Bad Networking Is Like Food Poisoning For Your Business

Ooooooo  – what an ominous title. Is she going to regale us with tales of vomiting and diarrhea that never ended? Is she going to share the woes of gastroenteritis caused by gluttony? Is she going to ever stop illustrating the various ways this topic could go really wrong and get to the point? Yup! Sometimes it takes a little while to get the right diagnosis for a problem. With a little investigating and professional support you can usually solve the problem. If you don’t, well, you might find yourself in a bit of a jam in more ways that one.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve had a tummy bug. Now you couldn’t see that title and not expect some kind of gastro reference could you? Anyway. I couldn’t figure out what this bug was. So after a week of trying to figure it out on my own, I went to see my naturopath. My naturopath had already tested me for food sensitivities and I thought my issue might be food intolerance related. We agreed that removing wheat again might be a good idea and added some other therapies. I thought the problem was solved. Nope.

What I noticed was that although I did feel better without wheat, I was still having some issues. It took me a day or two more to finger the culprit (don’t be dirty): bad jam. Yup. I had bought some sugar free jam on sale and didn’t realize how far past the expiration date it was and heck, it’s jam. What harm can it do? Turns out lots. LOTS. So in addition to committing to being wheat free I’ve also committed to not buying 6 month expired jam and crossing my fingers that all would work out well. Needless to say I’m now a bit sensitive about what I eat and it was a brush with a bad appetizer while networking on Wednesday that got me to thinking about this post.

What does my gastro dilemma have to do with networking? Well here’s my thinking: People sometimes struggle with networking and they can’t figure out what is going on. They go to the events. They wear the name tag. They dress appropriately. They bring business cards. All the while, they are poisoning their chances of business success because they haven’t figured out that their lack of networking success is indicative of an underlying issue. Some bad jam if you will. What could this bad networking jam be? Anything from lack of confidence to targeting the wrong audience. It could be needing to work on people reading skills and maybe not recognizing that a 20 minute diatribe on why networking isn’t working might not be the best idea during a networking event. Add some bad breath or f-bombs in the conversation and you’ve got yourself in a bad jam my friend.

It’s really important to be constantly evaluating what you are getting out of networking and what you are putting in. If you only go to one particular group all the time, you are limiting yourself. Who wants strawberry jam ALL the time? You’ll flood that group and quickly run out of new connections. You need to broaden your scope and spend some time searching out other groups that will expose you to new people and new people to you. I’d also suggest taking the time to peruse YouTube for networking videos that give you tips and tricks you might not have thought of to improve your networking performance. One of my favorites is Maria Folero. Not only is she freaking funny her advice is practical and easy to use. Need some hands on resources? James Burchill wrote a great networking cheat sheet that can help anyone navigate the sticky waters of networking.

So what’s my point? Just like you wouldn’t let a health issue fester and get out of control, you shouldn’t let your networking go untreated. Networking skills need attention. They need to be honed. And if you notice that you are struggling, then seek professional help or a trusted fellow networker. They will provide you with honest feedback and constructive tips that will make you feel more comfortable and get you out of most networking jams that you might find yourself in. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know some great networkers and sometimes I just sit back and watch them in action. It’s inspiring. Networking is vital to your business health and letting skills needed to be successful expire is just going to get you in to one bad jam after another.

Yours in health.

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