The Art of Networking: Building Meaningful Relationships in Business

business people sitting down at a desk with laptops - meeting

When you’re looking to build meaningful relationships in business, how does the way in which people perceive us set the stage for effective networking?

Imagine you’ve picked up your phone to see a call from a certain someone. Do you feel a mix of excitement and anticipation? Or, on the flipside, do you sigh at the sight of a particular person’s name, preparing yourself for yet another conversation that’s no doubt full of drama? 

Now think about this: do you ever wonder about what people think when they see your name flash up on your phone?

In the world of business, the right relationships really can be the currency of business success. And this is why knowing how to network effectively and make a lasting positive impression is key.

Today, I’d love for us to explore how to do it well so you can really make the most of your networking opportunities.

Confident entrepreneur at a business coaching session

Creating the Right Impression for Networking Mastery

There are huge opportunities for business and careers when it comes to networking. In fact, a staggering 88% of professionals consider networking to be crucial in furthering their careers (GrowMap, 2020). 

While it’s great that most of us are aware of the importance of networking in entrepreneurship, the problem is that most of us dive headfirst into it without pausing to think about first impressions or what we really want from it. Yet it’s the impressions we instinctively evoke in others that form the foundation of successful networking. By ‘networking’, I’m not talking about simply rushing around and trying to shake as many hands as you can in as little time as possible – what I mean is that we truly show up in a way that resonates positively with others. How will you make people remember you for all the right reasons? 

Next time you step into the room, consider the energy you bring into it. Do you exude enthusiasm and positivity? Or do you speak negatively, offloading onto others so that they quietly start to dread speaking to you? Be really mindful about your energy every time you meet someone new. What would you love them to say about you if you were to leave the room?

Align your energy with your intentions – if you want people to feel positively about you, make sure that’s reflected in what you say and do. With everyone you meet, make them feel as though they’re the only person in the room. While you won’t get to talk to as many people by doing this, I promise you that the quality of those relationships will far outweigh how many business cards you swap or numbers you exchange.

Business owner and entrepreneurial apprentice sitting down talking

Quality Over Quantity: The Golden Rule of Networking

The digital age has transformed what we see as ‘networking’ in the business world. With social media sites such as Linkedin (which has over 774 million users worldwide), we often find ourselves chasing the buzz of growing our follower numbers. But this often merely results in a large but superficial number of connections and interactions.

Instead, I want you to resist this urge and focus on the golden rule of effective networking: prioritise quality over quantity. It’s really not about how many social media interactions you build up, how many followers you have or how quickly you can pitch yourself at a networking event.

And it was kind of a relief once I realised that.

Instead of merely interacting through likes or jumping from person to person, take the time to speak to someone. Aim to really get to know them beyond just their job title. Find out: 

  • Who are they as a person? 
  • What truly lights them up? 
  • What challenges are they facing?
  • What do they really hope to achieve? 

Learn about their strengths and areas where they seek support. It might sound a little cheesy, but try to think of networking as a slow dance rather than a race. Take time to get on the same page rather than charging past them to make another surface-level connection with yet another individual.

Taking a more intentional approach like this not only deepens your understanding of people whom you might genuinely want to work with, but it also sets the stage for creating authentic connections. These are the sort of connections that will truly stand the test of time and bring with them so many valuable opportunities for everyone involved.

It’s not about how many people you connect with. It’s about how meaningful those connections are. 

picture of a man giving a talk and a man in the audience with his hand raised

Solving Problems and Building Bridges for Business Success

When it comes to building relationships in business, I really love being the problem-solver and the go-to person that helps people out (which is why I truly love what I do as a coach). I find it so resonant when I hear that saying: “If you can help enough people to get what they want, you’ll never have to worry about what you want.”

In my experience of attending networking events, it becomes so obvious to see when people are rushing around and basically commoditising the whole experience. 

Yet I’ve found that if I just took the time to speak to just one or two people and really got to the heart of what they cared about and what their challenges were, I soon discovered that one person’s problem was another person’s opportunity. I could then introduce these people to each other and it would always be so appreciated.

This way, I found that my network grew slowly but far, far more authentically.

Introductions can go such a long way, so don’t be afraid to make them. You don’t need to be taking cuts or commissions for this to serve you either. The truth is that if you help people solve their problems and you bring others value, they won’t be able to forget it. 

And I promise they’ll find a way to return the favour tenfold.

Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help When Building Relationships

Finally, I want you to know that it’s absolutely okay to ask others for help when you’re building meaningful relationships in business. In fact, I’ve found that the most successful people I know are never afraid to ask for help when they need it.

People actually really love to help. The act of asking for help is never a sign of weakness – instead, it opens doors to collaboration and shared success. Successful people understand the power of reciprocal relationships. They know that by giving and receiving help, everyone involved succeeds together.

And it’s amazing what we can achieve when we work with others like that.

So, the next time you find yourself in need, please reach out to someone you know can help you. People actually really appreciate the opportunity to be of assistance, and this often creates a powerful ripple effect of collaboration and collective success.

I really hope this post has brought you value today and I’d love to know how you get on the next time you’re at a networking event. Let me know by dropping me a comment on my Instagram page – and if you’re looking for someone to help you move to the next stage of business success, I’d only be too happy to help.

Get in touch and let’s see what we can achieve together.