Updated: Apr 17, 2019
Hiring managers can choose between qualified people they like and qualified people they don't. It's not surprising that they want to hire people whose company they enjoy.
According to a Harvard study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who ask more questions (particularly follow-up questions) during a conversation are seen as more likable. Both in-person and online.
I love how easy it is to apply psychological research:
1. Ask a question.
2. Listen fully to the response.
3. Ask a follow-up question. This can be as simple as a genuine, “What’s that like?”
Many people are starving to be listened to. That's why you can even hire a professional listener. No, not a therapist, social worker, or coach...purely a listener. I wanted to share this with you particularly if you're intimidated by networking.
I believe in thinking about networking events like a scavenger hunt called, “What is interesting about the humans here?"
Think of the best listeners in your life. Have you been in the presence of an outstanding listener lately? Isn’t it nourishing? I want to be more like them. I suspect most people don’t get that quality of presence very often.
I have a friend who, when she’s listening to me, makes me feel like I am the most engaging person on the planet. Nothing distracts her. It’s no surprise to me that she always has multiple options when job searching.
Another friend is so profoundly present and aware that people...manicurists, Uber drivers, strangers...spill their guts to her. She doesn’t even initiate it. I've noticed I can't help but do the same with her. It's exquisite to have the opportunity to be deeply heard.
A third friend is someone who no matter the event, seems to end up having a long, profound conversation with another person. I don't think he'd call it that. He's just inherently interested and present. Someone once told me that when speaking with this person, he forgets about socializing with anyone else.
I want this listening research to serve as a reminder that you don’t need to try to be interesting. Trying too hard is exhausting and a turnoff. Instead, make networking an act of curiosity. Humans are fabulous, bizarre, fascinating...they provide plenty of content.
I was recently at a small event with someone who seemed compelled to be fascinating. He is smart and witty, but continually jumped into conversations to insert himself, or turn the conversation in another direction...just as someone was about to get to their point.
I quickly began plotting my escape from the room. The person beside me, on the other hand, listened. When he spoke, he was really saying something and he communicated with authenticity and candor. I could sense his intelligence and good heart. When he got up to leave the meeting, I took it as the perfect time to escape and hurried out the door behind him.
It was pleasant talking to him in the elevator. He obviously had no agenda. He was just being a human riding an elevator. He talked a little about his wife and kids. He asked me a question and listened until I was done...even leaving space after I finished speaking.
Despite having absolutely zero exposure to his work or background, I was looking forward to the idea of referring him to others. And when I looked him up on LinkedIn? Wildly qualified. It would make me happy to send opportunities his way. The other guy who dominated the conversation? I don’t even remember his name.
When you focus on curiosity, networking gets easier and you become more magnetic. It’s as simple as asking a follow-up question and listening to the answer.
Want to release some of your networking baggage? Go you. You can always set up a free call with me if you want a personal cheerleader and strategist.
In your corner,