10 Tips To Become A Better Networker The concept of networking has been around for a long time. Even though social media and LinkedIn have changed the world of networking, attending events with other businessmen and women is still the number one way to network and meet other like-minded people. Have you avoided networking situations because you weren’t sure how to approach them? Or does networking make you nervous, because you don’t know anybody? That’s okay! Networking is a learned skill. Contrary to popular belief, people are not born “networkers.” While some people are more outgoing than others, anyone can learn how to network effectively. Here are some tips (in no particular order) to calm your nerves and make you a networking pro. 1. Bring a friend. There’s strength in numbers, and having someone with you makes you feel more comfortable and boosts your confidence. 2. Look for someone else who is standing alone. If you can’t get a friend to join you, make a new friend, and go meet other new people together. 3. Have a goal in mind. Tell yourself you’ll meet five new people at the event, and don’t leave until you do. 4. Bring cash. Some networking events have a cash bar, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared and have some cash on hand. 5. Change your shoes before you go. This can be a lifesaver, and make you feel better at the end of the day. 6. Dress and act professionally. Wear what you would usually wear to work, even if they may not be the comfiest clothes. It’s also helpful to act professional: wear a nametag, don’t chew gum, and silence your phone. It’s important to give everyone you meet your full attention. 7. Bring business cards. If you want people to remember you, stock your wallet or purse with several business cards, and hand them out! 8. Learn how to gracefully extract yourself from someone who is hogging your attention. One way to do this is to remind yourself of that goal you set at the beginning: “I promised my boss I would meet five new people. It’s been really nice talking to you!” Or you can use the classic excuse: “I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, but I need to go to the restroom (or need a drink), please excuse me.” 9. Prepare some questions (and choose interesting ones). Some good examples of questions include: How did you get your current job? What do you do for fun? What do you like best about Des Moines (or wherever they work)? How long have you belonged to this group? Are you from here originally? If not, where? Remember, everyone loves to talk about themselves, so let them. 10. After the event, follow up on LinkedIn, and send them a note. Everyone likes to add more connections to their LinkedIn. This tells the person that you remember them, and that your conversation with them was valued. These tips are just the beginning of growing your network. It takes some courage, but in the end it’s worth it to get your name out there, meet some business professionals, and expand your area of influence. Happy networking! Which one of these tips could you work on at your next networking event? Katie Roth Katie Roth has been in a leadership role in the employment industry for the majority of her career. Currently, she is Manager, Talent Acquisition for Oasis, a Paychex® Company. Katie is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is certified by both the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), as a Senior Professional in Human Resources, and the National Association of Personnel Services, as a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC).