Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Networking: A Crash Course in Personal Development

There is a multitude of things you can learn about yourself, others who network and personal growth when you are an active networker. How is networking a crash course in personal development? If you pay attention, you can learn to be a better you. You can also learn from others how “not” to network.

Your business will only grow as fast as you grow! If you have spent some time on your personal growth, you learn very quickly to look for a solution to a problem rather than giving up. Personal growth is about expanding your horizons and enjoying what you do so you can achieve more of what you want. Personal development and growth is rarely thought of in terms of business, but this is changing.

Personal growth is not something that can be rushed. It is not a technique or tool to make a quick fix. Personal growth is the attitude you have that you are constantly improving your life. Personal growth is driven by your desire to constantly improve yourself and to become the person that you were meant to be.

Many people think business networking is just about mailing out brochures or circulating around a meeting room and handing out business cards, but it is really about building long-lasting, personal relationships over time. Because networking is about building and maintaining relationships, credibility is a key element. Helping others is one sure-fire way to establish credibility. New contacts won’t necessarily start sending business your way or give you referrals until they know you better. Networking will teach you patience. Networking like personal growth cannot be rushed.

Networking requires you to grow personally and get out of your comfort zone. I challenge you to hold in high regard the value of personal development.

Becoming the best you can be so as to accelerate with impact your business and personal growth should be high on your priority list. The brief ideas listed below will assist you to fulfill several objectives to improve the quality of your life and to help your achieve maximum results when networking and. . . we have only scratched the surface.

I suppose we could begin by saying that you must treat others like you like to be treated. Networking and personal growth are intertwined. One supports the other. The better person you become, the better the odds of being more successful, not just in networking but in relationships and everything.

What you seek with these methods of personal development is to create a new way of living. To be happy. To make new connections and to grow your business. But your mind deceives you. It convinces you to stop trying to create change because its happy in it’s misery. It knows that cherished self deceptions will have to be released. The process of personal development and growth will help.

Networking with other people is a powerful process, and can be an integral part of your success. I believe it is important to seek out groups that not only give you the opportunity to network but offer educational opportunities as well as support from other members. Does your group encourage personal growth?

Get the support and validation you need. Find a mentor; someone who will take you under his/her wings and teach you the networking ropes. Book a breakfast or lunch with someone who has been effectively networking for a long time and pick their brain. Learn the do’s and don’ts from the experts. Without the necessary support, it’s very easy for individual differences and preferences to come in, thereby diluting the correct way to network and even corrupting it. Hire a networking coach.

He that won’t be counseled can’t be helped – Benjamin Franklin

Look for the people in the group who lean more to the positive side. As my friend, Zig Ziglar said, “Beware of those with stinkin’ thinking!” It is no longer possible to deny the fact that positive thinking benefits everyone, regardless of their goals. If “know how” is one of your weaknesses, follow people who know how. People who complain, who are always looking at the dark side of things eventually will pull you down to their level. Not good.

Watch how the “movers and shakers” network. Emulate their style and actions. It may feel awkward at first, however the more you hone your skills the better you will become at accomplishing what you need to do to be an effective networker. By the way, contrary to popular belief, practice does not make you perfect. It only makes you better.

Build rapport by connecting with people when you don’t need anything. It makes it easier to be as ease when talking with them and will help you develop a much closer business relationship. Not good at building rapport? Learn how. Watch others. Read books about it. Do a Google search for “How to Build Rapport” and see what comes up. After you’ve met someone knowledgeable and interesting, send a quick e-mail or a handwritten note saying how much you enjoyed meeting them. If you want to learn more from him or her, propose lunch or coffee and remember to follow up.

Many years ago the Dale Carnagie course taught me that if you do the thing you fear the most, the death of fear is certain. Some say it takes 21 to 30 days to develop a new habit. Afraid to speak in public? Get over it. Feel the fear and do it anyway. When networking you “must” learn to speak in public! You need to tell how you can assist others, talk about your business and more or you are likely to become a wallflower and nothing good will happen.

Develop a good “30-second connection,” often called an “elevator speech.” It’s a brief summary of who you are and what you do professionally. Practice in front of a mirror until you feel comfortable enough that you can deliver it without stumbling, becoming distracted or getting off track. When given the opportunity to introduce yourself, jump up first. Put yourself out there. The second time you introduce yourself in this way will be a little easier.

Learn how to recover from your mistakes. Everyone makes them. Just remember to never put yourself down when you do. Look for a solution that will make it work next time. Mistakes can be the very things that lead you in the new direction that turns out to be the better way than you had previously believed. What is inspiring about life is that we always have the choice to learn from our past mistakes as well as our successes.

Be creative. Ask yourself, “how can I make networking fun?” then go about coming up with creative ideas to make it fun and make others smile. Look for the funny side of things and reward yourself with laughter. Laughing opens up both your mind and your heart and restores the quality of your thinking.

If you have not quite got the hang of setting effective goals, begin now. Set some networking goals. Occasionally revisit your “why.” Why am I doing this? What do I want to accomplishment? How many new friends can you make in 30 days? Having a specific intention makes it easier. The very concept of intention implies that you are intent on doing something. It’s a statement of fact to our own subconscious mind that you are ready and willing to take action. New directions unfold when you exercise the power of intention. Getting clear on who you are and what you really want is a requirement for business and networking success.

“To understand the Heart and Mind of a person, look not at what they have achieved already, but at what they Aspire to do” – Kahlil Gibran

Learn persistence. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Learn the difference between being persistent and being aggressive.

Master self-confidence. If you continue to loathe and belittle yourself, others are going to do and believe likewise. Personal growth is not “just” about achieving confidence, although that is a big part of this process. This new freedom and confidence are like a snowball that keeps growing as you continue to roll it. You will start to see personal development in many other areas of your life. You will begin to appreciate yourself and as a result and others will appreciate you. There’s no quick fix. Be patient. Do something everyday that will help you to build your self-confidence.

When you’re feeling insecure, write down a list of things that are good about you. Identify your successes. Then read the list – out loud – in front of a mirror to yourself. Watch yourself smile! Everyone is good at something, so discover the things at which you excel. You will be surprised at all the good stuff you can come up with. Recognize your insecurities. Work to overcome them. Remember, no one is perfect. Even the most confident people have occasional insecurities. If you don’t believe in yourself, find someone who does and hang around them until what they have rubs off on you.

When you’re following your passion – what you truly believe in – not only will it have a therapeutic effect on you, but you will feel special, unique and accomplished, all of which can help build your self confidence.

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” – Mark Victor Hansen

Accept compliments gracefully. Don’t roll your eyes and say, “Yeah, right,” or shrug it off. Learn to say say “Thank You” when someone says something good about you. Never say, “Oh, it’s nothing. Anyone could have done that?” Practice accepting praise sincerely without adding excuses. A simple “Thank you” will do.

If you’re smart you will find that networking will sharpen your listening skills. Opportunity isn’t always obvious. Watch for it and listen for it. Stop talking so much and begin listening more.

Read good books. Not a reader? Become one. Don’t just read books about your business. Read networking book, books on self-promotion, marketing, personal development and more. If you only read for about 15 minutes each day you can read at least 15 average sized books a year. Don’t tell me you can’t spare 15 minutes a day to become a better you. Reading will help you develop a strong belief system. Become a self-help junkie!

You can listen to tapes, CDs, read articles, watch videos of people who may inspire you and motivate you. The internet has an abundance of books and videos you can watch and read for free. Do a search on YouTube.

If you watched “The Secret” DVD a few years ago, you would know something about the Law of Attraction. Some think this is “woo-woo.” I know it works. The law of attraction states “that which is like unto itself is drawn”. This means we all get whatever we think about, whether it’s something we want or something we don’t want. If you read more about this law and learn more about getting what you want, this could lead you to becoming more successful in all areas of your life.

If you think that business networking is all about the money, think again. Most of those who have succeeded in networking find that they gain more from learning new skills and meeting new people than anything else. Personal growth will make you a better and more confident person who feels comfortable with yourself. Once you feel comfortable with who you are then you will start to attract those people who will help you and support you in building your business.

And finally, reflect often on your successes. It helps develop your sense of well being.

BONUS Article: Read, “Personal Development and Growth for Business and Higher Pursuits.”


Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Can’t find my book in your bookstore, order a signed copy from Larry James. Visit Larry’s “Networking HQ” Website; articles, tips, networking books and more!

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. –

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  1. […] BONUS Article: “Networking: A Crash Course in Personal Development“ […]

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