Never EVER go without being prepared. I’m sure you all would agree that going grocery shopping without a list is disastrous, even if you’re just running in to grab a few items. Without a prepared list you’ll end up in aisles you should have never ended up in. I think we all know what happens when we bring home items like cookies and ice cream that we had no business buying.

Like grocery shopping, networking takes preparation before walking in the room. You don’t necessarily need to make out a list, but here are a few things to think about before attending a networking event:

What or who do I specialize in? Is it a specific industry? A particular service? Or maybe it’s both?

For example, do you manage social media for restaurants? Knowing this will gear you up for the next question…

Who are my strategic connections? In other words, someone who connects you to your clients.

For example: A social media specialist who helps restaurants would benefit greatly from meeting a credit card processing company also focused on restaurants, a payroll company, or an accountant focused on the same industry.

As you can start to see, when networking, it pays to be VERY specific. You don’t do marketing for everyone. You’re not looking to meet anyone. No one is going to introduce you to everyone.

If you’re networking right, you are there on a mission. You know the people you need to connect with in order to achieve your goals.

There are plenty of benefits to just knowing the answers to the above questions, such as:

You won’t waste your time in pointless follow-up meetings. There is nothing that will kill your time more than having coffee for an hour with someone who isn’t a good strategic connection. You already have plenty of friends. Spend your time connecting with people who can add value to your business and goals.

You’ll make stronger connections at events. When you’re working the room to find the very best connections for your business, you’ll quickly know who is wasting your time and who is worth talking to. This is very helpful when you get sucked into that 5-minute conversation you have no business being in.

Less time spent following up with pointless stacks of business cards. Yeah, it’s true. Not everyone you meet is worth a follow-up email. It’s perfectly OK if someone doesn’t fit in with your goals. It’s not rude, it’s being smart with your time.

I know some of this may sound a bit harsh. Turning down meetings, not following up with someone you just met, and excusing yourself from a pointless conversation but this is YOUR business we are talking about. If something or someone doesn’t match up with YOUR goals of YOUR business, you have every right to politely move on.

Are you ready to put these tips to work? You’re in luck, we’re hosting a networking event on October 22, 2015 – More info can be found here.