So you're an avid networker. You attend all of the events, and in the lyrics of the old Cheers song, "everybody knows your name." Yet despite more trips to the rubber-chicken buffet, you still don't have anything more than a stack of business cards and no real prospects in sight. Here are three things you should do after the networking event:
Email - I always like to send an email to my potential business first. Some people prefer phone calls, but e-mail is my "pick-my-poison" choice follow-up method. I recommend you give it at least 2-3 days (kind of like the rules of when should I call after you meet someone new) and then shoot them an email.
Coffee - I like coffee as a generic meeting device. I don't like lunch, because that can get expensive if you have a lot of follow-up meetings. Coffee is $3.50 and if nothing else, you've gained a friend from the meeting, $3.50 for a good, ole cup of Joe is nothing off your marketing budget. I also found that in the early days, people would use lunch meetings for a free meal ticket when they had no intention of doing business. Dinner can go that way, too. Now if I really like the person and just want to hang out then lunch or dinner is fine.
Phone - after the coffee meeting and you think there is interest in further exploration, make sure you pick up the phone this time. Some people are huge texting folks; I'm not a big texter. I do text with certain people, because that is their thing, but I feel a good, old-fashioned phone call with a real voice behind it is much better and effective, too.