For many companies, networking is a very important aspect of their business. In particular, this is especially true for micro-enterprises and small businesses who might not have the resources to splash on advertising.

Considering the annual business networking event being organized by JCI Malta this evening, this is the perfect opportunity to share some tips on how to make the most out of a relationship after first contact.

1) Understand who the other person is and what his/her concerns are.
Networking is not about selling your services but about building relationships between people. The best way to do this is to understand who you are speaking to, find out what they are looking for, and then help them get it. Manage that and the relationship is off to a great start.

2) Don’t dismiss anyone as irrelevent.
A common mistake is that networkers only look for potential customers and suppliers. Being creative and open-minded and allowing yourself to focus on helping others means you’ll be building relationships which may prove valuable in the future in ways you cannot presently imagine.

3) Introduce people you may think the contact ought to know.
The more you meet people, the more you’ll be able to use your network as a resource to help new contacts. Become aware of these possible links of mutual benefit and use them to help out. Something good might be in it for you.

4) Connect online.
At conferences and networking events, you may meet tens of people in one evening. However, after a few days putting faces and names to these people may prove probematic. But what is the point of meeting people if you’re going to forget them in 48 hours? Email and social media such as LinkedIn are very helpful in aiding you to remember important details about your contacts and they also help you to keep in touch. UseĀ  these tools!

5) Meet up.
Despite the rise of online social media, nothing beats an honest face-to-face meeting to get to know somebody. People are some times different online than they are offline. If you’ll be working with a contact it will probably be offline so, this still remains the most important way to get to know people.

What do you think of these tips? Do you have any more of your own?