Its very important when networking to keep in mind not to waste time. Its easy to fall into the pitfalls of networking and not accomplish the goals you want to accomplish with networking.
Here are a few time wasters I have identified:
Going with a friend. While it’s comforting to have a friend there with you, unless you have a plan, it doesn’t usually work. When you go with a friend or co-worker you usually end up spending all of your time talking with them instead of reaching out to meet new people. If you go with a friend, make a plan that you will each connect with 2 or 3 new people each and then schedule a follow up appointment with the three of you. If you bring a friend and utilize this method, you will increase your connections while spending half the time you would by yourself.
Wasting time with people you already know. Again, because you are secure talking with people you know well, it’s hard to get out of your comfort zone and talk to new people. Its much more comfortable spending time talking to the same people you already know, but its probably not going to do much to grow your business. Make a goal to meet a specified number of people at each event.
Just sitting by yourself. I have seen this at more than one event. In talking with a fellow networker we both agreed that it’s about stepping out of your comfort zone. When you go to an event, everyone there is in the same situation. Most people feel awkward when attending these events, especially if they only know one or two people. Again, make sure you talk to people you don’t know as awkward as it might feel.
Basically, get out of your comfort zone, have a plan, and meet new people!