With all of the emphasis on social media, it’s easy to believe you can run a business and never leave your house. For most of us, there is an opportunity to significantly increase your business if you add face-to-face networking to your marketing mix.

When you set out to attend a face-to-face networking event, these simple rules of engagement  will make the process more productive.

1. Be Brief.

When you meet someone at a networking event, don’t treat the interaction as if this is your only opportunity ever to tell them about you and your business. Give them one or two pieces of information and then turn the conversation to them. If they are interested, they will ask follow up questions. By asking about their business, you can quickly determine if there is a reason for a longer conversation.

2. Be Ready to Share.

Everyone comes to networking events hoping to meet people who might become customers or who can help them connect with potential clients. People are more likely to make introductions when you demonstrate a willingness to help them. As you engage in networking conversations, be sure to ask “who do you want to meet?”  Then, if you can help, follow up on the introduction.

3.  Leave the Sales Pitch at Home.

Do not walk into the room with the intention of selling your product or service to anyone who will listen.  Remember, people did not come to the event looking for a new lawyer, financial planner or banker.  They came to meet people, be a person first.  If it is appropriate, you will earn the right to make a sales pitch down the road.

4. Follow Up Promptly.

People rarely remember what they had for lunch yesterday, so it’s unlikely they will remember you unless you reach out. Send a short note or better yet a LinkedIn invitation along with a little information to refresh their memory. DO NOT AUTOMATICALLY ENROLL THEM IN YOUR E-NEWSLETTER.  Unless they have specifically expressed an interest in receiving it, this is considered spamming. I am actually less likely to introduce someone who does this to one of my contacts. I don’t want to give them an opportunity to spam someone else.

5. Stay in Touch.

Networking relationships are not built with one interaction, so look for ways to stay in touch and keep the conversation going. A quick phone call or personal note from time to time will help you stay top of mind so they are likely to think of you when the opportunity arises.

Ready to try to apply some of these tools? Make a commitment to attend a networking event this week.