Just one simple change to your approach can unlock years of benefit.

We network to find a new job. We network to find customers. We network to find employees. We network to find investors. This approach to networking is 100% inept and will not work for you in the long run.

Do you find networking a chore? If so, the reason is that you are approaching it all wrong.

If you are networking for one of the above reasons you have already started out on the wrong foot. Networking is not a transaction and if you view networking in that fashion, you have already failed.

If I am on the other end of your transaction, I just felt like you stole my wallet. This approach is one-sided, and any conversation we just had (whether by email or in person) feels insincere. Ever been on the receiving side of one of these? If so, why would you turn around and do the same thing to someone else.

As an investor, I frequently get cold emails in my inbox. Do you really think I am going to be turned on and respond to an email from someone I don’t know with the idea that I will be sending you my hard earned money? Would you invest if you were in my position.

Networking starts months to years before you need it. Networking is about fostering a set of professional relationships that has benefits to both of us. There may be times when I take and times when you take, but that is the nature of a relationship. To that end, you have to build in equal levels of give, as you want to take.

I have been working with the son of a very successful couple to help him connect with people in my network. He reached out and indicated that one of the connections was dead and he was moving on, as the person had not responded to his email over the past 2 weeks.

Slow down, I quickly responded. You have to build a relationship – this is not a transaction. Send this person another email and include an article or link to something interesting to both of you. Show our target you actually care and are actually thinking of them and their company. Give her something before you take.

Lasting relationships are earned over a period of time with many touches.

My young friend shot me a note yesterday that he has a follow up meeting with our target as his follow up email with an interesting link resonated with our now mutual friend.

Networking is the most powerful tool to master and your success depends on it. Start today and make it part of your every day activities.