All your social media efforts, blogging, and emails might not get you as far as one simple strategy: in-person networking. By building relationships with people in real time, you can pave the way for future sales success.

Still, few people actually master the art of smart networking. I’ve gleaned a few helpful strategies over my years of attending networking events to help you.

Practice Pre-Networking

Many events have an RSVP list available online, such as through Meetup.com or Eventbrite. This makes it easy for you to see who’s attending an upcoming event and do a little investigating on them. Connect with people you want to get to know on LinkedIn and other social platforms. If, after reviewing their profiles you find you have something in common with some of the other attendees (or they sound like your perfect customer), memorize their faces and make it a point to seek them out at the event. You’ll be able to say “I connected with you on LinkedIn” as your icebreaker.

Set a Goal

You’re not going to the event just to hang out. Nor are you going to cash in on $100k in sales. Find a goal somewhere in between, such as “to meet 5 people that fit my target demographic” or “to find a mentor.”

Having a goal for your event will make it easier for you to stay focused. If you end up talking with other people in your industry (and they’re not your ideal customers), then remembering your goal can nudge you to venture out to meet other kinds of people.

Come Prepared

This means making sure you have plenty of business cards (it’s ridiculous how many networking attendees forget them) and that you’ve practiced your elevator speech. And speaking of that speech, spend plenty of time rehearsing it. Veer away from the mundane “My name is Nellie and I’m CEO of CorpNet. We help people incorporate their businesses.”

Find a better way to grab people’s attention: “Do you stay up at night worrying about your personal assets being at risk with your small business? Well, you should, if you’re not incorporated. Hi, I’m Nellie Akalp, and I’m CEO of CorpNet. We help small business owners protect their personal assets by setting up the right business structure.”

You see how the second speech was a lot more engaging and got you thinking about whether your assets were protected? Which do you think people will remember?

Do Enough of It

You can’t go to a single networking event and expect it to help you boost sales. You should attend the same group’s meetings each month (or more often, if they meet more frequently) so you can get to know the people in the group. The more they see you, the more they’ll trust you. And sales start with trust.

Get Involved

This is an excellent strategy if you tend to be a wallflower at these events. Volunteer to check people in or help out in other ways. This gives you a purpose, and makes you a focal point in the room. You can meet way more people if you have to talk to everyone that comes to the event!

Implement these strategies at your next networking event and see if they make a difference!