I read the following about a month ago and it bears repeating - three basic things we all should be doing CONSISTENTLY that just make sense....
1. Know exactly who your ideal customers are. If someone wants to know more about how they can help and you tell them, ‘anyone' or ‘everyone' could be customer of yours, you will not get the help you want. First, it's rarely true that everyone can be a customer of any business and second, people can and will remember specifics where they will forget about generalities. The more specific you are about who you want to connect with, the easier you make it for someone else to help you.
2. Figure out who would be a good referral business for you. If you have a catering business, what other businesses are trying to target the same customers with different products or services. As a caterer, wedding planners or event facility managers would be excellent contacts to have. Focus your networking efforts on finding these types of people at networking events instead of embarking on a quest to meet as many random people as possible.
3. Instill confidence in the people you meet. Everyone wants to be connected with a winner. So, look the part and dress appropriately for your business. It doesn't mean you have to be dressed to the nines but being well groomed, having well matched, pressed clothes on, and having shoes that are shined or free of scuff marks tells a great deal about whom you are. For many, this translates into how well you run your business.
Effective networking is all about having a specific game plan for the event you are thinking of and making the people you come in contact with, glad to have met you. If you want to build a strong referral base and a personal brand that people will be all too happy to assist you with, follow these suggestions and practice, practice, practice. Good stuff!