Since practically no college curriculum in networking exists (despite its importance in the world of entrepreneurial business), you’re pretty much left to your own devices to find training in the art and science of this set of skills. The fact is, if you want to be a successful networker, you need to commit to lifelong learning on the subject of networking.
This may sound like a huge task at first, but it’s actually not as daunting as it sounds. The truth is, networking is something you can train for on the job–in fact, that’s the best way. By putting it into practice, you not only learn how to apply and fine-tune your approach, but you also build your business at the same time. In many ways, it’s less work and more fun than some of the traditional approaches to building your business.
What’s more, becoming a master networker is a journey, not a destination. You might reach the 29 percent of people who are truly connected by becoming a master networker, but that’s not the end of your efforts because a master networker is one who is constantly improving his or her skills and learning new ones. Now the challenge is to stay in the 29 percent and learn to secure your footing.
So in your never-ending journey toward peak networking performance, I recommend you do three things:
1. Keep reading.
There are hundreds of articles and dozens of books out there on networking, word-of-mouth marketing and referral marketing. I strongly recommend reading Bob Burg’s Endless Referrals, Susan RoAne’s How to Work a Room and The Secrets of Savvy Networking, Robyn Henderson’s Networking for $uccess, Bill Cates’ Unlimited Referrals, and Jan Vermeiren’s Let’s Connect. Some of my own books that will help you develop your networking skills are Truth or Delusion, The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret, Masters of Networking and Business by Referral.
2. Practice! Practice! Practice!
Find networking groups that believe in education as part of their regular meetings. If they help by guiding you, you can practice the networking ideas you are continuing to learn as you participate.
3. Seek out reputable training programs on networking.
I highly recommend the networking content on iLearningGlobal.tv, Brian Buffini’s referral training for the real estate industry, and the Referral Institute. Look also to your local business development and entrepreneur centers for workshops, experiential learning and in-depth training in networking and word-of-mouth marketing.
Lifelong learning continually sharpens and hones your skills. Would you trust the growth of your enterprise to someone who’s not skilled in one of the most effective ways to grow your business? Probably not. So take the initiative to continue your learning on the subject of networking by enrolling in a course, attending a workshop or reading the next book. Think about how the knowledge and skills you derive from these resources can continue to build and enhance your business by effective networking.
If you have a favorite educational resource on networking, please share it by leaving a comment.