Businesspeople unfamiliar with referral networking sometimes lose sight of the fact that networking is the means–not the end–of their business-building activities. They attend three, four, even five events in a week in a desperate grasp for new business. The predictable result is that they stay so busy meeting new people that they never have time to follow up and cultivate those relationships–and how can they expect to get new business from someone they’ve only just met? As one of these unfortunates remarked to me, “I feel like I’m always networking but rarely getting anything done.”
Networking and meeting new people that can become potential business associates is certainly important, however, if you don’t take time to do the follow up work on these new meetings then it’s virtually pointless to meet new people to begin with. Also remember that when at these networking events and your mingling making your rounds and talking to people, be sure not to start off right off the bat with selling yourself or your products, this will only make you seem pushy.
Try to limit the number of conacts that you gain at each event, this will ensure that you can complete the follow up process later. Spend a little bit of time per person that you talk to, maybe set a 15 minute time frame. During your conversation make sure you don’t just talk about you and your company. Ask your contact questions that will enable them to start talking about their own business so that you can understand their company and make sure that they are a contact that you want.
Always remember to write some sort of note or reminder on the back of any business card that you collect. You’ll want to make sure that later when you go back to start your follow up you’ll have a reference so to speak on what this person’s company is all about and maybe even what their goals are.