Oh, the networking event!

You know the one. You walk into a room of mostly strangers all with business cards out. All trying to sell you their stuff. Oh wait, you realize… you’re one of them too. You’re there to sell your stuff.

Want to know how to succeed beyond your wildest dreams at networking?

Put your business cards away.

No really. Stop passing them out. No one cares. And those that want just your card and nod their head politely – well, they just want you to add to their mailing list.

Stop networking. Just stop.

Start making connections.

Make some real, heartfelt, deep connections with people. Yes, of course, you want it to be folks that you can help in their businesses and vice-versa, but the reality is that people do business with people that they know, like and trust. You aren’t going to pick up a new client from the first networking event you attend. You need to build a trust-filled relationship with these folks.

Which brings me to my next point… don’t just hop around groups. Find one or two that you truly connect with and make it a point to show up to those events each month/week/whatever. Be authentic (people can see through fake really easily), be yourself and have fun. Business referrals are built on relationships, build that relationship first and the business will come.

–   Candy Beauchamp is the co-founder of VA League, where they help Virtual Assistants build relationships and build businesses.