These are my interpretations and what works from experience, and forms part of 20 tips – have chucked in a sixth one as well, and please remember Networking is not Selling:
1) Attend events where you will meet people that suit your profession/industry/business. Some events are industry specific. Some also insist upon one represntative per sector. No point going to an event where you are not welcome.
2) Set yourself a target of what you are seeking to achieve at each event. SMART Applies. Mine is usually Five proper conversations with a total of Ten business cards/contacts based on a two hour event.
3) Prepare yourself before attending – right image (formal or informal), business cards, A6 book or pocket diary, pens x 3, own professional badge (costs £6). Often people will attend events without business cards or simply run out. So having a pocket diary or A6 book, means you can write down their details, and make contact after. I just picked up a new business colleague, because I was the only person to do that at a recent event.
4) Speak to the organiser prior to the day to find out how the event works – are you able/expected to address the room, or is it a round table event? So a 60 seconds presentation should be prepared to reflects the needs of the people in the room. And very importantly what you can and cannot do at the event. Some have house rules.
5) Make a friend of the organiser, and ensure he/she knows, who you are seeking to meet, and ask them who are the best networkers within his/her group, who are likely to attend. Ask for a direct introduction. Find out beforehand, whether there is a list of attendees issued, and it becomes a great tool to establish, who you wish to meet and therefore part of SMART.
and a number 6 – follow up by phone everyone you meet, not just email, and if you have promised something, an introduction, a further connection, do deliver. It will ensure people remember you for the right reasons.
Two excellent books to help you on your way
……… and Death came Third by Andy Lopata and Peter Roper, plus
Little Fish Guide to Networking by Jackie Barrie
All three great networking colleagues of mine.