Are you getting results from the time you spend networking? I am sometimes asked by clients, before we start working together, if networking is productive time. If your referral sources are not getting you all the business you can handle, perhaps you should consider how you are networking. Even If you get all the referrals you can handle, how will you water your referral tree if you stop networking? Here are some tips to make your networking successful.

1. Many people think the purpose for going to a business networking event is to meet potential clients.  This is no longer the case.  Networking is about building trust and relationships. This is not to say you will not meet prospects at networking events because you very well may.  However, meeting someone at a
networking event is typically the beginning of the relationship.
2. If your networking is not yielding results, then ask yourself what your goals are so you can pick the networking groups and channels that will help you get what you are looking for. Are you looking for education, resources, making contacts with connectors, volunteering, or just looking to connect with prospects? Are the people and resources there that can get you what you are looking for?
3. You may want to consider getting involved. Look for volunteer positions that will connect you to the resources and people you desire. This is a great way to get to know key people and stay top of mind.
4. Become known as a resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them. If you are successfully connecting people to what they are there for, you can cash in on the influential power of reciprocation. This will enable you to build your “sales team” and you can educate and train them to provide you with what you are looking for.
5. Be ready with your elevator pitch. This includes that one sentence response to “what do you do” that is compelling enough to continue the conversation with interest. Be able to clearly articulate what you do and why, for whom, and what makes your doing it special or different from others doing the same thing.
Sometimes stories can be an effective way to do this.
6. Ask open-ended questions that will open up the discussion and show listeners that you are interested in them.
7. Be able to articulate what you are looking for and how others may help you. Too often people in conversations ask, “How may I help you?”,  and no immediate answer comes to mind.
8. Have a pre-planned call-to-action and follow up agenda.
9. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them.  Respect and honor that, and your referrals will grow.
10. Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, qualify and ask if you could get together.

Following the approach that you are there to help others will force you to follow these concepts. In doing so you will uncover opportunities to help people strategic for you and in turn help yourself.