This is the fourth in my series about the five networking fundamentals to help you land a job. Don’t miss the pieces about the keys to researching your networking targets and how to ask good questions. Today’s installment is about being interested in the replies, which is mainly about being a good listener.
Good listening is fundamentally important for job seekers and all careerists. Iâ€™ve written about this and cannot say it enough.
It is so easy to be distracted. The buzzing (or ringing) phone in your pocket, the online ad that is dashing across your screen while you are typing an email, Tweetdeck notifying you of direct messages, the “to dos” running through your head while speaking to someone…This list is never ending. Being distracted is easy.
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Re-learning how to focus and concentrate is important, because good listeners have more opportunities to succeed at networking, in interviews and on the job. I can’t tell you how often I have interviewed a candidate, asked a question and gotten an answer that has nothing to do with what I wanted to know. Clearly, the person was not practicing active listening!
What can you do to improve your skills in this area?
JobsDB.com has some useful tips (bold from them, commentary is my own):
- Learn to listen by using lots of eye contact. It is harder to be distracted if you are really focusing on the speaker.
- Be slow to speak. Don’t interrupt.
- Be Attentive. Sit still and nod your head. Make sure your body language shows your interest. Lean in and keep your body turned directly to the other person.
- Show Gratitude.
Thanking someone for a specific piece of advice or information clearly shows that you were listening and paying attention. Plus, people love to be thanked…It really helps form a connection that could result in more opportunities to share and learn.
- Stay in Tune.
“If you find that your attention span is small, actively repeat what is being said to you as the speaker is speaking.” It’s rude to let your mind wander when someone is talking. If you are not interested in the conversation, change the subject or excuse yourself. Don’t give yourself permission to ignore what is going on in the discussion at hand.
Dawn Rosenber McKay, who writes for About.com, adds another great point: “Repeat instructions and ask appropriate questions when the speaker has finished.” This is a great tip to help maintain focus.
Stay tuned for more ideas to improve your listening skills…In the meantime, feel free to share your ideas and stories about good listening!
Photo by Beverly & Pack