No doubt, networking is essential for business growth. It is important to let people know who you are and what you do. But like anything else, there's a right way and wrong way about how you network. Here are a few things I have observed and have found, that have helped me to grow our business.
Do: Attend regularly. The more familiar people become with you, the more they are likely to trust you and either refer or use you. Not only will you meet some truly great people but can build some lasting relationships, as well.
Don't: Show up sporadically and expect instant results. If I had a dollar for every person that showed up once or twice, only not to be seen again, I wouldn't need to network. It takes time to build relationships.
Do: Exchange business cards with people you meet. Look for people that you can help, as well as people that can help you. You can call, e-mail or send a personal note to people you meet. I recommend that you make a few quality connections rather than a whole bunch of people. Quality is better than quantity.
Don't: Yes. Sending an e-mail, card or making a phone call is fine, just don't bombard people with your info. There nothing worse than getting a bunch of e-mails from someone you just met, only to have to spam them.
Do: Inform and educate people about what you do and the potential benefit of it for them, in a non-invasive way. Your 30-60 second speech will let them know about you and you can tell them more, if they seem interested. Be sure to utilize the full time allowed and make it memorable.
Don't: Continually hit upon people. They know what you do and when they need someone like you, hopefully you'll be the first person they think of. I often run into people that just can't take a hint. I avoid these people at all cost! watch your time because it is rude and inconsiderate to keep talking, after your time is up.
Do: Set up one on one's with people that can benefit from knowing you, as well as you knowing them. They should be with complimentary businesses and be mutually beneficial.
Don't: Set up one on one's, with the intention of selling something. I continually get asked to do one on one's and get frustrated when, all of a sudden, an order form is presented to me. They are only looking out for their best interest. Pushy people are just plain annoying!
This is just what I have observed form my experiences. It may be different for different people.
I would love to hear your opinion!