After all, if you don’t get out there and spread the word about what you do and how you do it, then who will.

Networking comes in many forms, and frankly, you can network all day and every day: over breakfast, during the morning, at lunchtimes, in the afternoon, after work, and in the evening. Not forgetting the networking opportunities online. Which is why choosing what kind of networking suits best you, and your business, is so important.

And why we at Business for Breakfast, strive to make networking fun, easy, relaxed, but structured and effective to make sure you get the best from it.

One of the first things we say to our networkers – those who are new to it, and maybe visiting one of our BforB groups as a guest – is to make sure you bring plenty of business cards. Yes, even in this electronic age, business cards are still a vital tool in promoting yourself, and what you do and offer. You may come to a meeting, chat away to fellow members and guests, and chance across people you know that you would like to do business with – either as a potential client, or as someone who could be of help to you. Swapping business cards is the easiest way to make sure that you follow up the contact, arrange to meet for a 1-to-1, and then hopefully do business, or give business. But a business card can do more than simply give out your contact details. It is also a great marketing tool, too. A well thought out business card, for instance, has the potential to engage conversation – it can provoke comment and interest. Another thought is this: networkers collect lots of cards during the course of a meeting, and plenty of them never see the light of day once back in the office, and they’re filed away in a draw. But a business card that gets noticed, and leaves a lasting impression, is the one that might, just, be kept on a desk, or followed up. Don’t forget, a business card needs to fit into a wallet, or a card holder. Make them too big, or even too chunky, and they’ll be filed with all the others. The card must also have your contact details showing clearly: your name, phone number(s), email address, and website being the most important.

Don’t forget your company logo, and an outline of what you do A well-designed card adds further value, making an immediate, and even lasting, impression, and prompting immediate response: “…I like your card, very impressive…” and immediately you are striking up conversation.

A professional looking business card, like a well-designed website, strikes an immediate good impression with someone you meet for the first time. And when you’re networking, first impressions can make an impact. Networking is such an important part of the marketing mix. At a Business for Breakfast meeting, turning armed with a good business card is like taking an extra member of the sales team.

And through a good 60 seconds pitch into the mix, and you’re cooking on gas. But that’s for another blog…