Networking is key. I’m sure you’ve heard that saying more times than you can count and it’s still true. Networking is an important part of any job and one that I particularly enjoy. My top five tips will help you be more comfortable networking at a new event or knowing how to approach networking.

Explore New Groups

When you go into a networking function look for groups of three. Groups of three are easier to fit into because often one person is not engaged so you can approach them. You can either join into the conversation or gather information about the group and enter in when appropriate. This is also a great way to find new friends with new thoughts and ideas. They might not need your assistance right now but you might be able to connect them with something they will need.

Treat a business card as a Gift

When you meet someone new and have an active conversation, they don’t have to give you their business card. If they do, treat it like it’s gold. Thank them for it and look at it before placing it in your bag, even write something you like about the person (not on the business card) for name retention. Treat the business card with respect.

Affirm Who You Are

Meeting a new group of people can be intimidating. Wear something that affirms who you are. This might be a favorite color you wear or a favorite jacket, maybe it’s a lapel pin. This is a silent reminder that you are a confident, amazing person.

Take Ownership

Take ownership of yourself, of your organization. Be professional but be yourself.

Follow up!

Networking is not a number to be checked off your list. It is not an 'oh I’ve met this many people, now I can go home' sort of deal. It is about establishing long-term relationship. I will often ask new contacts how I might assist them. I like to set up Google alerts for people I’ve met. So if they’re mentioned in a publication or a news article, I can send them a note and congratulate them. 

Networking is more than a one-time event. It is an ever growing and developing relationship between two people. These tips are by no means comprehensive but I hope they help to put you more at ease when you next encounter a networking opportunity.

What are your favorite networking tips?