This is a guest post from Gary Johannes, an amazing networking colleague of mine, 4Networking Regional Leader for the Eastern Region, Bartercard representative, and the man leading the inspiring BRAVE challenge for children with spinal injuries.  Follow his training, fundraising and charismatic view of life

Because of the work I do, and the number of people I meet, one of the questions put to me on an almost weekly basis is this: “Networking doesn’t work, does it?”

biz cardAnd the simple answer? “Yes, actually, it does.” In fact, it also works for the majority of the hundreds of people I meet every month.

But, of course, some of the people I come across would give a resolutely negative answer to the same question.

When I find myself chatting someone who is disillusioned by networking, and firmly believes it simply doesn’t work for them and never will, I generally come to the same conclusion: they don’t ‘get’ networking. They’ve got a skewed view of how it works and what it’s for, and that’s letting them down.

Rule no. 1 – Be likeable. People relate to humans, not walking sales brochures

For me, making networking work for you starts with some basics that are applicable to any area of your life. So, I treat people with respect and I talk to them as people, not prospects. No one likes to find themselves cornered at a social event, being sold to as if they were in a car showroom. It’s a turn off. Instead, I’m friendly and I take an interest in the other person – sometimes what I do barely comes up.

Why? Because having a person like you is far more valuable than winning a business lead there and then.

Rule no. 2 – People are valuable. Nurture and protect your assets

If you’re an astute business person, you’ll realise that having lots of contacts in lots of industries doesn’t just give you more chance of winning referrals, it also makes you more valuable to your clients.

How? Well from time to time, your clients will ask you if you know a good wed developer / plumber / financial adviser. The more tuned in you are to the range of providers out here and the quality of their offerings, the more valuable you are to your client as a resource.

Rule no. 3 – Trust is everything. Stay honest

In networking circles, people applaud great work, they offer testimonials and they recommend great providers – it’s all part of the process. But keep letting customers down, and recommendations will quickly dry up.

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver on, don’t go into a meeting trying to be something you’re not, and never, ever lie to win a recommendation, because it will come back to haunt you, and you’ll miss out on more than you ever gained. Networking, after all, is all about trust.

Rule no. 4 – Commit to networking regularly to see the real benefits

You are very unlikely to start winning work at your first, second or even third meeting. People need to meet, know, like and trust you (to steal a 4Networking phrase). Turn up once a year, and how can you possibly expect to build relationships? Turn up once a fortnight, and people will recognise you and, more importantly, remember your name when it counts.

And finally…Quick tips for networking

So to close, a round up of some of the key things to remember as you walk into a your first networking event.

  • Never go looking for sales.
  • Get to know people, not just what they sell.
  • Don’t discount people if they cant buy from you (they may be best mates with someone who can).
  • Sell yourself, not your business. Be likeable, warm and approachable.
  • The more you give the more you receive, so offer advice and support wherever you can.
  • Support others. If a fellow networker does a great job for you, let others know.
  • Enjoy yourself. Approach it like a chore and you won’t stick it out for long enough to reap the benefits.

With sincere thanks to Emily Cagle Communications for allowing me to reproduce Gary’s post.

Simon Jordan says “social media and offline networking is an incredible way to grow your business

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post

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