Networking is an important marketing tool as it will increase awareness of your business and will allow you to gain the knowledge and expertise to enhance your credibility as a professional marketer.

Here is a basic guide composing of 6 things that you can do to ensure you are on track to becoming more successful at networking.

1. Get the basics right!

Look – maintain eye contact with the person in front of you. Avoid letting your eyes wander around the room. This will reassure the person that you are talking to that you are interested in what they have to say which means they are more likely to be open and honest with you.

Listen – listen actively
Active listening means fully concentrating on what is being said. This involves being seen to be listening such as nodding your head for example and maintaining eye contact to show that you are engaged in listening to them.

Being patient and neutral in your approach to the conversation will also be very beneficial in getting the most out of it, allowing short silences in the conversation so that you don’t jump in too early.

2. Be prepared – the key is to sell yourself and be proactive.
What unique value do you offer? Prepare a short and concise introduction of who you are and what you have to offer.

Have your first question prepared before you go up to someone; ask them why they have come to the event for example, which is a direct and informative question. The Five W’s who, what, why, when and where are a useful place to start when coming up with open-ended informative questions.

3. Set yourself a goal – this can be something you want to learn more about or specific people you would like to meet before you attend the event. Use these to document how well the event went afterwards.

4. Be positive – go in with an open mind and a positive attitude. Every networking event is an opportunity, even if you feel that you will get nothing out of it there may be benefits further down the line. It is important to show yourself in a good light as the people you meet will have a lasting first impression of you.

5. Build bridges – look for ways in which you can offer a solution to the problems that they may be facing. If you are unable to do this, there might be someone you know you may be able to help them, and who knows they may return the favour in the future.

6. Stay in contact – Always follow up a conversation promptly if you have promised to do so. When you do, mention something specific that you enjoyed speaking about with that person; this is an easy way to help you to maintain a positive attitude during a follow-up conversation.

By following these six simple rules you will be on your way to becoming a more professional networker.