John Maxwell so perfectly stated, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” People often take on the task of networking to gather contacts who may help them in business, but exchanging business cards does not guarantee further conversation or lucrative deals. Professionals who have trouble finding value in networking may just be looking at the process all wrong. Let go of dated thinking about gathering connections and focus on fostering genuine alliances that will position you for success. When people believe in you, they will believe in what you do.

Focus on giving

Instead of initiating a relationship with thoughts of what someone can do for you, think about what you can do for someone else. Show a person that you are interested in building a connection by offering your help without expecting anything in return. Introducing them to someone in your network or offering advice from your expertise will establish loyalty and trust.

Forget the numbers game

Acquiring a network that is based on real relationships will plant you in a real working system that produces favorable outcomes for people who are truly engaged. People like when they are involved in relationships with value and substance – not when they’re just a means to an end. “Clicks” and “likes” will not foster connections that will be fruitful. Don’t be afraid to follow up after initial the meeting or offer up congratulations when your contact shares milestones on social media. And don’t hesitate to extend an invitation to lunch or a fun activity to allow. Remember, quality over quantity.

Respect others … and yourself

Building a relationship is a two-way street and not only should you respect the time, wishes, and boundaries that come along with any relationship, but you should also honor your own. Allowing yourself to be used or endure an unhealthy exchange because of a person’s perceive value may cause you to become resentful. When a relationship isn’t a good fit, let it go and put that energy into another.

Be authentic

Yes, it’s business but you are a human, so be human. Being someone you’re not just to make a connection will make maintaining the relationship a struggle and could damage your reputation. You will naturally play up your best assets by being yourself. Being authentic also ensures that you will connect with the people who compliment your goals and honestly want to be a part of your network.

Enjoy yourself

Making connections will allow you to grow, collaborate, and learn. Take pleasure in knowing that you are expanding your business, knowledge, and social net worth. Be proud of the risk that you take and reward yourself for a job well-done. Perhaps dinner with a new colleague!

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