Hate to network? You can learn to love it if you follow a few simple rules.

Posted by Robin Hensley

Like it or not, networking is an important part of business development.

Are you resistant to networking because it makes you feel inauthentic and self-absorbed? After all, you wouldn’t be doing it at all if you didn’t want something from the other person, right? Or, perhaps you feel like you have to become someone you’re not–chatty, schmoozy, back slapping and smarmy. If any of these sounds like you, then let me set you straight on what networking really is and why an authentic you is the best face to put forward.Thumbnail image for iStock_000012237157XSmall.jpg

Networking is not just about you.

Networking is a two-way street. Going into it with the idea that you can help the other person reach his or her goals changes your point of view.

I’ve written extensively on this topic in my articles and books because it is something I believe in so strongly.

If you want a crash course in changing your mind about networking, visit my friend Bob Littell’s site at netweaving.com. You might also want to read Bob Burg’s book, Endless Referrals or get a copy of my book, Raising the Bar: A Ten Step Guide to World Class Rainmaking. (Hint: It’s in Chapter 8.)

Networking asks that you show up as who you really are.

When you are authentically you, you are more confident and, dare I say it, more likeable. That means sticking to topics you know and love to get a conversation started and uncover areas of connection. Moving from there to business can be a natural progression. The goal is to establish rapport. That happens naturally when you focus on the other person’s interests. Of course, a little research on LinkedIn will give you a few clues.

Raise the bar on your networking a little at a time.

Set a realistic, doable networking goal that will give you a sense of accomplishment and success that you can build on. For example, reach out to one person this week that you would like to know better. Networking, like any other skill, can be learned and your confidence will build as you see results. Really, once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why it ever bothered you at all.

For more ideas on who to network with, request my list of Trusted Advisors. It will get your thinking started in the right direction.

Until next time,

Robin