Networking is more than just shaking hands and passing out business cards. Networking is really about building your social capital.

Having a great network is the best way to be successful. People like doing business with people they know and like. And the best way to let people know about your outstanding qualities is by establishing a good web of friends, contacts and potential partners – which is essentially the main purpose of the art of networking.

But in order to succeed, you must have a number of qualities which will help endear you to your new networks. Here are some of the most important.

They do not judge people based on stereotype and/or initial impressions. Good networkers know that sometimes, people are not what they seem. Someone quiet may turn out to be the best source of referrals, and someone who is popular may not be willing to share his connections. They will not judge anyone on who they are and what they do, as they are aware that ‘people know people’ and you never know who they are. A good referral often comes from an unexpected contact.

They stand out. Some people are interesting and some people aren’t. Be yourself. Dare to speak your mind. Read a lot and share your opinions candidly. Do crazy things and share your stories. People are attracted to people who are unique, so don’t try to “fit in”. Everybody else is fitting in; you should be sticking out.

They are optimistic. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike being around you and drives away referrals; a positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. When you are positive, you’re like a magnet; people want to be around you and will send their friends, family and associates to you. Positive attitudes are contagious. Being positive contributes to your determination, internal motivation and ultimate business success.

They know when to shut up and listen. It’s easy to get caught in building yourself up too much in order to make people know how you can be the solution to their need, but there’s nothing more annoying than someone who talks too much about themselves. Show genuine interest for the people you meet. Ask them about their lives. Find something you have in common with them and you’ll have found a great, fun topic to talk about. Your success as networkers depends on how well you can listen and learn from the people in our network. Listening for the needs and problems of others can also position you to engage the services of the people you know. Many distractions can get in the way of listening well to each other. Communicating well takes focus and effective listening.

They are confident. Networking is a little hard for some shy people. This could be because of their expectations. As a great networker, you must approach networking with the understanding that ideal networking is not prospecting and making an actual sale – it is getting the right contacts which will help connect you to a good customer relationship. You must also be prepared to realise that some people will like you and some won’t. Either way, you’ll do great.

They are reliable and worthy of trust. A good networker delivers on his promises – over and above expectation. So the surest ticket to being considered a bad network connection is by not being worthy of both your client’s and your referral partner’s trust. Be truthful, be honest. Be genuine, and don’t overpromise if you know you cannot meet them.

They help out others. You will notice that a good networker will always support other networkers build their community/tribe. They will always offer to help out by jumping in without being asked and helping as best they can. A good networker knows no scarcity and is willing to share their contacts, their knowledge and their support. A good networker will always attend other networkers’ events as often as they can to show their support to ‘the cause’.

They give good referrals. Be known for giving great referrals. You only need to give a bad referral before people steer clear of you, so think clearly about who you pass a referral onto – and if the person you referred is indeed reliable. A good networker will assess the compatibility of the referred to the client and his/her need.

They follow up. They make timely follow-up on referrals- this is ranked as the No. 1 trait of successful networkers. If you present an opportunity — whether it’s a simple piece of information, a special contact or a qualified business referral — to someone who consistently fails to follow up successfully, it’s no secret that you’ll eventually stop wasting your time with this person. Following up with what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it, builds your credibility and trust with your network. After meeting someone new or attending an event, a good networker will follow up with the people they wish to keep in contact with in the future.

They love people! This is the most important part of being a networker. If you don’t like people, forget networking as it will show. Networkers support and promote/sell others without even realising that they are doing it. It’s their way of giving back for all that they receive.