It is a warm sunny day at Harborside GC. Four friends are teeing off for a relaxing round of golf. The day is full of good shots, bad shots and relaxed laughter. Well, with one exception. His day is not so great. Before each shot he thinks, “Feet slightly apart, knees bent, left arm straight, adjust grip, head slightly cocked to the right, take the club straight back on a parallel plain, follow through with the club head square at impact…” And splash, another ball in the water. More work than fun. Time for another beer!
His playing partners seem to have little trouble negotiating the course. They each stand up to the ball and just “grip it and rip it.” Their swings are effortless and enjoying the day is easy.
Networking has seemingly become more work than fun. After hundreds of dollars spent on lessons (seminars), countless how-to books read, and hours practicing the perfect 30 to 60 second elevator speech, off you go the network work. I sometimes think there are more keys to perfect networking than hitting a good golf shot.
I recently saw a headline for “Six Handshakes You Need to Know.” Really! I know one, firmly grip the other person’s hand and look them in the eye then say, “My name is…what’s yours.” It has always worked for me.
Today there are so many right ways to network “OK, which handshake do I use? Which 30 or 60 second elevator pitch? Do I need the 30 or 60 second? Who should talk first? OK, I’m trapped, what’s the best way to escape with the fewest strokes, I mean less time?”
With all of this, who can just relax and enjoy meeting new people?
But networking still can be fun. It is a chance to relax from a long day at the office (think driving range or nine holes after work). You’ll meet great and fascinating people, and some not so great people. You’ll make some lasting friendships, and also end up with a few business cards destined for the trash (think a nine iron next to the cup and a tee shot in the water).
Now, to be perfectly honest, I do need golf lessons (and a new driver, new irons, new shoes…). And I have watched and learned from the better networkers. But one thing I have learned about golf and networking, just relaxing, having fun and being you will lead to lower scores and greater friendships.
Now my 10 must do tips for perfect networking:
1. Practice good personal hygiene
2. Show up
3. Have goals in mind for the event
4. Smile, look the other person in the eye and shake hands
5. Let the other person talk first – you can then select what information you want to share
7. Seek to create new relationships, not large, useless rolodexes
9. Avoid martinis or heavy quantities of wine
10. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and keep the promises you make
And if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.