I heaved the large mallet over my head and with all my strength brought it crashing down on the target. As I lifted my head I could see the small weight hurtling up the track only to slow and then stop about a foot away from the bell.

Failed again.

We spent the Fourth of July holiday at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island this year. Part of the festivities included a multi-day children’s carnival out on the grounds of the hotel. In addition to the various games for the younger attendees, there were a few events for us big guys, including the traditional strong-man game where you hit the target with the big hammer and try to ring the bell. Six times I tried and six times I failed.

This can happen in our networking.

You go to a networking event. Or two. Or three. You try to connect with the people you meet and at the end of it all, you come up empty. It feels like a huge waste of time. For those who only network once in a while, it is a waste of time. After all, their inconsistent behavior means that they have to make great connections every single time.

Unfortunately, that same behavior makes reliable success a lot more difficult.

For those who do maintain a consistent behavior of networking, though, a “failed” event is no more than a mild disappointment. See, they know that showing up and participating is a success in its own right and it will create results in the long run. Just because they don’t make the perfect connection now doesn’t mean there aren’t connections to make next time.

Oh, and that carnival game? The next day, after a few practice swings, I hit the target dead on and heard that sweet “Clang!” telling me I’d won — and I have the ugly rubber duck prize to prove it.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons user JohnsonL623