When I’m talking to people about good networking habits, I’ll often hear them say, “Yeah, it’s easy for you. You’re a natural networker. You’re a real extrovert.”

Bzzzt! Thank you for playing. Please try again sometime. Johnny, do we have any lovely parting gifts for our contestant?

I am a computer programmer by training. Almost by definition that means when I am feeling extroverted, I’m looking at your shoes when I’m speaking with you. Now, over time, with practice, I’ve managed to become more outgoing, but I’ve never been someone who sought out large crowds of people because I thrive on that kind of energy.

Mostly my success as a networker comes from the techniques I’ve learned and developed and started to practice. I’m really not imaginative enough to make this stuff up on the fly.

I also don’t have this stuff down to the point that I do it every day without fail. Somedays I don’t get around to making a call or two. Heck, some days I barely respond to email. Business happens.

Despite that, though, I know that the measure of my success is the level to which I am achieving my networking goals. I know because I’ve measured it. The challenge is, with networking, there’s a delayed response. Skipping a week or two of networking now doesn’t have an immediate effect. It might not show up for a months.

The trick I’ve found with keeping myself on track is to re-affirm those goals each day. Missing yesterday doesn’t matter so long as I’m willing to dust myself off and get busy today. For example, if I’ve fallen behind in my tickler file, all I have to do is re-organize it and I am ready to go again.

Oh, and for those who are wondering, I’m not sure such a thing as a “natural networker” actually exists. At some point in our lives we had to learn to care about other people. Don’t believe me? Look at the nearest child under two. They are the centers of their own little universes and no one else exists but to serve their desires.

So, if you’ve fallen off the networking bandwagon, absolve yourself of your sins and hop right back on. There’s always room for more reformed sinners.

And it makes the ride a heck of a lot more fun.

Photo credit: rabble