Effective networking is the best way to generate leads and improve sales. Follow these 12 easy steps and you will see an immediate improvement in results.

1. Set a quota for yourself
It is easy to find an excuse to not go to a networking event. To help with this, set a quota for yourself for networking events that you attend.

For example, set a rule that you must attend at least one (or two or three) networking events per week. Hold yourself accountable to this and if you do, you will be networking more than you would otherwise.

2. Be productive at networking events
Core to effective networking is trying to interact with as many people as possible while at a networking event. To help with that follow these key rules:

  • Get there early, don’t worry about being fashionably late. It is easier to meet people before the crowd shows up and you can sometimes become the host.
  • Minimize the time you spend talking to and sitting with people you already know.
  • Only talk to each person for 5 minutes, 10 at the most.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover when determining who to talk to.

3. Have a good elevator pitch
The question you will get asked most is “What do you do”. You know this is going to be asked so have a good answer.

It can help to have an answer that is both easy to explain and understand. One option here is to say something that is more of a value statement. This would be a one sentence statement that says how you help more so than mentioning what you sell. For example:

We help sales managers to improve the performance of every person on their team.

4. Make it about the other person
During your time talking with someone, make it as much about them as possible. In other words, keep the conversation focused on their world as much as you can. This will help you to seem friendlier, more interesting, and more fun to talk to.

It can be easy for them to send the conversation back toward you and when this happens, answer their questions and then try to get the light shining back on them to help with effective networking.

5. Ask good questions
The easiest way to make the conversation about the other person is to ask good questions. Here are some examples of good networking questions:

What do you do?
How long have you been doing that?
Is there something that motivated you to get into that type of work?
What do you like most about what you do?
What brought you to this event?
Have you found this to be a productive event for you?
Are there any other networking events that you recommend?
How can I help you to be successful?
What does a good prospect look like for you?


6. Listen to what they say
Listen closely to what the other person says for effective networking. This will not only help you to learn more about the other person to improve your ability to network with them, but it will also help you to build a better relationship.

7. Focus on the right goal
The biggest mistake that people make is trying to sell their product at a networking event. When people do this, they are not focusing on the right goal for effective networking.

By simply shifting from this and focusing on the right goal, you will immediately become a better networker. Here are two good goals to focus on instead of selling your product.

Establishing a referral partner: Instead of trying to get someone that you meet at a networking event to be a customer, try to focus on making them a referral partner for you. They likely have some sort of network of their own and if they can get you some sort of exposure to all the people that they know, that could be more lucrative then trying to sell directly to them.

Selling a conversation: 5 to 10 minutes is most likely not enough time for you to fully sell your product or service. As a result, a better goal is to focus more on trying to sell the step of just having a conversation on another day.

>> 12 Keys for Effective Networking (Part II) >>