When you first begin to network, it’s okay to dabble… short-term. It can fuel your creativity. This sense of curiosity is important as you test the waters and begin to check out what networking is about and how it can work for you. Dabbling is simply a way of gathering new information and experimenting with new ways of doing something with it.
Clarity comes from engagement. Dabbling is a form of engagement. You get to look at and try out a variety of ways to network – some work – others don’t and watch how others do it. Dabbling long-term is a mistake.
It is wise to focus on the successful networkers – never the ones who hand you their business card (whether you asked for it or not) and solicit your business. They have no plan other than to meet people, tell them what they do, and see if that person may want to buy something. That is not the path to building a long-term, networking relationship.
It takes time for networking to begin to work. It requires an investment of time. Time to learn the ropes. Time to make new friends and develop new relationships.
Don’t be a quitter. Many people carry dabbling in networking to an extreme. They continue to just dabble and never quite move out of that stage. If you never begin to take networking seriously, you may be like many others, who start networking and eventually quit because they have not learned the discipline of finishing what they start.
Many never begin networking until their boss is on their butt to produce more sales. They come across as desperate – and most often they are – and to other networkers appear to be only a taker not a giver. To them networking is a hopeless sense that the situation is so bad as to be impossible to deal with. They describe their networking activities as unproductive, uncomfortable, a waste of time. And they quit!
Strategic networking offers you a way to change that, increasing your rewards, success, adding more meaning in your business and your life.
Networking is the art of connection. It requires the discipline to get out of your comfort zone and learn the techniques that successful networkers employ. There is much more to networking than attending a meeting, and collecting stacks of business cards. I repeat, it takes time to build a network. Your goal cannot be instant gratification because you will not find it when networking.
Smart salespeople who network don’t do all the talking, they have learned to ask questions and really listen to the answers. They get to know the person they are talking with by listening and internally thinking of ways that they can help them. That is the beginning of a new relationship.
If you’re creative and ambitious you will be a few steps ahead of others because you understand the concept of expecting good things to happen and have a knack of discovering ways to make things happen.
Education about networking can never be over emphasized. It is critical to your success. Study every networking tool. Expand your network. Learn from the networking leaders, read networking books, enroll in networking training and make it a habit to learn something new about networking every week. (If you are smart, you will share what you have learned with others in your network). Stay focused. No excuses. I have been actively networking for many years and I will admit that I do not know everything there is to know about business networking. I promised myself years ago that I would continue to learn and pass what I learned on to others interested in networking.
Although dabbling can lead to incredible innovation, it only works when you exercise your creativity and take what you have learned and do something different with it. You cannot continue to dabble in networking. If you do, you will see little to no results. People will assume you are either not serious, and are only there to make a quick buck, or forget you entirely.
You cannot continue to be a dabbler and succeed. Either do networking all the way, or don’t do it at all!
Once your dabbling days are done… it’s time to get serious about learning all you can about networking. Don’t just test the networking waters… jump in and make some waves! When you see other networkers doing great, let that drive you. Let that build your belief in knowing that you can do the same thing.
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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