One of the most common tips for professionals is to network. Networking is something that almost every business professional has to do at some point or another. Sometimes it can seem like just a few people actually know how to do it. The truth is that a network is just a group of people who are connected. Wherever these contacts come from, they can be a source of referrals or other leads in the business world. An excellent way for professionals to expand their networks is to attend networking events. These are great places to meet like-minded people who are also highly motivated.

Networking events can seem a little overwhelming at first. It’s important to remember that everyone is there for the same reason: to make new connections. People at networking events want to meet other people who they’ll like, and who may benefit them down the road. Since they’re primed to like the people they meet, the battle is already half over. The key is to make a good impression, and that’s not very difficult at all. It’s a good idea to have a short introduction prepared before arriving at a networking event. Practice this on friends, co-workers or roommates and see what they think. 

The introduction should feel authentic. A smile never hurts, and usually helps. It’s okay to show some personality. It’s also important to find a way to demonstrate listening skills. Pay attention during conversations and find a way to circle back to something that’s already been mentioned. Make it clear that the other voices at the event are resonating. One standard piece of advice when it comes to networking events is to treat them like blind dates. Active listening is critical to getting to know another person and build a good connection.

Networking events are all about professional connections and growth. However, don’t leave out the possibility of friendship. Networking is all about building relationships. Some will be purely work-related, and others may be more personal in nature. The old truism is that most people spend more time at work than they do with their own families. It’s a good thing to find work connections who really click with one another. Networking events can be the first step in making that happen.

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