Be a taker, not a giver. 

Networking events present an unusual opportunity to receive business cards on a monstrous level. This presents a great opportunity to follow up and show appreciation for the conversation. Set a goal to collect more business cards than you hand out at your next event.

Become a master at conversation. 

People enjoy conversation. Practice beginning conversations, and actively listening to the other participant. This simple skill will open countless doors to new contacts.

This is not a time for phone calls.

It is very difficult to approach someone who is on the phone. When you are talking on your phone during a networking event, you are stifling conversations that could be promoting your business. Phone calls can wait.

Don’t be afraid to pay.

Paid networking events may mean the participants are more serious or more developed. Choosing paid events over free events can create a better foundation of productive contacts who have already established themselves, and therefore, can help you get established.

Follow up!

The worst thing you can do as an agent is spend hours networking, and then not follow up. Use a contact management program to organize your contacts, and keep an ongoing schedule of whom and when to call. This will help prevent anyone from falling through the cracks.

Have a plan.

Find out who will be attending the event, and make a list of specific people you would like to connect with. This doesn’t have to be followed to the letter, of course, but it will help keep you focused and on track while mingling at your event.

Give referrals to get referrals.

People are much more likely to compliment someone after they have received a compliment. In order to get referrals, give them out freely. The more you dote on a company, the more they will dote on you.

This is no time for rekindling

Take time to say hello to people you already know, but don’t get hung up in lengthy conversations with them. The point of a networking event is to meet new contacts. While old contacts are important, make sure not to make them your top priority.

Your name tag and smile are better than any card you have.

When people meet someone who is friendly and sociable, they remember. Be certain your name tag is visible, and you have a friendly smile on your face in order to be the most approachable and memorable you can be.