When you go to a networking event, what are you hoping to accomplish?

It’s an important question.

When I’m out at events I notice too many people thinking they are going to sell someone something. They couldn’t be more wrong!

While they have intention, I submit it is the wrong intention! And those people end up receiving the exact opposite of what they want. They end up alienating people. You have to be in it for the long haul because selling via networking takes time.

You have to build the relationships first and then the sales will come.

These days we have so many opportunities to connect with people – on and off line. We should take some time and decide what we hope to achieve. And we should be very careful about that hope.

Networking isn’t really about selling at the time. It’s about building relationships. Selling come later.

Let’s take a look at the process when it is working well.

Decide that what you want to accomplish is finding people who you have some synergy with; people who are also interested in building business relationships. In order to do this you need to be very present and interested in getting to know them. Your intention at the event should be to learn about 1 or 2 people.

When you make those connections the next step is to grow the relationships. Reach out to the people you meet and schedule coffee or a follow up call. Business relationships take energy. Through those relationships you will realize all kinds of opportunities. You will gain clients, information, referral partners. Remember that giving first works best. So intend to take what you’ve learned about your connections and help them succeed.

The same is true when you are connecting online. Here, however, you have an opportunity to learn about people before you reach out to make a connection. Think about who would make a good referral partner – someone in a complementary industry.

Think about who you could learn from, who could help you grow your business, and who you could help. Intentionally seek out people that would be good to connect with. And when you reach out to them, let them know WHY you are asking to connect. Then, by all means, respect the relationship.

Selling comes from good relationships. There’s no way to shortcut the process. So, step back, think about what makes sense for you in your business at the time, and then intentionally proceed. You will find that you are much more successful this way.