In today’s competitive business environment, building and maintaining relationships is important. And networking is a low-cost way to do just that. 

The problem is that too many people go about networking the wrong way. Instead of investing the time and energy towards making connections and building mutually beneficial relationships, their sole purpose is to get referrals and find new business. 

And although that’s the end goal of networking – you won’t get as much out of it by going in with that mindset. 

Consider this: You attend a business networking event and meet a whole bunch of new people. Sure, one or two of those people may be interested in your business and decide that they are interested in your services but the more likely scenario is that you’ll never see most of those people again – unless you make the effort. 

Networking is not about meeting people who may want to do business with you; it’s about meeting people who know someone who may want to do business with you. It’s not about finding the goose that lays the golden egg, but about finding someone who knows the goose who lays the golden egg. 

But somebody isn’t simply going to hand you referrals on a silver platter if they barely know you. You have to first build a strong relationship, gain their trust and get their attention. 

The best way to get their attention is to give them a referral first. Doing so shows that you’re serious and that you are interested in building their business as well as your own. 

When you stop looking at networking from a ‘what’s in for me’ attitude, and start looking at it as building and maintaining valuable connections, you’re taking a more sophisticated – and more effective – approach to networking. 

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