Small businesses thrive, when they have a network of contacts. Not only does networking give them a list of contacts and potential joint venture partners, it also enables them to get visible and in front of potential clients too.

However, networking isn’t just about being seen in the right circles, it’s about relationship building too – and that’s why it’s a lot like dating.

If you want to be seen, you need to get out there

When you’re single and looking for a potential partner, you won’t find them sat inside your house all the time. It’s no different for your business – if you want to be seen, you have to get yourself out of your house and go attend networking events.

If you go in too pushy, they’ll walk

Meeting someone for the first time can be daunting for both parties involved. You want to make a good impression, as you know first impressions count, so you make sure you look the part and act the part. One thing that will put anyone off – whether that’s a potential romantic partner or a business one, is being too pushy.

If you walk up to someone and immediately try to sell the benefits, whether that’s dating you, collaborating with you or buying your products and services, the other person is going to run a mile.

You won’t be a match for everyone you meet

When you’re dating you have to potentially meet a lot of frogs, before you find your prince. When you’re networking for your business, not everyone you meet is going to be your ideal client. Not everyone is going to be suitable for you or your business, so accept that fact, drop the expectation and loosen up a bit!

If you want to see them again, follow up

There’s nothing worse than meeting someone you get on with or going on a great first date, that ends with you thinking you’ve made a great connection – only to never hear from them again.

Business networking is no different. It’s incredibly annoying, not to mention unprofessional, to meet someone who promises to follow up, but then doesn’t. In the same vein, if you meet someone you want to see again – let them know AND ensure you follow up after that initial first contact.

Building a lasting relationship takes time

As with any new relationship, if you want one that’s going to be a quality one, you need to take the time to nurture it. Get to know the other person. Spend time talking with them and sharing your experiences and show them what you have to offer. More importantly, practice your listening skills. Listen to their story, their needs and their desires. Look for ways you can help them achieve what they want to achieve and share things that will be of value to them.

Whether you’re looking to get into dating or into a new business relationship, look at networking as the means to getting out there and meeting the ideal person for you.

Image courtesy of baranq/