Effective networking is your key to career success. You might think networking is hard work, or maybe you don’t even like the word, as it has become a byword for shallow insincerity. But true networking doesn’t have to be a clinical assembling of people from who you can profit. Networking based on real connection can help you achieve your goals and find success. Authentic networking formed on good relationships is an effective strategy. Here are some expert tips for building genuine relationships to kickstart your success.

  1. Reframe your definition of networking

If you reframe networking into relationship-building, chances are you will approach it with a very different frame of mind. You’re not collecting business cards for the sake of it but meeting new people and connecting with them. Find what you have in common and take it from there.

  1. Set a goal

Be strategic in your networking and have a goal in mind when you’re building relationships. You’re not networking for the sake of it but to get you closer to achieving your goal. That doesn’t mean you will be exploiting your new contacts, but it does mean that you’re not aimlessly connecting with whoever comes along.

Think of your dream job or project.  Do you want to be running your own business, have an A grade clients list, be earning a six-figure salary? Wherever you want to be in five or ten years’ time, write it down.

  1. Make a plan

Once you know where you want to be, you need a plan to get there and a role for your network. Think if the steps you need to take, the intermediate goals you need to achieve, and whose help you need to get there. What mentors, coaches or peer buddies do you need? What sort of advocates or investors will help you achieve your goal? Who is in your network that could be your future dream clients or partners?

  1. Building your focused network

Once you know who you need to have on your side to achieve your goals, you can start to build authentic relationships and grow your strategic network.

People love being asked for advice and appreciate feeling heard. Ask insightful questions and practice your active listening. Pay particular attention to what people are telling you, making eye contact and mirror body language. These are not tricks, but effective ways of building trust and fostering good relationships.

By finding the true points of connection and being a respectful listener, you will develop authentic relationships that are more than just contacts. And you will be on your way to achieving your goals.