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!