Last Friday I was at an event with amazing speakers put on by the City of Toronto for Entrepreneurs. One thing I like most about being an entrepreneur in the city of Toronto is all the support that is available. The community is amazing.

Part of the event was a networking lunch. I always like to sit back for a bit and size up the room as it can tell you lots that is going on. I saw one thing play itself out at least 4 times and it was disturbing. Some people just do not know how to network!

Let me explain. Several times people came up to me and said take my business card. No conversation, no explanation of what there business is – just the akward shove the business card into my hand and move on to the next victim. This is NOT networking. In all these cases I left the business card on the table in front of me, never to look at them again.

Networking does not mean call your favorite printer, print 1000 cards and race at a show to give them out. At the end of the day you have wasted time, money and energy with this approach. It generally does not work.

What does working is having engaging conversations with people. Get to know them and their business. This is the start of building a relationship. If the conversation goes well, ask them if they would like your business card. Do not force it on them. This will have far better results then just shoving it on them.

If you want to be an amazing networker take this one step further. What I like to do is in the few days after the even, email everyone who gave me a business card. In the email I will recall part of the conversation and ask if I can help them in anyway.  This makes it a bit personal and helps you stand out. Most people do not do this. Instead they come home with a pile of business cards and toss them on a desk or in a drawer. People need to learn how to do followup. It helps.

Think about it. By networking better you will take building relationship to an entire new level. Networking events will be more productive and you will enjoy them more. Please share a comment in the box below on how you like to network.