Lillian Bjorseth: Check your ego at the networking door


By Lillian D. Bjorseth, Guest Columnist

Lillian Bjorseth, CEO of Duoforce, discusses productive networking
Lillian Bjorseth, CEO of Duoforce, discusses productive networking

If people agree that networking is more about the other person, then why do so many forget to check their ego at the door?

It can be disconcerting and downright irritating to talk with someone who uses “I” a dozen times in the first few minutes. Over and over again, you hear, “I am doing this. I am enjoying this success. Here what I did when that happened to me.”

For good measure, some networkers throw in a few “my’s,” as in, “My book is outselling others in its genre,” and “My workshop was such a big hit.”

Four  tips for productive networking

Why do people do one thing when they profess to believe another? Here are four solutions to common challenges to checking your ego at the door:

 Challenge: The biggest block is inherent in being human. Most people want to talk more than listen. They think what they have to say is more important. And what they have to say is frequently about them or their unsolicited opinions about your business.

 Solution: Use this folk saying as your guide: God gave us two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we talk.

 Challenge: Some people networking style is dauntless. That means they naturally exhibit a powerful aura. They use strong, forceful gestures. They are impatient and, therefore, dislike small talk. They get bored easily. They finish others sentences, interrupt and talk over others.

Solution: Accept and use networking etiquette and protocol even if you don t agree. Listen even if the outcome doesn t affect you. Refrain from trying to run the conversation, the event, the meeting or the project. Watch how the results change.

Challenge: Some people simply have over-inflated egos. They actually believe they are better than others, and their mission is to let the world know.

Solution: Pay attention to how others try to break away from conversations with you. Notice how they quit talking because it is useless to try to talk over you or top your stories. Make a pact with yourself to ask questions of the people you talk to. Ask them about their business and their interests. Be quiet, and let them answer. Then respond to what they said. If you are talking with good communicators, they will ask you questions as well.

Here’s another hint to try: Count to three after you think someone is finished speaking to make sure they really are.

Here to meeting more people who have checked their egos at the door and personify that networking is more about you than me.

Lillian Bjorseth is CEO at Duoforce Enterprises Inc., cofounder at the Greater Chicagoland Networking Extravaganza and author of Breakthrough Networking: Building Relationships that Last. The Illinois chapter of the National Speakers Association has named her 2009 Outstanding Chicago Speaker and 2010 Member of the Year.