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Networking – why you shouldn't worry about getting burned

Networking should never be a hard sell. It’s about forming good relationships over the long term. You get back what you give– so give plenty and reap the rewards.

The way to form good relationships with people is to literally care and share. By caring I mean paying attention to your networking colleagues and listening to them.

By sharing I mean a good networker shares their knowledge, skills and contacts. It’s not always about finding new clients – sometimes you end up making a new friend or meeting a supplier who can help you in your life and business. I love the advice of Tim Sanders in Love is the Killer App for this, which I reviewed on the blog about a year ago.

What’s stopping you? The fear that someone will take advantage. The truth is that will happen. But it’s all right to take that hit from time to time. You won’t be hurt badly, or for long.

The alternative is to become miserly – and that will hurt your business.

For networking to work, we all have to collaborate in giving. What would happen if everyone who turned up to a networking event was only interested in what they could get? I’ve been to events like that, and they’re soul-destroying.

A friend went along to a networking event as a guest. Someone she met there called her a few days later for follow-up. He told her all about his business, thanked her and hung up, without asking her a single question about her business.

Later he added her email to his newsletter list and sent her twice-weekly updates about his business – until she unsubscribed. Being treated like this is not a nice feeling.

So, if you find yourself getting carried away and pitching hard to someone about your business, tone it down and ask them something about themselves.

Having said all this, you shouldn’t give and give for nothing. It is not contradictory to draw the line somewhere – next week I’ll be blogging on how to keep your networking relationships nicely balanced.