Ask any business owner and they will tell you how important it is to build a solid business network. A great business network is high-quality and consists of a group of people you can count on. Building such a network requires commitment and consistency. Not to mention, a balance between giving and taking, not simply exchanging business cards and contact information. Here are 3 tips for building a better business network:

Be Authentic

When introduced to new acquaintances and businesspeople, it’s recommended to be knowledgeable and up-to-date. But it’s more important to be yourself. Sure, we all want to present a more refined and polished version of ourselves to the world, but it’s another thing altogether to mislead acquaintances about your goals and values. Understandably, there are many people we would want to impress, but the best relationships (yes, business relationships too) happens when you start with a natural connection and common ground. Being authentic also enhances your reputation to others in your field.

Bad Behavior Is Never a Good Idea

We hear of several charismatic yet overbearing and unpleasant business leaders. We start to wonder if such traits are perfectly acceptable, or worse, integral to success. Please don’t try this.

Being a jerk while taking benefits from our relations without giving back is detrimental at any stage, but especially so when you are in the process of building and growing your business. You will get an unsavory reputation and trust us, your network will pass on juicy anecdotes of nasty behavior to their relations.

Thank your acquaintances when they have provided you a favor. Be kind to them even when it looks like there is no visible payoff for doing so. Being trustworthy and dependable has business value.

Get More Personal

Want to know a particular person better? Ask them to hang out together. You’ll have the chance for a more personal discussion. Be open to different ideas. Be willing to have someone teach you business models you may be skeptical of. Share your experiences, points of views, and professional plans to see if this is someone you want to share a more lasting business relationship with. Also, see if this is someone you can trust.

Building a solid business network doesn’t stop at exchanging contact information. It’s what happens after that matters most. Be authentic, be professional and responsible, and establish quality relationships with talented people who trust and inspire.

Looking for more business tips? Click here for ideas to win more clients, here for metrics to watch when checking on your business’ health, and here for tips to optimize your chances for business financing approval.