It’s easy to sign up, pay, and then go to the event and get nothing out of it. Don’t do that to yourself. Seize this networking opportunity!

Business networking can have many excellent benefits to yourself and your business. They are a great way to build new connections and to meet potential customers. But they do take up precious time, so it is important to make the most of each event you attend.Whenever you attend a networking event, whether it’s a conference, seminar or business club meeting, your work has just started. Too many individuals walk away from networking events feeling good but do nothing. No later than twenty-four hours later, send an email. Do not wait till the following the next day or week. Odds are you will not get around to it, and even when you do, the recipient might not recall who you’re. Send a follow-up email to everybody you took a card from. Even when you do not see an immediate connection, simply say thanks. Make notes of your experience – bullet point thoughts or write them across your whiteboard.

Kick your follow-ups to the next level by personalising them. Make your potential new network feel valued by showing you genuinely listened to them at the event. Instead of simply connecting on LinkedIn, go the extra mile and personalise the connection request. Instead of sending a basic, generic email, send a customised email highlighting an interesting thing you talked about. Networking events provide an amazing opportunity to make new connections, increase your customer base, and learn new skills. And the good news is that all of this is easier than it may seem.

Simply break your networking strategy down into three stages:

Pre-event: preparing in advance
Live event: finding people to talk to and asking the right questions
Post-event: following up with your new connections

When looking at your diary next, try to identify at least one day each month where you can reserve time to spend at a local networking event. Use the tips above to make sure it becomes one of the most important, productive days you spend out of the office.