When it comes to business networking, practice alone is not enough. It must be effective practice. Simply attending meetings and going through the motions will not improve your networking or help you grow your business.
For those to whom networking doesn’t come easy, it is imperative that you continue striving to perfect your networking skills. The saying “practice makes perfect” comes into play here, but not how you might expect because that saying is only half true.
In actuality, only perfect practice makes perfect.
I once heard a music teacher tell their students, “Lousy practice makes a lousy musician.” The same is true for business networking. You can practice day in and day out networking the wrong way, and what will happen is you’ll get really good at incorrectly networking.
Lessons From Martial Arts
In martial arts, the sensei (master) says, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” If you’re just going through the motions, you are not learning and growing. Each time you do a kata (a system of basic body positioning and movement exercises in karate), it must be done as though you were in a tournament, or as though the sensei were there observing you. It is only with that intensity of focus does one improve. The same applies to your business networking efforts. If you apply the techniques halfheartedly, you get less-than-acceptable results.
Practicing the skills necessary to become a good networker is important. However, would-be networkers cannot expect to become master networkers by doing things in a perfunctory way, without commitment and effort.
Consider the short weekly presentation you make when you attend networking groups or various other organizations. Many people go to their meeting unprepared and unrehearsed, having only a vague idea of what they will talk about. While other members give their presentations, the unprepared person isn’t listening. They are thinking about their own upcoming presentation and how to say what they need to say. When their turn comes, they often stumble through an amateurish and marginal presentation. Yes, they practiced, but it was far from perfect practice, and the results prove it.
Lessons From Teachers
Do you think teachers wing their lesson plan? The better teachers set goals and objectives for what they want their students to learn. They spend time planning exactly what they are going to talk about in class. They prepare visual aids and handouts that reinforce the subject matter and facilitate learning from their presentation.
I recommend that, as a businessperson, you have similar goals and objectives. Ask yourself: What, exactly, do you want your listeners to learn about your business that they can pass along to prospects to create a possible referral for you?
If you are vague about your lesson plan, if you are unprepared to stand and deliver, your potential referral partners are going to leave the meeting without a clear idea of how to refer you to the people they know. You need to practice delivering your message. Standing up and winging it is not going to get you what you want. You must practice it perfectly to achieve your networking goals.
Business networking success comes with time and effective practice. You can do a review of your networking attempts and presentations with yourself or with a close business confidant after the meeting or event. What strategies did you use? Did you make a lasting impression on those you interacted with? What worked and what can you improve upon? Perfect practice is a commitment – to you and your business.
How has practice improved your networking skills and your results? I’d like to read your comments below. Thank you.
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