Networking can be a very tedious process, however, it’s something that must be done to keep the sales pipelines going strong. Truth be told, sales is an ever-changing field – and with new technology coming constantly, these changes are happening quickly. One aspect of sales that will never change is the need for new prospects. As our sales discussions grow to be much more customer-centric, sales professionals have had to upgrade their networking techniques.

No new prospects means no new clients – and we all know that no new clients means no paycheck. Prospecting is simply inevitable and it usually tends to be the hardest and most time-consuming part of the job. While sales reps can’t avoid prospecting, they can certainly make it easier for themselves. Having a go-to list of networking places to find prospects, and a procedure for each scenario, we no longer have to wonder where or how to find prospects.

One of the best ways to do that is to join and attend networking events. You can go with your chamber, 20/30’s club or local BNI, just to name a few. It is very simple to find all sorts of events around your local area, all you have to do is ask Google.

CEO’s, company owners and even salespeople, cannot deny the power of professional networking and the improvements it can add to your career’s success. Sometimes people will choose a deal over another just because of the relationship they have with the second party.

Experts agree that the most connected people are often the most successful – remember, it’s all about who you know. However, the question to ask, once invited how should we act during these events. While we can’t tell you how to act, we can surely tell you what not to do.

Here are three things what NOT to do during a networking event:

Don’t just show up, be prepared. Prior to attending these events, do your research and make sure you are targeting. As a sales professional, you can’t just throw a net out to sea and expect a catch. Make sure you pick something that is viable to your region. Targeting is crucial when prospecting. When attending these networking events is to make sure you are going for the right reasons. Why are you attending and targeting your specific audience? Is it out of obligation? Are you going after this specific group because it is something you actually care about? Or is this something that will simply work best for you?

Don’t expect to feel welcomed. While this may sound harsh, it is often the truth. This is a long game strategy; most people don’t think about their IT needs until something goes wrong. Plant your seed, nurture it and wait for it to grow. More than likely, you will be ignored the first meeting/event. You can expect a brush off, you’re fresh and people have still not considered you a key attendee. Attending is only the first step. In order for these networking events to actually pay off, you must attend with regularity and consistency. Once you attend a couple of times you will see these people begin to consider part of the circle.

Don’t sound like everyone else. Prepare your 60 seconds of fame. At some networking events, you’ll get the opportunity to speak for 60 seconds. Most people do the exact same thing. “I’m such and such from such and such company and we do x. If you need my services let me know.” Do you really think that people listen to that? Absolutely not. They’re busy crafting their own spiel, and ignoring your blather. Instead, turn the pitch on its head. Make it about your customer. Tie into something relevant, like security. Something like, “You know when you get a potential phishing email, and you immediately begin to wonder how many people in your company received it, clicked, and now opened your company up to a breach? We fix that problem.” That is more relatable, catches attention, and will be much more likely pique curiosity than the traditional elevator speech.