Networking events are not for everyone. If you do plan to use events as a marketing and BD tool, make sure you plan your approach. Here are seven top tips on how to plan your approach to networking events.

1. Choose events with a purpose in mind. Remind yourself why you are going. You are using your precious time to network and to make some useful connections, so make sure you aren't wasting energy. Will your potential targets/clients/introducers/referrers be attending? If not or you don't know, don't go.

2. Use inside contacts. If you know the event organiser ask if it will be worth your while attending.

3. Prepare for an event. You may consider some background research on key targets/people or at least know what they look like. Look at the event online – who are the presenters or sponsors?

4. Choose events that interest you. Your time is precious. You've got friends and family with whom you would much rather spend your time with. If you're going to be out, go somewhere you like. Think about aligning your networking with your interests such as running and music.

5. Avoid events with overly long presentations, speeches etc. If you're going to an event to network, it is not advantageous to spend 75% of that time listening to a keynote speaker or watch awards being handed out. Instead get their early, network, make your (pre-prepared) excuses and go home.

6. Plan and choose events with the intention of enjoying yourself. Keep reminding yourself that it is just another social event, another chance to meet someone interesting. Business will automatically follow when you begin to connect with people you like and vice versa.

7. Be realistic. Thinking about the plan/spreadsheet and your time and energy levels, what is going to work for you in terms of the number of events. Start with one per month and see how you get on.

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