I was at Kroger again tonight and while I was pushing my cart around the store, gathering the ingredients for this evenings dinner, I was thinking about my other posts regarding the difficulties we’d been having developing an attachment to this new store and how that struggle mirrored similar struggles in networking. Then, as often happens, life handed me a nice big lesson without my even having to ask.

And this time it’s my fault.

More accurately, it’s my fault that we aren’t developing closer ties with the folks who work at this Kroger.

You see, this is a much more recently renovated grocery store than the one where we used to shop. I’m sure there are numerous improvements which I haven’t noticed, but the big one that comes to mind is this store offers “U-Scan” checkout lanes. For those who’ve not experienced this, these are checkout lanes where you do pretty much all the work for yourself — scanning, weighing, bagging, paying — only rarely interacting with one of the store personnel. Even on those times where you do need them, you only see them for a few seconds (they’re usually taking care of four to six different U-Scan lanes).

So, where I was decrying the lack of connection I felt for our new grocery store and blaming them for it, now I see that at least half of the problem lies at my door.

But what does that have to do with networking?

Simple. On the rare occasion where we walk out of a networking event feeling like it wasn’t worth our time, we really need first to examine our own behaviors. Did we show up early or wander in a few minutes late? Did we have a goal or were we networking aimlessly? Did we act like a host or wait to be served? Did we stand and chat or sit and eat?

Joe Marr, my sales coach once told me that the measure of our success is often how much we take responsibility for our own results. If you think about it, if we blame everyone and everything else, then we don’t have to do anything because we are helpless to change things. If we lay the responsibility at our own doorstep, then it’s up to us to find a way to make things better.

So, remember, creating and maintaining great relationships is what we do. All the benefits of a having a strong network are what we get for taking that responsibility.

Photo credit: Dave Di Biase