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Key steps to effective networking at an event

As a person who has written a number of articles on networking and an avid networker boiling down my advice to five tips is not an easy task, but here goes.
Tip #1- Be prepared
When going to a networking event review the topic and if possible the list of attendees. Identify who you would like to meet and why
Tip #2- Write down, how you could benefit the people who you want to meet
The emphasis on networking seems to be on the self. How can I benefit. While this is important, the most valuable, is how you can benefit the person you are going to speak with. Have this well thought out.
Tip #3- Be Clear as to what they in turn could do for you
The key here is to be modest in your expectations of people you just met. Relationship building is not a “one night stand.” I have been at events where people ask me to refer them for jobs when I just met them five minutes before. This is unrealistic and rude. Asking for the possibility of a brief informal informational meeting is more realistic.
Tip #4- Always open the conversation with them talking about themselves
Too many networkers practice their elevator speech and when meeting people begin by presenting themselves. By doing this, what have you learned about them. Absolutely, nothing. As a young man when meeting a young lady that I was interested in, I always began by asking them about themselves. This worked very well for me. I was able to match their interests with mine, thus establishing rapport. It’s same thing with networking. If you match interests with them, they will be interested in you.
Tip #5- Follow up is essential
After every networking event I attend I follow up with an email or telephone call to implement the next step. This is one of the biggest failures of networker, not following up. Make sure you connect on social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook if they are on them and periodically connect to them. If there is reason to meet go for that. Never appear to be over anxious. Desperate people drive others away.

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