Networking groups do not work for 90% of the people who attend or join. If you’re not going to network right – don’t do it at all. The odds are against you.
In the beginning, I built this business through networking - and I learned that networking is NOT about collecting business cards and burying them on your desk.
Be a giver. "Giver's gain." I recently picked up several issues of the Coaches' Association magazine. I sent them, with a short note and my business card, to coaching contacts I met at a recent event held at Duquesne University. Each called me to thank me for thinking of them and providing them with real information - and 3 of them signed up to be clients!
Mind your manners: When a contact that I meet has their address on their business card or website - I always send a hand written note. I received so many favorable comments from this activity. In fact, in my local networking circle, members often point out that I am "the note girl!"
Trust: Though you may speak to someone who will never buy your product - chances are, if they like you - they will refer you.
Ask: If you seek information from contacts about what they do, you will learn more about their industry and what they need. For example, I love to work with a certain industry group. I always ask what they think their industry needs, what the trends are, what important events/conferences are coming up, etc.
Talk to everyone. Everyone is not a potential customer or referral for you. Spend more targeted time truly getting to know 3-5 people.
Sell Anything. Networking is not about selling your product or services to everyone that you meet. Frankly, it's tacky. If the potential client or referrer gets to know you – and not what you sell – they are more likely to buy from you.
Talk about how busy you are. This is a big reason that potential referrers do not refer business to you - because you tell them how busy you are! Certainly you want to sound successful, but make comments such as "There is always room for more," or "I have a solid practice now, but I am searching for more clients."