A lot of people tell me that I just don’t understand how difficult it is for them to get out and network. After all I’m such a naturally outgoing person.
It’s about at this point that I remind them that I am a computer programmer by training — a training which did not include how to interact with the rest of humanity. I had to work to develop my skills and I continue to strengthen and refine them all the time. It’s the only way I can see to keep and continue to grow a strong network.
We all make assumptions about networking. We see someone at all of the events and think “Wow! They sure are a great networker!” Of course, we might also find out that they don’t ever follow up on the connections they start.
We might see someone whom everyone seems to know by name. Surely they’re a great networker, right? Maybe. Of course, if they don’t know anyone else’s name, then the networking is only going one way. Or maybe they do know everyone’s name, but if everyone doesn’t also know that person’s business, goals, and who would be their perfect client, then their network isn’t going to be very effective at achieving their goals.
All we can see are the networking techniques that these folks bring to the events. If they aren’t practicing the stuff that goes on before and after, though, then they probably aren’t getting much out of attending the events. That being the case, they’ll likely stop showing up at all in fairly short order.
These are the incomplete networkers. They’ve developed one or two of the concepts of a good networking practice, but they haven’t quite got them all down yet. Now, provided that they continue to develop their skills, they aren’t at a dead end. They do have to make that continuing effort to improve, though, or their networks will remain weak and stunted in comparison to what they could be.
And that’s not likely to lead to success on either a personal or professional scope.
Photo credit: V. Flores