What’s the old definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, right? When I wrote about my attempts to ring the bell on the carnival game last time, don’t think I took the “insane” path. Every time I went up, I changed my approach. I shifted my stance or changed my grip. Some of the methods act as good lessons in networking, too.

Lesson #1: It won’t be easy at first. Do it anyway. I had never done the “ring the bell” game before. I was not even close to successful the first time I tried. The first time you try networking, you will feel awkward and uncomfortable, but you have to go through it to get better

Lesson #2: Use the knowledge you already have. Some of the same concepts of board- and slab-breaking I’ve used in the past were useful to swinging the big hammer. I applied those and saw an immediate improvement. When it comes to networking, you’ve undoubtedly interacted with other human beings before. How did you meet your best friends and how did you treat them? Use those same techniques to improve your networking skills immediately.

Lesson #3: Learn from others. Every time I waited in line I would watch those who were also trying to ring the bell. I watched their stances and how they gripped the hammer. Most important, I would see whether they were successful. When you are out networking. Look around for the folks who seem to know everyone (especially those whom everyone knows). They might be a good person to follow and observe. Maybe you could even ask them some of the techniques they use.

Lesson #4: Keep trying. We talked about this last time. I didn’t just show up, whack the target once, and then give it all up as a bad show. I tried it time after time — each time adjusting my technique. The same holds in networking. It’s the consistency that pays off in the long run. You can’t improve if you don’t keep coming back.

Lesson #5: Take a break (every once in a while). After the first day of “improving” — without an actual success — my muscles were getting a bit tired and sore. I took a break overnight and came back the next day. That’s when I finally succeeded. In networking, you need to pace yourself. Again, consistency, not intensity is the rule of the day. You want to avoid “networking fatigue”. To that end, one event a week for a month (with appropriate follow up) is far better than an event every day for a week.

If you want to bottom-line it: Consistent effort and consistent improvement will be what makes a difference in your networking as with just about any other part of your life. Keep trying and you can ring your networking bell.

Photo by Flickr user crabchick