When I was younger, I thought of networking as a necessary albeit a disingenuous method to further my career, foster client relationships, or garner new business. Networking was typified by the Wednesday night open bar meeting of an industry group, and I would show up armed with rote phrases and a pocketful of business cards. However, as I matured and gained experience, my perspective on networking drastically changed. While successful networking still leads to the end results mentioned above, I no longer view networking as insincere or bothersome. Networking is simply relationship building. Itas meeting new people and staying in touch with others. Networking is an exchange of ideas and knowledge. It can lead to career and personal growth. Even valued friendships can develop from networking. I have listed 3 perspectives that I believe are important to ensure you are actually building meaningful business relationships.

  1. Never keep score when working within your network. It should never be about awhat have you done for me latelya. The goal is to provide service to others. If you canat provide the assistance they need, than introduce them to someone who can. When you provide someone with something they need, a natural relationship is forged and business opportunities will eventually present themselves.
  2. Get involved. Donat expect your network to blossom just by joining an industry group. You must be involved with the workings of any organization that you are a member of. Actual involvement allows you to work with others and to display your skill set. It also provides you with more exposure to be noticed and recognized by others. This can lead to opportunities to build new relationships within a large circle of people.
  3. Donat be invisible. The whole idea of networking is to be proactive. Approach new people who could potentially be part of your network, and donat neglect those already within your network. Cultivate the relationships you have started, and randomly check in with current members of your network. No one wants to be contacted solely because someone needs something from him or her. Modern technology makes this so easy to do.

When these approaches to networking become intrinsic, genuine relationships willA multiply and strengthen. Like-minded people will be excited to help those within their network excel. So act more selflessly, spark up conversations, get involved, check in with people, and hand out fewer business cards.