At M Communications, the one thing I see all the time is effective networking and non-effective networking. Here are a couple of pointers for those of you not sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.
1. Do not expect immediate business. networking is about relationship building. Time after time again I see people attend and never return because they did not see ROI the very same day. Really get to know the people you meet and keep in mind that they might not be your ideal client, but they might have some people in their Rolodex that are.
2. Do not run around shoving business cards or promos in people's hands. Here is one word that describes this activity: annoying. Also, when people tend to shove unwanted marketing materials in my hand they end up in the "special file" (otherwise known as the garbage can). Last, if you are participating in this activity you are killing trees.
3. Maximize your exposure. Maximize your exposure at networking events (the event's that are a good fit for your business of course). For example, speak, get a display table (not to dance on) or sponsor an event.