Are You Listening? 7 Tips for Successful Networking

I’ve often heard speakers talk about the “80/20” rule of networking. Basically, you listen 80 percent and talk the other 20 percent of the time. However, for some people, the very talk of networking makes them break out in a cold sweat. How can you maximize your efforts at a networking event?

7 Tips for Successful Networking

1. Ask good questions about the other person. Make sure the questions are the open-ended type that don’t allow for a one-word answer. Powerful questioning that doesn’t feel like an interrogation but shows real interest will help you to follow this 80/20 rule. Tip: Be careful with “why” type questions as sometimes this will make a person feel defensive.

2. Give a sincere compliment. In “Mastering Influence” by Tony Robbins, he takes it one step further. After you give the sincere compliment, ask a question as to how they achieved it. Doing both in combination will make the person on the receiving end feel that the compliment is genuine.

3. Try to establish common ground. College, where a person grew up, common sporting interests, community involvement, etc. can all lead to finding common ground and perhaps people you both know. Estimates indicate that up to 80 percent of jobs landed are through networking.

4. Know your networking objective. Make sure that you know who will be in attendance and the people with whom you will want to connect.

5. Solve challenges. Perhaps while you are actively listening, this person might mention a project on which they are working, but can’t find a person who can program the website or cannot locate a resource that would help to launch the project. Connecting people with other people who can solve their challenges is one of the most powerful networking strategies and it really helps to cement a longstanding relationship.

6. Exchange business cards. This one might seem trivial, but I want to take this point one step further. Before you leave, make notes on the back of the business cards about common interests, follow-up ideas you have, etc.

7. Stay in the process of continual networking. The most common mistake I see when I work with people in career management strategies is that they view networking as a job search strategy only. You will want to stay in touch with friends, family, colleagues, and people with whom you meet at networking events. Give to the people as much as possible. If you see an article, magazine, or book they would enjoy, either send it or refer them to it with a nice note or phone call, letting them know that you thought of them when you saw it. Also, send resources to people that would be helpful to them in their industry.

Making these efforts, no matter how small they may seem, really help to establish your know, like, and trust factor. Think about who you want to help – more often than not, it’s someone you know, like, and trust.


Kristen Jacoway is the founder of Career Design Coach, providing professional speaking, training, and one-on-one consultation focused on next-generation career marketing services. She wrote the book, “I’m in a Job Search-Now What???” and the book has frequently ranked in the Top 100 in its’ category on Amazon.

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  2. […] 4. Listen More Than You Talk: People love to talk about themselves. Encouraging them to do so allows you to better determine if they might be a prospect or an influencer, or if they might be connected to someone you want to meet. Equally important, getting them to speak will help you know if you can do some good for them, and that’s a critical part of business networking. The critical thing here is to really listen! […]

  3. […] Just go back to your office. Want to build relationships with new partners? Strengthen your team? BE PRESENT. Tag team, not whole team. Bunching up with your office mates at the company party is like hiding […]