On a hot July day several years ago people gathered in droves to drink, talk, and do business. This wasn't a convention, reception or staff outing. The event was called Young Professionals, a local business networking group for, as the name suggests, young working professionals. This event acted as a magnifying glass on the importance of networking in business.
The first thing you'll notice at an event like this will be the amount of people that attend. Discovering an opportunity like in the business world can be a refreshing feeling, especially to those that are constantly scrutinized at work. If nothing else, networking provides members of the business community an outlet to reassure one another that their current job doesn't have to be the only job they ever do. The first step in networking is putting oneself out there to be met by others, and engaging in conversation about business, and life with other likeminded individuals.
The next thing you'll notice at the event are the prevalence of business cards. The importance of business cards in networking is essential. If you have business cards be sure to bring them everywhere, if you don't yet have a card, make one. Many of your employees might be people you'll meet networking for business. If they don't have a business card you won't be able to hire them. Having a business card and distributing it freely will help you become successful at networking. If you need reassurance, look at those that profit off networking the most, real estate agents, stock brokers, and other broker types. Do you ever see a drought in business cards among these individuals? Some people have stacks of cards high enough to hit an 11 foot ceiling.
Another thing you'll notice happening at the event are the unabashed marketing of products, and services. Market your product when networking. What if you don't have a product for sale? You may have a service, or an idea, whatever it may be, market it while networking. You will be surprised at how many people can help you achieve your dream.
A few things you'll want to bring to a meeting are a pen, pad, and something to hold things in, like a portfolio. While networking be sure to take notes if necessary, ask questions of others, and capture the moment. Many rely on fate to bring them to success in business, and life. But for those seasoned veterans of business, and life will tell you, diligence and hard work are as important as anything else.
When you are networking try your best to get the most out of the situation. Next time you are at a networking event, instead of enjoying the free pigs in a blanket, make the most of it by actively networking.