Networking is a fad

Networking is a fad. As is oxygen, indoor plumbing, and sliced bread.

Alright, we all know networking is far from a fad. Ask any successful business person today their stance on networking, and they will have plenty of positive things to say. Maybe a few decades ago, businesspeople said that networking was just the latest craze, but now in 2015 we cannot avoid it.

In my book “Truth or Delusion,” which I co-authored with Mike Macedonio and Mike Garrison, I discuss how referral marketing, networking, word of mouth, and social capital, or just learning how to connect with other people in meaningful ways, is a cornerstone to business. But not just business – successful business.

You can literally network anywhere, despite the common misconception that networking is for work events only. Even places that may not seem like networking opportunities, like a child’s play date, can turn into an opportunity to grow your Power Sphere when your daughter’s friend’s mom is a plumber and you’re an electrician.

perfectpraticeFor those who networking doesn’t come easy, in business it is imperative that you continue striving to perfect your networking game. The saying “practice makes perfect” comes into play here, but not how you might expect. This saying is only half true. In actuality, only perfect practice makes perfect.

I once heard a music teacher tell his students, “Lousy practice makes a lousy musician.” The same is true for networking; you can practice day in and day out networking the wrong way, and what will happen is you will just get really good at incorrectly networking. Perhaps even perfect at it. Perfect practice, however, will back up strong networking habits.

Perfect practice is as easy as reviewing with yourself or a close business confidant after networking attempts. What strategies did you use? Did you make a lasting impression on those you interacted with? How many people made an impression on you? Despite what you may think, others networking well does play into the effectiveness of your attempts. Never forget that networking is a two-way street.

What are some networking myths that you have encountered in your career? Join the discussion and share your comments in the form below!

Networking Is an Acquired Skill

The Third Law of Notable Networking: Networking Is an Acquired Skill
(Click Here to read about the First Law of Notable Networking and Click Here to read about the Second Law)

Most people are not born networkers; they develop the 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.

Remember Will Rogers’ statement 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.  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, read books and articles, talk to people who network well, and most important, practice what you’ve learned.  This is no less than what you would do to learn how to play golf, manage people, or sell a product.

Always keep in mind that in order to develop a successful word-of-mouth-based business, you must 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.  If you have questions about what to do (and/or not do) in order to most effectively greet people, exchange cards, listen, excuse or introduce yourself, please let me know in the comment forum below.  I’m more than happy to do follow-up blog posts on any/all of those specific aspects of networking (as well as any other aspects you may have questions about). Thanks!

Not a Born Networker? Don’t Sweat It–You’re in Good Company

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.

Becoming a Notable Networker–Tips and Insights

If you really want to succeed at networking, take a look at the following tips and insights:

  • Notable Networkers are people who are skilled at networking and committed to the idea that givers gain. By helping other businesses get new clients or customers, they get new business sent their way.
  • The key to building a word-of-mouth-based business is mutual support, not necessarily friendship.
  • Organizations that network effectively provide opportunities to develop and exchange quality business referrals. Being a member of a well-organized network is like having dozens of salespeople working for you, each referring prospective clients your way.
  • A Notable Networker must have a positive and supportive attitude. Good networking involves providing a positive and supportive environment for other businesspeople.
  • A Notable Networker must have and use the right tools to network skillfully, including an informative name badge, business cards and a business card carrying case to hold others’ cards.
  • Networking is an acquired skill; it requires listening to CDs, reading books and articles, talking to people who network well, and practicing what you’ve learned.
  • Effective networking requires practice, practice, practice–and then more practice.

Is there a bullet point in this list you would like me to expand on? If so, leave a comment and let me know; I’m more than happy to oblige. 🙂

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