How many people do you tend to meet at a networking event? How many of them do you ever hear from again?
Networking is a regular part of my marketing strategy and I often go to events with 20-30-50 or more people. From any given event, I'm lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it), if I hear from any of them after the event.
Meeting someone for the first time at a business networking event is only the first step.
Following up should be the second step and is one that many people miss. If you don't follow-up after your networking events then you're missing out on 90% of the benefit and results you'll achieve from networking.
A brief email or phone call after the meeting is a polite way of continuing the discussion. I use mine to offer my free Time Audit which helps people to understand more about what I do or I'll pass on information or resources that we discussed or contact details for someone that is useful to their business.
Stay in touch after the event but don't spam people. Not everyone appreciates being automatically added to your mailing list and sent information they didn't want.
Of course if you regularly go to the same group - you're more likely to meet the same people and you can develop the relationship more each time.
Remember - people rarely buy on the first contact, so that's why it's important to follow-up, start to build a relationship and maintain contact so you can learn how you can help them.