I’ve been training in the martial arts for about thirteen years now. In that time I’ve learned a thing or two. Sometimes that lesson happened at the same time as someone’s foot connecting to the side of my head.

If you can avoid lessons like that, I highly recommend it.

One of the hardest things for new practitioners to realize is that, when you are sparring, you don’t watch the other person’s hands. Their hands can lie to you. While you are focusing on them, their feet are probably preparing to do something relatively unpleasant (see the above-mentioned lessons to avoid). For the same reason, you don’t want to focus on their feet or even their eyes. They can all lie to you and lead you into an “unsuccessful” sparring round.

The best spot to rest your eyes is usually somewhere between the shoulders and the solar plexus (that soft spot right below your sternum). Almost every action they will take shows up there first. All of the power they will wield in their extremities comes from that core.

So, what does that have to do with networking?

When inexperienced networkers first practice the “art” of networking, they tend to focus on the “extremities”. They try to get a referral or a sale when they attend the networking event. They focus on what they are going to say or do. That focus tends to bring “unsuccessful” results. Just as in sparring, the successful networker focuses on the core…

…the relationship.

In networking everything extends from the relationships we build. The referrals and sales, the introductions and recommendations, they all first start with someone saying hello and then showing they truly care about the people around them.

So, while a poor focus at a networking event is unlikely to result in a boot to the head, it also won’t result in us scoring any points toward our long-term success. If we focus first on the fundamental of relationship development, the desired results will follow naturally.

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