Business networking. Sometimes it's better to say less and listen more.

Words can be over-rated

One of my favorite axioms is, “Networking is simply saying the right thing or asking the right question to a key person at the right time.” This requires thought and preparation—and it’s worth the effort. Good impressions are established and relationships move forward. Referrals result; abstract conversations turn to discussions about concrete opportunities. That’s the way it works.

Sometimes, however, what you don’t say is just as important. Hold back on sharing your true feelings about your previous job or employer. No one wants to hear complaints or observe your finger pointing. Taking the high road is always best, e.g. “My ideas just were not right for the department given my boss’s priorities. It seemed like a good decision for both parties to move on.”

Other times, our gestures, posture and facial expressions can make all the difference. Smiles disarm and make others comfortable. Standing and walking tall speaks volumes about your confidence. Eye contact is essential to mutually connecting conversations. And a foundational tenet for a successful interview is pausing and smiling at the right spots as you make your important points.

For example….“As we developed the central points for our case, it became clear that we’re missing critical inputs from management (PAUSE, SMILE); the team then developed a survey instrument which resulted in new data from the executives and a more thorough report….(PAUSE) After the presentation, we received a personal note from the CEO congratulating us on our research.” (SMALL SMILE)

Journal Entry August 4, 2015

I sit with Mom and, as I sometimes do, texted my youngest brother Bill to tell him I’m with her. Bill texts me back requesting I give her a smooch for him. I do and I say it’s from her baby boy. She smiles. You know who your baby boy is, right? I ask…..She looks puzzled, wrinkles her nose and mouth the way we all love. I name her boys…” Tom? Jack? Jim?…..when I say Bill, she smiles and nods.
I ask her to please smile again. She does. You smile is like an angels’, I tell her. She is absolutely beautiful.


Reflect on your body language i.e. posture, facial expressions, eye contact and smile when speaking with others in work related situations. Ask for feedback from a close colleague on this topic.

Recall a situation when you may have said too much in an interview or meeting. How might it help your next discussion to prepare by writing down points you want to make as well as those issues you don’t want to bring up or ways to deal diplomatically with difficult questions?

*TranSpirations III is a series of writings connecting Tom’s journal entries leading up to his Mom’s death on August 10, 2015, to some of the challenges people face in work related transitions.

Thomas Bachhuber, Ed.D., President of the Board and Executive DirectorThomas Bachhuber, Ed.D.
President of the Board and Executive Director for The Center for Life Transitions. Tom is responsible for overall Center leadership and strategy. His individual coaching/counseling as well as workshops and retreats focus on integrating leading career development ideas with spiritual exploration. Read more.