How to get the best from networking

Play fair
This means not cheating. Don’t use shortcuts that harm your friends or cheat them out of their rewards. When networking for your business always be fair –don’t ruin it for everyone else.

Be kind
Kindness matters. Kindness is shown in a number of ways one important way is with gift giving. Kindness dictates that you return the favour when they need help.  Networking is an interpersonal relationship. You bounce things off of each other and respect each other enough to stay civil.

When you share with people who want to know what you are upto it is a good thing. However, when you could care less it gets to be a bit annoying. Email doesn’t own the market on Spam; sometimes you get it via phone calls, text messages, at meetings, groups and even church. Scale down your pitch, limit it to just under two minutes and only share it with those who are truly interested – they will ask.

Help out
Initially you might help because it benefits you but eventually you’ll help because you are reciprocating the help you receive from your friends. It’s kind of like a dance. Each of you participate in assisting each other out.

Think how this would look if you had a special circle of business contacts where you could help each other move forward in business. It would be great right? This is what the heart of networking is. It is why many successful entrepreneurs are part of mastermind groups. It’s not an “I’ll pat your back, you pat mine” relationship – rather it is truly knowing your circle so well that you want to help them succeed.

Visit your neighbours
You can’t expect to receive all the time without giving.  Part of business networking is caring enough to meet up with your fellow business owners. Chat over a cup of coffee, attend conferences together, or have a  five minute conversation on the phone. Don’t push a sale on them rather find out what they need to move forward. Maybe your associate needs to delegate a task but doesn’t know where to start. You happen to know someone who caters to home business owners and hand over a recommendation. This is networking. It’s not about landing your next sale or next contract.

Work hard
What’s the average time a gamer spends on sites like Facebook playing Farmville or Mafia Wars? It is serious business for them. The key point to take away from this is that business networking is work – it takes time to develop the kind of relationship you want and need to catapult your business into a money making machine. Five minute encounters exchanging business cards and a sales pitch won’t work.

Show up often
You can’t expect to attend a networking event, collect a binder of cards and expect that ‘networking’ be over. No, you must show up by actually contacting the people that benefit your business or that you can help move onward.

Call them, set up networking appointments, chat, send an email and write notes. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to meet someone that you feel an immediate connection to. All too often though, it takes work to build that relationship.

The skills that you learn from interacting with peers and being kind and helpful to others is what builds the kind of relationship you need to move your business forward.

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