During a networking group discussion about best business practices, a panelist mentioned listening to your prospect first as a technique that will help you make an on-target pitch for their business. I’ve written about that before, admitting that I have not always listened first to a prospect, so this piece of advice hit home and was sitting at the front of my listening-refreshed mind.
Another participant at the roundtable reiterated how important it was to listen to anyone in a business networking setting, and to not make assumptions about how your businesses or network of contacts might be connected. He even related a story that started as a rebuff of his initial conversation with a fellow networker, and ended in a referral for him. I made a note to speak to him after the meeting, as his company is in our target market, and, after his comments, I thought we both might be willing to listen to what the other had to say.
I caught him after the meeting and asked him the origin of his company; they are new to the area, so I was interested if it was a startup, franchise, field office, or whatever. He immediately launched into the history of the company, the target market, the benefits of using them, the cost savings available, the deep pockets of overseas investors, the techniques he uses, and his edge on the competition. We talked about cultural similarities and made a joke, then he excused himself.
In the middle of his discourse I knew it was a lost cause. He had no intention of asking about my company, what we did, or how we did it. I knew that because I was listening to him, reading his body language and his tone. His attitude and verbiage made it clear to me that he would not need any help in building his business.
When he said you should listen to anyone, I guess he meant as long as that one is him.
Gentle reader, please be aware of yourself and your ears. If someone is courteous enough to ask questions of you and listen, return the favor. I do now. I practice what I preach.