Gee, do you think he
practiced that?

“I’ve always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.”
~ Will Smith

At the end of our advanced Karate class last night, the instructor had us all sit down in our best seated splits. Looking around at the other students — all in their early teens — he commented that this was a weak area for them. He then pointed out that the “old guy” (me) had a lot more flexibility than they did. The reason? Because I practiced it.

Of course, these young students had the advantage of me in other areas. Most of them can do way more pushups than I can — because that’s what they practice.

To be a well-rounded martial artist, though, we all need to be aware of our weak areas and pay at least enough attention to them in order to prevent them from limiting us. We need to practice.

The same thing happens in networking.

Some people love attending the networking event. They can strike up a conversation with anyone. Where they are weak is in the follow-up. All of ther relationships are only five minutes deep. Others are great at the one-to-one interactions, but throw them in a room of strangers and they retreat to the corner of the room and wait for the whole thing to be over.

Just as in the martial arts, we need to be aware of our weaknesses and practice them at least enough that they won’t limit us.

Here are a few of the skills you’ll need as a real networker. How would you grade yourself on each one? For those that are low grades, how could you practice?

  • Choosing appropriate events
  • Showing up at appropriate events
  • Starting a conversation
  • Continuing a conversation
  • Gracefully ending a conversation
  • Following up with potential connections
  • Developing long-term professional relationships
  • Maintaining long-term professional relationships
  • Passing referrals
  • Asking for referrals

Remember, no one is a natural at this. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. So how does your report card stack up? Where might you focus some attention to bring your networking practice up to the next level?

And when are you going to start?

Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Eriseyes