Networking is about interacting with people to form business relationships and to recognise, create, or act upon business opportunities. It provides the opportunity to share information and seek potential partners for ventures and engage them for mutual benefit.

There is no doubt about it, networking can be nerve wracking but building professional relationships and creating contacts is critical to the success of your career and business.

Below are 6 easy tips that take networking from a dreaded event to a breeze.

1. Arrive Early

Always try to be the first to arrive, this may seem counter intuitive but arriving early allows you to notice the people who haven’t already settled into groups. This makes it easier to align yourself with someone who doesn’t yet have a conversation partner.

2. Body Language

Shake hands confidently, smile and look people in the eye when you talk to them. To further exude a sense of confidence, stand up as straight as you can with your arms at your side. For an added tip try to make physical contact with everyone you meet. Studies show that people are twice as likely to remember you if you shake hands.

3. Prepare a Conversation Topic

Ever get stuck in the situation were neither you or the person you are speaking with have anything to say? Instead of talking about the weather, prepare a short and interesting story you can pull out at any time. Mastering this technique will ensure that you never experience those moments of awkward silence again.

4. Listen

It is a well known fact that people love to talk about themselves, so next time you want to leave a positive first impression make sure you ask the other person about them when you finish speaking.

5. Take Two Business Cards

To show someone that you are really interested and genuine about their business, take two business cards, one for yourself and one for someone you know that may benefit from connecting with them. This will improve the likelihood of working with them in the future and strengthen the relationship.

6. Follow Up

The golden rule of networking is to always send a follow up email within two days of attending an event. Without this last step you have lost any opportunity that this event may have provided.  Networking can be daunting, but with these simple tips it should become that little bit easier. It is a great opportunity to meet new contact -you never know who you might meet or the doors it may open.

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