September 01, 2014

For the Attentive Networker: Listen and Then Listen Some More

Matthew A. Gorney

Networking is not my forte, but listening is.

For a recent law school graduate hunting for that much-coveted first job, nothing is more important than networking. Not only will successful networking help me find that job, but it will allow me to begin building a reputation in the market I want to work in.

As there was no networking class in law school, I’ve had to turn to my other natural skills gained from years as a journalist. For me, the key to networking is active listening.

While listening is easy, active listening is difficult. Active listening requires you to exist in two places: in the moment and in the next moment.

I’m eager to learn about people and how they came to be where they are. When at events where I’m meeting people, I love to ask questions and hear the answers. During the answer, I’m formulating the next question.

Taking another’s answer and creating new questions from that is a great way to learn about people. It allows you to dig deeper than what anyone can get on the surface level. Doing this also shows you have a genuine interest in the person you’re talking to and allows the two of you to develop a connection. Finally it makes you much more memorable.

The key is to know how to not only listen but also to hear what the other person is saying. Learning about others is how you make connections with those people. Connections are the foundation upon which networking is built.

Matthew A. Gorney

Matt graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law in May 2013. While at KU he jointly earned a Masters Degree in Strategic Communications. Matt has previously served as the student editor for Student Lawyer and the Secretary-Treasurer for the Law Student Division of the ABA.