Book CoverNow, I’ve been networking for business for almost ten years.

And during that time, I’ve achieved a huge level of success from networking. What have I achieved? Trusted suppliers, long term clients, exciting collaborative opportunities and loyal friendships. Why, because I love to meet and get to know new people, and to connect them to others. It was my passion for networking that inspired my first book, Making Connections – How to Network Effectively to Build Better Business Relationships.

People often ask me, “What is your secret to success, Gail?” My secret is due to three things:

  • Connect
  • Build
  • Nurture

Yesterday after a fantastic networking event in Bristol, a comment was shared, “you’ve nurtured the relationships, not sold to them”, in response to a discussion about a recent business win of mine.

Here’s the story.

In October, my colleague and I delivered a taster session in Bristol for a business development programme we have successfully run in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire over the past two years. The Bristol session proved to be a success, with positive feedback received and sign ups on the day.

Can Do Ladies Networking July 2014 Stanton ParkWhat happened next was that networking became my method of choice to get to know business owners in the Bristol area, especially as this was not my ‘local’ business patch.

Getting involved with a new and progressive freelance business owners networking group, I offered to help the organiser as well as presented myself as their ‘in house’ business coach. I viewed this as an opportunity to establish a connection.

Through my support and by making an effort to attend the group on a monthly basis (since September 2014) I was then able to build positive connections and relationships with the members. Building successful relationships takes time and consistency is key.

As we connected and relationships were built, the progressive next stage of nurturing then took place. You can liken the act of nurturing to tending a garden.

When you take care of a plant, thriving results will happen.

Tend to the needs of your plants, which is more than simply a little fertiliser and the occasional drink of water, and your garden will be colourful, strong and vibrant.

Having connected with, built on and as I continue to nurture these new relationships, more members ‘bought into’ the value and the opportunity of the business development programme.

As a result of ‘nurturing, not selling’, four more members have signed up to commence their individual business challenge with us during 2015.

Next time, when you think that networking isn’t working for you, consider whether you have made best use of my success process – connect, build and nurture. Remember, networking isn’t a quick fix. Like the best relationships in your life, positive business relationships and opportunities take time to grow and be realised.

Make sure you are in the right garden, to ensure you tend the plants which can enable you to achieve networking success.