Networking. Over the years this word has been so commonly (or overly) used that it’s become a bit cliché – and for that reason, many people either don’t understand what it truly is and its purpose or have decided to redefine what it means to them.

Though networking is still a very broad term, when it comes to business it has a very significant place and should be approached with the right mindset. One may ask what is truly the purpose of networking, and although the answer is different for everyone, there are some general ways to look at it.

For me, the concept of networking was a completely horrifying one. Not only was I (and still am in many ways) an extreme introvert, I simply didn’t get the point of it. Only over time and as I began to develop myself professionally did I begin to understand the purpose of networking and how to do it effectively no matter the field.

Networking is an opportunity for you to practice owning who you are. You literally have to introduce yourself to complete strangers and master your elevator pitch. Doing this absolutely helps you become more comfortable representing yourself. When it comes to networking changing your expectations can go a long way. Though there are many types of networking events, many people walk into them thinking that they’ll land their next big sale or client, which isn’t the best way to look at it.

Often, people have the same intentions as you, so many times attendees of networking events may not be your future customers. Instead, shift your end goal. Perhaps try making it your goal to introduce who you are and what you do to yet another person. Each person you meet and each person who knows you or your brand equals increased brand awareness. Looking at it this way allows you to go into it with a positive outlook either way. You can also make it less about you and more about the amazing people you can possibly meet. It may not be a direct sale, but it could certainly mean meeting some amazing people resulting in collaboration or partnerships.