Listening is a lot like reporting, without the end product. Your goal is to be a fish out of water, and to learn as much as you can through observation, without taking out your microphone, which tends to elicit more rehearsed conversations. Some people in international development refer to this period of research as DBWA, Development By Walking Around. When they arrive somewhere new to work, they spend the first few days walking through the city or town, taking mental notes about how people move, interact, what stores there are, what the roads look like, how people greet each other, and the list goes on.
Listening is such an important way to start the process of building an audience, because it’s a disarming act: your agenda isn’t to record an interview to publish, your goal is to observe and engage. This sets you up for a repeat visit, this time as somebody the community has already met. That’s the first step.