Expert Advice On Business Networking And Tips On Developing Your Networking Skills

Networking As A Game By Josh Hinds

I’m going to say something that is far overdue…

Business is not meant to be boring! It’s not about waking up each morning, dreading starting the day — and putting on your fanciest outfit — making sure your shoes are polished to a T and just going through the motions day in and day out.

True, a lot of people see it this way… as something that’s needed to survive — a necessary evil if you will.

But it doesn’t have to be viewed this way. In fact, a lot of people (everyone I’ve interviewed here on BusinessNetworkingAdvice.com) don’t see their professional lives in this light.

So what’s the difference?

The difference my friend is found in their mindset. The same mindset I think you’ll have adopted for yourself by the time you’ve finished reading this 🙂

Ready? Good, onward! …

What will follow are some ideas you can implement to make business fun — particularly the aspect of networking (i.e. developing connections both personally and professionally).

I’m not going to get into a deep discussion about how to network effectively — that’s well covered in the countless interviews that I’ve conducted and include here.

However, it is worth pointing out that for our purposes we’ll say that effective networkers look to create solid relationships with others — by first focusing on how they can be of service to the person they want to create a connection with. Simply put, it’s not about, what they can get from the person, but rather how they can first (and going forward) create value and best serve the people they have connected with.

Still with me? Good — repeat after me please…

Business is fun when I adopt the mindset that each day I will look to create value in the eyes of those I’ve met, or wish to connect with. Got it? Make sure you commit that to memory because it’s the whole point of what I’m about to get into, and it will actually have a bearing on how much fun you start to have in your business or professional life going forward.

Playing The Part Of The Connector

There’s an important aspect in networking referred to as being a connector — think of it like this… You can connect someone in a number of different ways. A few examples might include: introducing someone to someone else where there would be some synergy there and where the two folks would benefit from meeting each other.

Another approach might be to supply some valuable information to someone that they would appreciate. This could be in the form of a book, some industry related knowledge, maybe you know they have a hobby — you could supply information related to that, the point is you’re creating value in the eyes of the other person.

And… pay attention because this is a BIG “and”… you’re connecting them for their benefit and not yours! Some folks can’t get around this concept. It’s like they’ve been trained to think they have to “get theirs” first. Those who are adept at the art of effective networking understand that the exact opposite is true.

You don’t have to believe this yourself — but you do have to practice it as though it’s true. As you put this idea into practice you’ll see the reality of it unfold in your life — and that’s a promise! (I speak, train and coach on networking and I can assure you I’ve seen this idea to be proven true countless times).

So here are some games I want you to play each day… yes I did say play! Remember, business is fun. Not boring!

Networking Reminder Cards

I love 3×5 index cards. I keep my goals on them, action steps (lists of things to do) — new folks I’ve met (before I load them into my Contact Management Solution — by the way at the time of this writing I’m using Oprius.com). I also use what is called a universal binder clip — if you don’t know what that is do a search on it and you’ll immediately recognize it.

I like that particular clip because it holds the cards nice and snug, and if you place it on the card just right it’ll even let you stand your 3×5 index cards up. But enough about the cards and clip 🙂

Give me the steps to the Networking Game already…

So you take your 3×5 index card and on it you write the name of one person you’ve met. It really doesn’t even matter how well you know that person. In fact, it’ll just help to strengthen the relationship with them anyway if you don’t know them that well already.

So you’ve got the persons name written down on your card (include their business name and what they do if it’s applicable).

On the next line, write — “I’m having fun in business by connecting this person to:”

Then following that statement you choose another person you’ve met who you feel would be a good connection for the first person you identified. If you’re going the route of connecting the person to a valuable source of information — or even a referral source of new business just write the same thing, but include what your providing rather than the other persons name.

The most important thing is that you actually do this. And of course that you act on what you’ve written on your cards.

Now I can tell you, several things are going to happen. First, you really will start to have more fun in your business or career. If you doubt me, think about how good it makes you feel to do something nice for another person. The same holds true in business. And that’s exactly what you’re doing. Creating value for other folks.

Another thing you’ll notice is that people are drawn to you — and why wouldn’t they be? After all you’re doing what 99% of the other people they’re coming into contact with aren’t doing — putting the focus on helping them.

Just to spice up the idea above, on the back of each card write down the results you get as they unfold. Just so we’re clear, we’re not keeping score on the good we’ve done. Rather we’re recording the results because they will make it clear that the game we’ve played worked.

There’s an old saying I love which says, success begets success. What that means to me is that a feeling of achievement creates a snowball effect and ends up propelling us forward in our pursuits and endeavors. The same can happen when we’re hit with something negative — it can have the effect of slowing us down (or if we’re not careful — stopping us completely).

So you track your results from the game you’re playing so that you can experience that feeling of success — the helpful reminder that what you’re doing is creating positive results.

Once again, repeat after me…

Business is fun!

Now get out there and start making it so…

Happy Networking — and remember…

It’s your life, LIVE BIG!
Josh Hinds 🙂

* Josh is a speaker, trainer and coach who teaches on Effective Networking and Personal Branding. To learn more about having him speak to your organization visit www.GetMotivation.com/speaker

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  • Bill Vick

    Great advice and something that strikes home. Love the 3X5 idea. Sounds like Merlin Manns Hipster PDA idea from GTD and I’m putting it into practice.

    Bill

    Bill Vick
    author: LinkedIn For Recruiting

  • Josh Hinds

    Bill, thanks for the kudos on the article. Glad you found the advice helpful 🙂

    Gotta’ love Merlin Mann’s Hipster PDA idea don’t ya’?

    Btw. a while back I interviewed Merlin Mann here on the site if you’d like to check it out.

    Appreciatively, Josh 🙂

  • Josh,nnI LOVE the idea of the game.u00a0 The very simplicity of it is the very reason why it will be extremely effective. u00a0 Too often in business and in our networking efforts, we make things more difficult than they need to be.nnSo many people dread networking, let alone the day-to-day routines of business, and this is a fantastic way to get people motivated while they create value for others.nnBravo!nnTim HoustonnAuthor of The Top 3 Amazon Bestseller, The World’s Worst Networkernwww.worldsworstnetworker.com

  • Tim, thanks for your note. You make some great points my friend! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and valuable feedback here in our community :-)nn-Josh