5 tips to base business networking with authenticity

Networking should be used to develop new relationships in a spirit of giving, of contributing to the community.

Annie Bourque | Journalist 

Business networking expert and speaker Fran├žois Garon presents a new approach based on our values and authenticity: the Givers Code. The giving here is the gift of yourself.  

1) Create your identity
"People identify with big companies like Nike or Apple because of their strong values--action, courage and perseverance," explains Garon, a consultant in relational marketing. 

Out of this came his idea that small business managers and self-employed workers can create their own identities too. This means developing a Givers Code on an individual level. "We earn others' trust quickly by bringing out what makes us unique," says Garon. "This gets us the accounts and contracts we really want."  

2) Define your values
This is an exercise that calls for thought and downtime. Those who attend Garon's talks spontaneously choose words like respect, openness, engagement and attention to detail. Garon himself recommends that people write down what drives them. 

"I personally like working with people who are genuine, open-minded and who want to be better people," says Garon.

3) Find the source of conflicts
It's easy to find common ground when you and your spouse or colleague share the same values. If not, it creates tensions. "Conflicts often arise out of not understanding our values," he notes.

For example, one employee might focus on good service, while another values speed. You can see how confrontations might arise pretty often. Garon advises collaborators to look at things in perspective. "Then we give them a chance to get in line with the corporate mission and vision." 

4) Position yourself 
The Givers Code is about clear positioning. "What can people expect from you?" says Garon. "If integrity and honesty are important, you'll attract customers, suppliers and collaborators who share those values." 

Before choosing your network, you can ask: Does this group or event line up with my values? Will I be able to develop comfortably and confidently in this community? 

Networking is often considered a solicitation, sales or prospecting method. "The fact is," says Garon, "it should be used to develop new relationships in a spirit of giving, of contributing to the community."

5) Start off right
Garon's talks provide approaches to pursue further. There are essential questions such as "What do people like about my business?" and "What am I proudest of?"

He is inspired by the stories of business leaders who have built contact networks that work. Figuring out what makes them who they are has helped many to experience greater on-the-job harmony.

"The sole purpose of my work is to help people make the most of themselves," says Garon.  

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