My opinion is basically in line with comments 1 and 2 from Shanelle. I believe the best networking occurs when you focus on how you can help the people you meet rather than on how they can help you. It's a better approach for building a relationship, and the more people you offer to help or actually help, the more you'll eventually get in return from those connections. You don't want to come across as someone who is networking so obviously just to get something from those you meet. And, yes, you should definitely spend more time listening to those you meet, with appropriate and valuable response at the right times during the conversation. The next day at the latest, follow up with your new connection to let them know that you enjoyed your discussion with them, to remind them of how you are willing to help them, invite them to connect on a social network, and even provide a link to an article or resource related to topics of your discussion. Networking with new people should be about establishing an initial relationship and building trust in that relationship. You'll know when the time is right to ask for what you're seeking from them.
Here is an article I wrote a few years ago on this subject. I hope that hit helps:
1. Listen more then you talk. You will learn more that way.
2. Think of ways you can give rather than receive.
3. Only offer a business card if the person asks. People often just shove them at everyone. :(
4. Jot down details about the person on the back of the business card after they leave. It will help you remember them.
5. Follow up
6. Stay in touch
I fully agree with Mary-Alice and Gordon. I like to do business with people I like (and I refuse to work with difficult or troublesome people!) — so I especially try to cultivate business friendships with people I admire and click with. I will give them free professional advice and any other help I can. Sometimes those eventually turn into income-producing relationships, sometimes not; but I believe that basic principle is why I still love what I do (advertising/marketing) after many years of doing it.
Always start with a friendly note, once connected say "try ones best to assist or share ideas" and over time do check back or sent some info which you feel would be of a value to the connected individual. Communication and maintaining is key because in return one might gain insights or opportunities from each other.
take participate in discussion and then provide your suggestions which build trust that you are worth person to connect..
Agree with Kim and Mary. For me, networking's purpose is not about finding clients. It is about meeting smart people, doing different things from what I do, or doing the same things differently. As long as the other person is willing to talk and share their experiences, there is always something to learn or contribute. I have recently brought together a bunch of startups to collaborate within themselves, without having any long-term or short-term material motive. Just thought that connecting them with each other would help them. I did get one intangible benefit though. It made me feel good :).
I will add tho this list, read people carefully. People who take will not make good clients down the road. Put more into honest good people (even if they seem to have no potential benefit to you) and it will often come back to assist you.
It is often the free favours I do for people that turn into the largest profit items over time.
In essence, work with good people and they will in turn want to work with you (if you are also a good person).
I like to always end an interaction with someone with "What can I do for you?" and mean it. Who can I connect this person to? What programmers or marketing person can I send your way? etc
I completely agree Kim. Networking is about building long-term relationships. If you focus on the short-term sale, you will miss out on many valuable relationships. There are people I've met years ago, that are only now being able to help me professionally and vice versa. I am glad I've build those friendships over time and didn't focus on the immediate sale. Plus, it's fun meeting people you genuinely like and building those relationships.
Build relationships with those that you meet, don't just try to sell!