How many times have you gone networking and at the end felt like you accomplished nothing?

1. Research what the event is about, and who might be there. If you can find out what the common link is between all of you being there, you can use that in your introduction. One step better is to create a list of the people or type of people you want to meet. For example, I need to meet business owners or HR professionals. I would like to meet 5 of them at this event. Remember you have to follow up with each of these people. To run around and randomly grab cards and not follow up is a tragedy.

2. Have post it notes in your car or bag. Once you are done networking, write a few key facts on your post it note and attach it to the cards. This way you know a little about the people, if you find this stack of cards later, you wont be asking yourself, “Who the heck is this?”

3. Have some pre stamped thank you cards with your return address available. Immediately write out a quick thank you note and put it in the mail. This will help when you follow up later.

4. Plan out some time in the next week to make follow up phone calls. Now is the time to pull out those post it notes and arrange meetings. The post it note should remind you of the conversations your were having with this person. Is there some way you can help them gain a perspective client, or make a connection for them. Ask if they would like to make a coffee date. When you meet up with them is when you are able to ask them for referrals for your business.

Go with a plan and networking will be easier.

Originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle on June 19th, 2013.