1. Keep your contacts fresh
In order to maintain your contact list and keep you in the forefront of their minds, mailing them a week before seeing them at event after months of silence won't do. Touch base with your network and be a constant reminder to them how important and helpful a contact you are.
2. Be prepared
It is a cardinal error for any businessperson whether they are a director or entry-level employee to be without their business cards. Always carry a number of business cards with you, as you never know whom you might meet, how you can help them and how they can help you.
If you don't have any corporate cards, consider having a batch printed with your essential details on them. A personally produced card looks a lot better than no card at all.
In addition you should make sure that your cards are accessible. It doesn't look very professional to have to rummage through your pockets for you card, or worse flick through a number of other people's cards before you get to your own.
3. Select your events carefully
It is important that before you attend any event you check that it is appropriate. If you are looking for a certain sector to network with, it is vital that you target your networking.
4. Check the list
The delegate list is your bible. Before you arrive, request the delegate list. If it is unavailable pick one up as soon as you arrive and study who it is you want to talk to. Networking should be strategic.
5. It is easy to be interesting
When you first enter a room remember, most people are in the same position as you and will be receptive to any conversation. Enter conservation with confidence and be the questioner: people like you to be interested and that makes you interesting. Win people over with the sincerity of your interest and your enthusiasm for their topic of conversation.
6. Attention and retention
Once you've begun engaging with new contacts, it is vital that you take in what they are saying and use it to develop your networking experience. Introducing your new contacts to other contacts with real details will make you a worthwhile and memorable new contact. Don't suffer the embarrassment of forgetting your new contact's name whilst introducing them to someone else.
7. Give don't take
Networking is all about mutual benefits. Do not go in on a selling offensive; go with the mentality that you can help others and that is why you are there. People will be more positive in receiving you.
Try to see as many people as possible whilst spreading your business card far and wide. But remember new contacts may have their sights set on certain other delegates so try not to monopolise people's time.
9. Follow up
Post-networking is almost as important as making the contact in the first place. Remember to follow up with an email at the very least. To make these new contacts into contacts for life, consider dropping them a telephone call or even a handwritten note. Emails can get lost in the inbox following an influx of spam.
10. Social networking v traditional?
Social and traditional networking shouldn't be at war. Use your online presence to support and reinforce your networking position. Activity on LinkedIn can be very beneficial for research and keeping up to date with contacts both old and new.