But it doesn’t come naturally to most of us. In my own career, I’ve had to work hard to overcome an inherent preference for fewer friends and the tendency to stay in my own quiet office instead of getting out there and mixing it up with the folks who can help me succeed.
But as my career developed I learned to watch and imitate the people who I could see were the gifted networkers. They were the ones who were comfortable with anyone, who made everyone they met feel instantly comfortable, welcome and important. It was obvious that I needed to watch these folks because they were the ones landing all the clients. And I learned early that power goes to those who bring in work!
The more I watched them, the more I realized that, for some, the skill of comfortable networking hadn’t come naturally either. Turns out that many of those who appear to be naturally comfortable, gregarious networkers, have had to learn, study and practice the art of business networking before they were able to master it.
And that’s the key to success for the rest of us.
You’ve heard the term, “Fake it till you make it?” Well it turns out that if we find a Master networker, observe them, question them, and follow them around, we can start to imitate them. And the more we observe and imitate, the more comfortable we become with the same skills, same habits and same behaviors as they have.
Over the years I’ve observed these people carefully and worked hard to make a habit of doing what they do. And I’ve found that, when I imitate these masters of networking, I get the same business development results they do. I get the same, abundant supply of profitable work.
When we were kids we loved to play ‘Pretend.’ Whether it was Princesses, Pirates, Spacemen or Wonder Woman, we would dress up and, for that afternoon, we were convinced that we’d been transformed into someone else. When you ‘pretend’ to be a great networker for an hour, it might be uncomfortable. But if you do it again for an hour next week, and two hours the week after, it gets easier and you’re more convinced about the charade. Pretend long enough and one day you’ll realize that you aren’t pretending anymore.
I’ve been watching these rare Masters for more than 25 years now. And, like all champions, they make it look easy. But I’ve found that, when I simply do what they do, it really is much easier than it first seemed.