My maiden effort at networking for my business was a total disaster!

My first mistake was going to the wrong type of event. I had just finished my professional training as a voice actor and a friend of mine wangled an invitation for me to attend the annual holiday party of a local talent agency.

I had no clue how to interact with the people there. They were all strangers to me.

I wandered around aimlessly, trying to figure out how to join a conversation; but absolutely no one was interested in meeting a newbie who was trying to promote herself and her business. Everyone was too busy enjoying the free food and drinks.

My second mistake was having a totally wrong notion of what the real purpose of networking is.

I had heard that networking was a valuable strategy for building one’s business. My incorrect assumption was that this meant using networking as a means of selling my products and services.

It’s my firm belief that trying to relate to people from a sales point of view is why people end up feeling pushy and sleazy at networking events.

Finally one of my mentors set me straight. The purpose of networking is not to make a sale in the short term.

The purpose of networking is to build relationships with people, some of whom may eventually want your products or services, some of whom may turn out to be good referral partners , and some of whom are simply people with whom you can be friendly.

You build those relationships by showing a genuine interest in the people you meet, and coming from a place of service, not sales. It’s definitely a much more comfortable way to conduct oneself, and and much more likely to eventually create the results you desire.

In other words, networking as a business building strategy is a long game, requiring good people skills, a consistent follow-up system, and lots of patience.

To check out 3 key mindsets for networking success, click here.