As professional networkers, we cherish the idea of freedom, yet we often confine that idea to dimensions of time and finance. In this column, the top networkers in our industry guide you to an even greater freedom available to you right now—personal freedom—by sharing how they live the principles of the Revolutionary Agreements: Truth, Acceptance and Gratitude.

In this issue, we focus on the Acceptance Agreement: “I agree to listen with my heart,” as Shannon Anima and Ana McClellan share their insights about listening for success.

Being of Service

Shannon Anima, from Victoria, B.C., Canada, is a networking leader, author and coach. She is also the director of the Million Blessings Foundation to promote children’s safety and healing (www.millionblessings.com).

Making phone calls is probably my favorite aspect of this business. Of course, it’s also my least favorite…right up until the moment I make the call. What a privilege to hear people in the midst of their lives! Sometimes after a call, with tears on my cheeks, I thank God for the chance to serve and be witness to someone’s grief, confusion or loneliness.

I start my calls with the usual request for a few minutes of their time, then let them know I’ll be bringing up business but first want to know about them. “How are you doing?” is a genuine invitation to talk while I listen. Yes, I am listening for ways my business and products may be of service to them—but more importantly, I am listening for how I can be of service. My most gratifying calls are often those that are not about closing a sale, but about a baby’s fussiness at night, listening to concerns about a relationship, sharing a laugh or a recipe.

This is something I am still learning, and don’t always manage successfully.

A dynamic young woman in my downline once asked me to give a presentation while she and another gal watched me in action. Determined to do a great job, I was delighted when a new prospect agreed to sponsor a business event in her home—and I was equally chagrined when she called back a few days later to cancel! On reflection, I realized I had done too much talking and not enough listening: eager to impress, I was trying to move her to my agenda and not really hearing where she was or what she was ready for.

Whether it’s in creating a winning, loyal downline team or reaching more clients with our business, listening with our heart is a doorway to success and freedom. When we drop our agendas and intended outcomes, we free ourselves from our fears and allow the angelic spirit of the “listening ministry” to take charge.

Revealing Connections

Ana McClellan, from Hadley, Mass., is a leader in network marketing, consultant to the profession and former Senior Editor of Network Marketing Lifestyles.

This is a relationship business, an education business…a listening business. It is not a business to “close” people, but to open them to the possibilities.

A woman who is now one of my strongest team members was initially turned off by her friend “pitching” her our business. New to the business, her friend was eager to download all the information she had every time she got in front of someone. What I’ve learned—and all successful people eventually learn—is to turn the tables and listen.

As I listened to her tell her story, I heard a wounded network warrior, one who had been abused by an unfair comp plan in a now defunct company. After years of devoted hard work, recruiting endlessly to make up for the lack of built-in residual income, she had reaped little financial reward. After hearing the details of her story, it was no wonder she had a bad taste for network marketing!

As I listened to her during several conversations, she slowly opened the door to return the listening. With all that I had learned from hearing her story, I could show her how our business was different from that which she abhorred. She joined our team, and it didn’t take her long to witness the differences herself as her repeating volume paid off month after month.

Listening with an open heart is equally important with team members. Not long ago, another key team member was shooting to reach his next title. Everything was in place: his volume requirements and organizational structure were on target to reward him for all his focused, hard work. The day arrived—and to his disappointment, he discovered that he had missed the promotion by a hair, because one of his team members missed hers. His pain was obvious.

I listened compassionately, remembering how I had faced the same defeat at that same level…and for the same exact reason. I knew that he would learn, as I had in the same situation, that the only thing we can control is our own actions, and that to be dependent on what others do is a setup for bitter failure. But blurting that out wouldn’t have helped. While I wanted to say, “Gosh, maybe you should have recruited a couple more people so you weren’t dependent on one,” I knew that there would be time for him to hear this later. Now it was important to simply listen. Later, when I did share that I had had a similar experience, it formed the connection necessary for him to ask me, “What did you do?”

One of the greatest joys in this business is helping people win. When I embrace someone with compassionate listening, I’m able to hear the person’s true need and offer genuine support. Through listening, I build a bridge of connection where we can meet for mutual support and form the foundation for life-long relationships.

MARIAN HEAD is on the faculty of Networking University,
is a network marketing leader, Contributing Editor to
Networking Times and author of Revolutionary Agreements:
Twelve Ways to Transform Stress and Struggle
Into Freedom and Joy.
www.networkingtimes.com/link/head