First, develop a plan. Networking is more than just saying hello. It's the smart way to build long-lasting business relationships. Decide who your best prospects are and where you're likely to find them. Then go where they are: committees, conferences, meetings or associations.
Learn to make small talk. Ask open-ended questions. And don't forget to listen. Don't think of networking as just a sales opportunity. Instead, consider it a mission-a chance to learn something. The sales will come later.
Always follow up. If you don't, you've wasted your time, not to mention your energy and money. Most important, be prepared. Networking opportunities can-and do-crop up unexpectedly.
Excerpted from Get Smart: 365 Tips To Boost Your Entrepreneurial IQ