The Quiet Side of NetworkingThe Quiet Side of Networking Image

Networking situations cause people to stress out over what should be said. But networking doesn’t mean doing all of the talking.

The world abounds with free and interesting information if you just take the time to be seriously curious and listen. Writer Fran Lebowitz says, “The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.”

Unfortunately, many people act that way in conversations—impatiently waiting instead of listening. The goal of listening during networking is to get your partner to elaborate. This enables you to learn more and work to build a relationship.

Conversation expert, Ken Metzler suggests the following responses designed to get your partner to talk:

Type of Response


  • Taking it in

“Oh, I see…”, “Uh-huh”, “Okay”

  • Agreeing

“Right”, “Yes”,

  • Challenging

“I don’t believe it”

  • Responding positively

“How interesting!”, “Wow”, “Amazing”

  • Clarifying

“What do you mean?”

  • Expanding

“Along that same line, do you…?”

  • Diverging

“On the other hand, do you think…?”

  • Probing

“Do you mean…?”

  • Involving

“What did that mean to you?” “To your team?” “To your family?”

  • Being quiet

Count to 10 silently. Most people can’t stand conversation silence that long. They will often continue on — elaborating or explaining.


Reinforce your listening with non-verbal cues such as leaning forward, using eye contact, reacting appropriately with facial expressions and keeping your body facing your partner.

Resource: Great Connections—Small Talk and Networking for Businesspeople, by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon

“Master the art of communication. The ability to communicate effectively with people from all walks of life will differentiate you from most peers and position you for success in whatever endeavor or career path you pursue.”

Jeff Rachor, CEO, Pep Boys