In this generation almost everyone networks, even housewives. Although it isn’t complicated, if you are doing it for your business and not just for personal benefits, it does require a few extra steps to guarantee efficiency. There are many technical ways such as various blogging sites, Facebook and Twitter; just to name a few but don’t forget about the good old fashioned meet and greet. Here are five tips that will have you networking like a pro:

1. Understanding your Target Market

Research, research, research! Through research you can find networking opportunities to mingle with your target market. Local functions or events in your area that will have your target clients or social media that can keep you updated and allow you to update others of your professional agendas.  This is not about just meeting as many people as you can but about meeting the right people.

Research the type of careers people would have that would need your services. If the massage you specialize in relaxes people then zone in on careers that are particularly tiring or stressful.

Since word of mouth is the key element of networking, get to know one or two people in as many fields as possible. The real estate agent you bought that house from may have a client who plays sports may be in the market for a deep tissue massage, which just happens to be your area of expertise! One of your clients son’s may have a vehicle that broke down, which you could recommend your mechanic who is so thrilled he may send his wife to you for a massage. Card exchange with other massage therapists also because if the client needs a massage that isn’t your specialty, you have a good referral, which may come back to you in a referral via the client as well as the massage therapist.

Look up website that is regularly updated that can be useful knowledge for your field. There is the ever so popular Craigslist and Facebook but there are other sites that specialize in your fields that you can find very useful and will allow you advertisement.

As you can see, the reasons and areas to research are endless and would need to be updated semi regularly. These are good reasons why if you are going to network, be in it for the long haul. Be knowledgeable of exactly what you bring to the table.

2. Know your Strengths—Know What People Want

Networking is the most powerful marketing tool when it is a win-win with both parties involved. By knowing your strengths, you can give them your best and help others build their clientele, by doing so; they will do the same for you, in return. It’s a scratch my back and I will scratch yours world but it works!

3. Set Networking Goals

Set goals for yourself prior to going into anything. Don’t walk into a gala or event unprepared. Set goals and know what you want to accomplish, otherwise you will be just wandering aimlessly around, gathering some numbers and by the end of the day you haven’t gotten anywhere.

4. You have to Give to Get

If you selflessly give to someone, it will come back to you, according to “Law of Reciprocity.” Whether if is in monetary, services, time or effort. With this in mind, when you are doing unto others, do as you would want done to you. If you can help someone else expand their clientele via referral, the likelihood that they will refer someone to you, when needed, is strong—thus expanding your clientele.

Offer discounts for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and certain areas of employment. Possibilities are endless when contriving various marketing strategies via networking.

5. Follow up Swiftly

It doesn’t take much effort to stay on top of following up. From the comfort of you laptop you can send and email or a post on their Facebook page. However the more personable you are, the more likely you will build a solid connection. Have coffee or lunch to celebrate a new shared client is a good way to ensure that someone feel more comfortable with you, and then they will be more likely to refer or obtain your services for themselves. Avoiding a follow up may just make your previous network attempts in vain.

Networking is not instant gratification, like all great things—it will pay off with a little work. By putting the time in to gain the trust that client needs, preparing yourself to “ride or die” networking, you will be a pro waiting on the rewards to soar in.