For the majority of the world, networking is an acquired skill. Most people are not born networkers; they develop networking skills through education, training, the right attitude, and long practice.
Any technique of value requires a commitment to learning how to use it effectively. The next generation of business professionals will operate under a different model of management, in which networking will be an integral element. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn to network more effectively. It is a skill that will only grow in importance.
It’s like a statement Will Rogers once made about being on the right track: “If you’re just sitting there, you’re going to get run over!” If you are active in a networking organization, you’re “on the right track.” The key, however, is to take advantage of the opportunities that these groups have to offer. This means you need to be an active participant in the networking process to get any substantive results.
Curiously, many people invest time in networking, but not in learning how to network. This is like trying to play tennis or golf without lessons. Sure, you can perform, but how well? Simply attending meetings is not enough.
You need to listen to CDs and podcasts, watch videos, read books and articles, talk to people who network well, and most important, practice what you’ve learned. This no less than what you would do to learn how to play golf, manage people, or sell a product.
Attend every networking event that you can and practice, practice, practice! Practice greeting people, handing out your card, asking for their cards, listening, excusing yourself, and introducing yourself to others. In short, there are many skills to acquire and to perfect; you can’t expect to become a master after your first couple of visits to various networking functions. With that in mind, consistently learn and absorb all you can about how to become an effective networker and make a constant effort to put what you learn into practice.
Networking success is not about being a born natural . . . it’s about learning, practicing, and applying what you learn in order to become a master at networking. Putting in the work to become successful at networking is sure to pay big rewards, not only in business but in life as well.
Do you have a story about how your time and effort in becoming a better networker have paid off in a remarkable way? If so, please share it in the comments section.