, and clients
  • — Show support
  • — Work better in a team-based environment
  • — Resolve problems with customers, co-workers, and bosses
  • — Answer questions

So while you move through your networking to support your job search or career development, take the time to listen.

“Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 07, 2011 5:14 am

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