Networking requires an investment of time, money and effort. Here are four ways to be sure your return on that investment is worthwhile.
Decide what you want
Why are your attending networking events? Are you looking for a new job? More business? Social contacts in a new home town? Whatever your purpose, stay focused on it, or things can slide into just another long lunch.
Attend the right event
If you are, say, a graphic designed looking for clients, why spend your time at an event for graphic designers? OK, you might be able to pick up some overload business from some designer who is super busy, but that's a very small poor to fish in. You'd be much better off mixing with folks from businesses who use design work. Seems obvious, but it's surprising how many people make this mistake.
Talk to the right people
Don't spend your valuable networking time chatting to people you already know, who ar not in your traget group. It's tempting, of course, because it's easy and fun-but it's not networking! Look for new people and make the effort to meet and greet them.
Keep track of your results
Every month or so, track back through your networking opportunities. Who did you meet? Where did you meet them? How did they fit with your reasons for being there? Did anyone help you achieve your objective?
Of course, you'll also meet people who are pleasant additions to your social circle, some of whom may even become friends. Do include them in your success picture, but if you find you make more casual acquaintances than the people you are there to meet, you may need to change your networking activites so that they bring you a higher Return On Investment.
Helen Wilkie is a professional keynote speaker, workshop leader and author specializing in applied communication, including networking. Read more articles on this and other communication subjects on her website at http://www.mhwcom.com Subscribe to Helen's free monthly e-zine, "Communi-keys", and get your free 40-page e-book, 23 ideas you can use RIGHT NOW to communicate and succeed in your business career!