I once met a gentleman at a luncheon; we met for coffee a week later. Three years after that, I was contacted by a colleague of his and asked if I was interested in working with them on a training project. Although the original gentleman is no longer there, I have continued working with Clark College’s Economic & Professional Development program on a regular basis for the past seven years.
Networking is for meeting people but it’s the follow-up that makes a difference.
That’s where you start building relationships. Understand that you are not there to persuade that person to “buy” from you; you are there to learn about each other. Is he someone you would feel confident about introducing to your colleagues or friends, should they have need of his services? Does she seem knowledgeable about what she does – and have the ability to communicate with others? How well are you connecting with the other person? They may never have reason to directly do business with you, but they have contacts themselves, and you don’t know their needs.
Seeing results from that connection may take a few days, sometimes it may take a few years. Sometimes, you won’t see obvious results at all. It is still worth making that connection, because you just don’t know whom you might meet, and where it might lead.
How you greet people, how you appear to others as they people watch and how well you listen all impacts their impression. Make it a good one.