Networking is all the rage now-a-days and there are books, blogs, monographs galore on the how-to’s of networking.  You can learn the art of starting a conversation and ending a conversation.  You can learn when and how to offer your business card and when not to.  You can get tips on selecting a group to break into at a cocktail party and then how to break into the group.  And, you can get advice on how to construct your ‘elevator pitch’ and tag line.

But, none of this will amount to a hill of beans if you don’t have the ‘right’ attitude.  It’s almost like high school.  Most of us are shy.  It’s difficult to break the ice.  But appearance is also reality.  If you are confident and positive people will want to meet and to be with you.  If you are tentative and cautious, not so much.

We all project out attitude outward.  People want to be associated with success and if you appear successful, they will want to be with you.  The more you consciously project this positive attitude, the more the appearance of confidence will become the reality.  Assuming that everybody wants to hear what you have to say will make it a reality.  Assuming that others are not interested in what you have to say will also make that a reality. This is a self-actualizing process.  Success breeds success.  The more you do it, the better you’ll do it in the future.

In business networking, as with all other types of networking, the objective is to form a relationship – here, in order to get better referrals.  It is important to note that one must project a pay-it-forward approach.  And, it is not so much what you say as how you say it. And by “say” I mean in addition to being able to effectively spit out your tag line and brand without stuttering.  Have a firm hand shake; look into their eyes, (and don’t flicker – pay attention).  Listen and ask substantial questions before you volunteer anything about yourself.  If you project a me-first attitude, you’ll get nothing.

Your objective should be to find the few referrals sources with whom you have business synergy.  And, since you will never have the time to fully explore the possibilities or form meaningful relationships in the time allotted to this first meeting, schedule a one-on-one follow up meeting to both flesh out the relationship and better understand ways in which you can work together.  I say “relationship” because people do business with people they like and respect.  And, this needs to be cultivated.

If you keep this idea firmly in mind, you will (live long and) prosper.  So, stand up straight, pull your shoulders back and plant a smile on your lips. Believe! This will be fun.