Look Outside the Bubble
As individuals, we get so wrapped up in our own life. Bills to pay, children to feed. Sometimes you forget that there is more to life than your own personal agenda.
Networking is an essential skill in any profession, and it's a skill that isn't too hard to master. A willingness to take interest in others is the most important requirement.
The job of a corporate entertainer is not just to show up at an event, do a show, then get outta Dodge. Going early, pressing the flesh, discovering who the individuals in the group are as well as what's important to them...THAT is an essential part of every booking. Not only does it help you do all the networking that every businessperson is familiar with - it ALSO gives you a wealth of "inside jokes" you have with your audience even though you met most of them that very day!
Even if you don't get any immediate tangible benefit from your interaction with folks, it has been my experience that you can learn something from each and every person around you. For example..
The Surreptitious Professor
Marlo and I were walking around the local market in Cozumel for lunch, and were trying to figure out whom to place our order with. We must have looked to be at a loss as to which of the multitude of servers milling about we could talk to about this, because a fellow wearing a t-shirt for a local dive shop offered to take care of it for us. Dennis, as it turns out, is a self-employed aquatics expert that spends up to six months per year on the island. I have been visiting Comzuel hundreds of times, so of course I thought myself to be well informed about everything on the island. Dennis helped increase my knowledge in subjects ranging from the best reefs for diving, to the best way to order my torta de conchinita, to communication with dolphins/eagle rays/nurse sharks through body language. So, as you can see, striking up conversations with even total strangers can yield so much!
Learn to Ask the Right Questions
Whether it's a corporate CEO, a peer in your field, or a potential client, when you are meeting someone for the first time and are talking about what they do, two questions that are guaranteed to help you learn their story are these:
1.What is the part of your job that you find most rewarding?"
2. Can you tell me more?
Getting others to talk (and learning to LISTEN) will not only get you further in your career, it will enhance your life in many (sometimes unexpected) ways.