You’ve heard the saying, it’s not what you know but who you know. Part of this process of getting to know more people is to network. For some people, networking is in their DNA. They love talking to people and getting to know everyone. For others, networking can be one of their biggest fears. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, I have some tips to help you to take your networking to the next level.

5 Tips For Better Networking

#1. Plan Ahead

If going to a networking event, reach out to the organizer to get a list of people who will be attending. Once you have this information, start to reach out to them personally to build a rapport with them. Then when you see them at the networking event, you can pick up where you previously left off.

If on the other hand you don’t want to reach out to them before the event, stalk them. No, not in a Fatal Attraction way, but in another way. Check them out on LinkedIn and see where they went to college or what they do.

Once you are at the event, look for them and when you approach them, you will have topics of conversation in your back pocket.

#2. Help Out

Another option for better networking is to volunteer at the networking event. Just reach out asking if there is any help they need. If they don’t need help, be sure to leave your contact information for them to ask you to help at a future event.

By volunteering, you have a greater chance of meeting many more people than you otherwise would if you just showed up as a regular.

#3. Have Goals

Many times we go to a networking event without a plan or goal. As a result, we spend most of the evening schmoozing it up with a couple people. To take your networking to the next level, go in with a goal. If you are introverted, simply have a goal to talk to 5 people. If you are an extrovert, try to make meaningful connections with a couple people.

If you have a goal to chase, chances are you will come out of a networking event more satisfied and more motivated and excited to keep meeting new people.

#4. Remember The Point

When you go to a networking event, you are going to meet and make connections with others. Many times we end up talking about ourselves or trying to sell ourselves, especially if we are nervous. It is a lot like a date. If you talk all of the time, you will never be able to tell if the other person is a good fit for you.

In other words, remember to close your mouth sometimes and let the other person talk. You can learn a lot just be really listening to people.

#5. Have A Follow Up Plan

When you do make a meaningful connection with someone, end the conversation on a positive note. Set a time in the future to get together again or have a call. When you do this, you show the other person you are genuinely interested in talking more and you come away with meeting you goals. Just remember to send a follow up email the next day thanking them for the time they spent talking with you.

Final Thoughts

The next time you have a networking event, put into practice these tips. You will find that if you do, you will come away with many more meaningful connections and these connections will help you as you forge your path to getting ahead.