It seems that some people do better than others in life. Is it because they are lucky?
No, I think it’s because the harder you work, the luckier you get. And I believe that perfect practice makes perfect.
A friend of mine once told me about the time she went to a friend’s house for lunch. Her friend was a concert pianist, and after lunch, he said to her, “I hope you don’t mind, but this is my practice time. You are more than welcome to stay and listen if you’d like.” She emphatically replied, “Of course, I would love to.”
People pay big money to watch this man play the piano, and she got a private concert. She told me, “I had this vision that I would be listening to him play scales, or maybe something that was not finished. But while I listened, my gosh, it was incredible! It was so beautiful, Ivan. I sat there while he played, and tears came to my eyes just listening to him practice. After he finished, I said to him, “my goodness, that’s the way you practice?” I was expecting something completely different, but this was like a concert. He replied, “Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. Every time I practice, I practice as though I’m in concert. That’s the only way I can improve my music.”
This story reminds me that practicing the skills necessary to become a successful networker is important, however, businesspeople can’t expect to become master networkers by simply going through the motions.
Avoid “Lousy” Practice
Having meaningful conversations with potential referral partners at networking events is a necessary skill for business networking success. And yet many professionals attend an event with ONE goal: giving their business cards to as many new contacts as they can meet before it’s over. Or worse yet, they confuse networking with direct selling and use the gathering as a face-to-face cold calling opportunity.
Yes, they could say that they were practicing having “conversations” with new people.
Consider this – 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 are the results? You’ll get really good at networking incorrectly and ineffectively.
Networking Skills to Practice
I offer these suggestions when you’re ready to practice effective networking skills.
- Always maintain a positive attitude. This includes the way you present yourself to other people. Everyone likes to do business with an enthusiastic optimist. Avoid complaining and don’t participate in gossip.
- Ask questions. When you meet someone new, ask about their business, why they love what they do, who their target market is. Then LISTEN to what they say.
- Maintain eye contact. Stay fully engaged in the conversation you’re having with someone. This shows your genuine interest in them.
- Help other people. A passion for helping others is an unbeatable complement to a hard and focused business drive. Follow the philosophy of Givers Gain®.
- Be trustworthy. Do what you say you are going to do. Every. Time. It is much harder to regain trust after it is lost.
- Follow up on referrals. ALL of them. Then update the person who gave it to you. If you don’t follow up on the referrals you get from others, you are losing potential business AND you are also losing the trust of those who referred you.
- Thank people. Express your appreciation to those who help you. This sounds so simple and obvious, yet an attitude of gratitude is a crucial networking skill.
All of these skills are part of the main purpose of business networking – long-term relationship building.
Master networkers know that the key to networking success is to build mutually beneficial business relationships with other professionals over time. You can do this by practicing effective networking skills at every opportunity you have to do so.
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