Have you ever thought about the power of friendship in business?

Ever considered how, when conducted with truth, authenticity and heart, networking really can grow your brand AND your ‘soul family’?

Even if you’re not in business, you’ll be able to relate to the purity and power of clean connections in this article. If you ARE in business, I’m hoping this will renew your faith in networking.

As someone who specialises in confidence and empowerment coaching, through to personal brand and visibility, I constantly hear people knocking ‘networking’. I hear people complaining that it doesn’t work, that it’s a waste of time or that it’s really ‘notworking’.

Well, if you really believe networking is NOTworking, you’re probably doing it wrong!

Here are some of the most common mistakes people make:

[ 1 ]  ONLY EVER NETWORKING AT BUSINESS NETWORKING EVENTS You don’t need to reserve networking for organised networking meetings. Business networking groups can be amazing – I’m part of a nationwide group in the UK that allows me to access meetings, and speak at them, all over the country. But that doesn’t mean my networking ends there.

Networking is really just about meeting people, talking to them and not being an asshole! Strike up a conversation when the opportunity presents – you never know where it might lead! I’ve engaged in impromptu networking in the supermarket, on the train, at events, even in the queue at the GP’s surgery! Oh, and remember everything you do on social media is networking too!

[ 2 ]  YOU DON’T NEED TO SEPARATE BUSINESS FROM THE REST OF YOUR LIFE If you find yourself adopting a different personality for your work, chances are you’re in the wrong business! Think about it… it’s pretty Schizophrenic, isn’t it? If you’re doing the right kind of work, it’ll be in your veins and you’ll love doing it. That means you absolutely can be yourself when you’re networking and you don’t need to worry about that new client bumping into you at a social gathering and wondering why you seem so different.

[ 3 ]  BUSINESS NETWORKING ISN’T ALL ABOUT BUSINESS The group I network with most in the UK has a policy of 50% social, 50% business… and sometimes the scales tip more heavily in favour of social! This doesn’t need to be a problem. In fact, I’ve found it to be a real bonus. Some might argue that the business element should come first, but that feels a bit back to front to me.

Sure, ultimately, I’m networking to grow my business – that’s my overall goal in attending a networking event. BUT (and it’s a big but!), it’s through the friendships we grow and nurture at these events that the best business – and life – opportunities present. Please, don’t go into networking events with the potential for building friendships and relationships at the bottom of your priority list.

Sure, you’re there for business, but that meet-like-know-trust philosophy is there for a reason. Unless your business model is purely ‘stack-em-high-sell-em-cheap’, where you compete purely on price and don’t worry about the customer journey or client retention, relationships really are important. They’re REALLY important. Particularly when it comes to smaller businesses, the age of emotionless selling is dead. Or, at the very least, moribund. Build relationships. Nurture them into friendships too. You’ll end up with an endless supply of business – and life – advice when you need it, support from others who understand… AND referrals, testimonials and business from people who know they can trust you and actively want to work with you.

If you’re still not convinced about the power of friendships in networking and business, let me share a story with you…

A few years back, I connected with a lady by the name of Dr Andrea Pennington on Facebook. It seemed we had similar interests and outlooks on life and we got chatting online.

A while afterwards, I was at a big business event in London where Andrea happened to be speaking. We recognised each other, kept bumping into each other at the event and got to know each other a little more.

Not long after that, Andrea invited me onto her show to talk about my first book, Whispers From The Earth.

A while later, Andrea invited me back on to talk about my next book, Unleash Your Awesome. At the end of that show, she invited me to speak at an event she was running in London.

I spoke at Andrea’s event, met lots of amazing people, sold lots of books and had a whale of a time.

At the end of that event, Andrea talked to me about Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of Pleasure. It seemed an amazing opportunity and a little too good to be true.

Soon afterwards, I was introduced to Malcolm Out Loud and a whirlwind adventure began!

Last week I recorded my final (for now!) episode with the show. I can’t believe the time has flown by so swiftly.

Committing to be a co-host on the show was a biggie. It meant I had to be more flexible with my schedules and it meant I couldn’t always attend some of those business networking events I had been going to regularly. That’s the beauty of my group being nationwide though – I might not always have been able to attend my local groups, but I could get to others, a little further afield, on days that didn’t clash with show recording times.

In the meantime, I got to network – through those shows – on a global level, and some of those amazing co-hosts have become lifelong friends – some of us have already been discussing the potential for business ventures.

Want more proof? I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the profile America Out Loud afforded me attracted more work opportunities. It really has built my business AND enhanced my personal brand story.

See? All of this has been possible through that wonderful mix of friendship and business. Networking online led me to connect with Andrea and the friendship we formed opened up new opportunities that led to Malcolm, my beautiful co-hosts AND more business.

Don’t separate business from pleasure, people. Don’t draw such a firm line between friendship and business.

If we network properly, we might just find our hearts AND our bottom lines feeling healthier.

Until next time,