You just can’t. Instead, you have to pick and choose which events to attend that will give you the largest ROI. You spend your evening passing out and receiving business cards, taking mental notes of those to call back later. After a couple hours, it can be quite tiring, especially if you go to one or two a day as I normally find myself.
What you may find after a few meetings is that you are meeting the same people over and over. While it is always great to be able to have people recognize your face for when you call on them, you really want to be able to reach as many leads as possible. Here is where social networking sites can help.
Most of us are familiar with MySpace, possibly more so for negative reasons exploited by the media than positive ones. But many businesses have created MySpace profiles to allow them to directly market their demographic. Businesses have a full range of options from blogs to special announcements (bulletins) to photo galleries, all for free. All it takes is someone with enough web savy to make regular updates (or someone with a 14-year-old).
If MySpace isn’t for you, perhaps you’d like to try Facebook. Recent Apple iPhone commercials showcase the phone’s ability to keep Facebook users updated of activity related to their Facebook pages. Think of Facebook as a reunion assistant; when you register, it immediately asks you for your location, high school and college and will help you locate other Facebook members who have the same listings for their profiles.
But if you want to keep things strictly business, then get registered at LinkedIn. You can sign up to connect with your current business contacts including co-workers and clients, but also get introduced to their business contacts. People who have done business with you may also leave recommendations of your work or services, and you can use your profile page as your personal sales tool. Additionally, the site offers informative articles related to careers and networking and even allows for user submitted questions and answers. And as an added bonus, LinkedIn profiles are often returned in search engine results, helping you to boost your SEO.
In a time of economic uncertainty, make the time to put online business networking tools to work. You just never know who you might reach.