Networking, even for introvertsMany people are intimidated by the thought of going to a networking event. Well, here’s a helpful hint. When you go to a networking event, think about shining the light on other people, not yourself.

My mother taught me some of the most valuable lessons of my career. When you ask people questions about themselves and then intently listen to the stories that they tell you, they will like you more than if you talk about yourself.

Now that I am saying this out loud, it seems so obvious.

However, I think people are intimidated by networking because they think they are going to have to be so witty and intelligent sounding. But, if you are actually an intent listener, you will be even more memorable.

Here’s an example.

You meet Joe at an event. You ask Joe where he’s from. He tells you he is from a certain place and you respond that you haven’t heard of that place. So, you ask him to tell you more about that place. Then you pick up on one detail. Maybe he will say that he learned to ski or swim in his hometown. So, you ask him if he still skis or swims. Then you ask him where he goes to do that. Then you ask him if he has family or friends who go with him? Just keep asking more questions and encouraging Joe to talk about himself. I can guarantee you that Joe will remember you as a really interesting and caring individual. He will remember you more than if you tell a long, drawn-out story about yourself and your own background.

There’s a saying that you need to grow bigger ears and a smaller mouth to be successful at networking. People who know me will laugh because I do love to talk, but I also make a concerted effort to ask people about themselves and to remember details so I can bring something up the next time I see them.

So, if I see Joe at the next gathering, I would say, “Hey, Joe, have you been skiing with your family lately? How were the conditions? Are you going again soon?

Just remembering that detail about what Joe likes to do will even further reinforce to Joe that you are care enough about him to remember your last conversation.

This, in my mind, is one of the most powerful secrets of success in business. Listening and asking questions, then listening more and remembering details will make you stand out in the crowd. You will be the one that person remembers from that networking event and they will want to spend more time with you because you care about what they have to say.