Whether you are a seasoned networker or just starting out, you will have probably heard about one-to-one’s. If you are more of a natural networker these may come easily to you and to the more introverted networker they might sound uncomfortable, intimidating and, at best, just plain awkward.

A one-to-one is a fantastic opportunity to really get to know about the person in front of you, it fast tracks building rapport, trust, and most importantly establishing an ongoing business relationship.

If you have resisted one-to-one’s previously, here are 5 steps to get you started

1. Know who you want to network with.

Having a clear idea of the kind of people that you would like to be connected with is going to save you a lot of time. Is it referrals for potential clients, to create strategic alliances, market research, to find speaking gigs. Knowing which people you would like to be connected makes it easier for yourself and the person in front of you.

Consider what you are then able to offer the other person in return. It could be a referral, business information or advice. A great question to ask if you’re unsure is ‘How can I help you today?’

2. Planning.

Planning one-to-ones around your networking diary can be an effective use of your time. You may like to schedule them before or after a networking event that you’ll both be in attendance of.

Before you meet always confirm the date and the time with each other, there’s nothing worse than sitting around for half an hour to find your in the wrong place. Have clear timings so that you are both aware of what time you need to finish.

Be prepared by looking at their website and social media presence in advance. It shows great initiative and looks professional.

3. During the meeting.

Be curious. Ask questions about the other person’s business and industry and be open to what you might learn from it. Expressing interest is a great way to increase comfort levels and to open up. Share your objectives or outcomes that you would like from the meeting with each other. Listen to what is being said as oppose to waiting for your turn to speak.

Are you networking to sell to the person in front of you, or to create meaningful business relationships that are mutually beneficial. If it’s the former then you will need to adjust your strategy. Networkers rarely attend a meeting to buy something so don’t go to sell.

4. Follow up.

You hear it all the time yet an alarming number of people rarely do.

If you want to create lasting relationships, do what you say you will and follow up. Send a thank you note and include any relevant information that was discussed in your meeting. Connect with them on Social Media and start thinking about how you can help them depending on their requirements.

You might ask if they would like to be included in your newsletter (never assume that they do!) or signpost them to your website.

5. Have fun.

One-to-one’s are a fabulous opportunity to really be curious about the person in front to you. Remembering the concept; 6 degrees of separation, there is a good chance that the person in front of you will be able to connect you with the right contacts. Take the mindset that you are there to learn and to be of service and enjoy the process.