I’m constantly amazed at the number of relatively commonplace activities that mirror or point to important concepts of a good networking practice. Take campfires, for example.
A few times over the course of the summer, we’ll have a little campfire in the backyard. The girls love it. We’ll roast hot dogs, drink lemonade, and, of course, make s’mores. The center of the whole process, not surprisingly, is the fire.
What does that have to do with networking?
Well, just like networking, the fire requires a lot of effort at first — effort which seemingly grants us little return on the investment. We’ve got to clear the fire pit, gather the wood, find kindling, build the fire, light the tinder, coax it and feed it and occasionally fan the little flames to encourage them to grow. Only then do we get a chance to sit back to enjoy the fruits of all this labor.
With networking we have to put in a lot of effort at first. We’ve got to find good venues for our networking, attend the events, meet new people, find those who we can help, meet for coffee, develop the relationship, and occasionally go out of our way to help those we’ve just met. Only after we’ve grown the network and served those around us, do we get a chance to sit back and enjoy the fruits of all this labor.
Those who don’t understand this natural process tend to get frustrated that they aren’t seeing the results they want from their networking. Of course, that’s like getting frustrated that a stack of wood isn’t giving off warmth. We’ve forgotten that we are the ones who have to provide the spark to get things going.