Networking opportunities for business owners and employees abound for a very good reason: events where dozens of business people are all in one place can provide strong and measurable results for a business that is trying to get its name out there and achieve more sales.  Period.

The approach you take however, will make all the difference on if its brings you new sales, or becomes a waste of your time. It’s all in the approach–don’t be a “me, me, me,” type.

When you attend a networking event, whether it is a local chamber, trade organization or a social event with other business people, you MUST NOT approach it as a place where you expect immediate referrals/leads.

Everyone is there for that reason in the end-you should position yourself as a resource. Instead of thinking, “What will I get from this?”, you should focus on others there – ask pointed questions to understand their businesses better, and think about how you could provide leads (and maybe) sales for them from your network.

Time and again through our own business networking experiences and how we’ve advised our clients to approach these situations, this type of mentality will get you what you want – in the long term.

Real business relationships and trust don’t normally happen overnight, but instead develop over time. If you are willing to learn about others first, become a trusted resource and try and connect them to your sphere of influence-you’ll get returns in the end.

In business, you get out what you put in.

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