There are generally two types of people when it comes to networking. Some people are excited to meet like-minded people in their industry, while others are insecure, anxious, and uncomfortable at networking events. Regardless of what one may feel, networking should always be a positive and beneficial experience.

How to Improve Your Networking Skills

Individuals that tend to feel anxious before or during a networking event can learn to turn an uncomfortable situation into a positive experience. Here are tips to improve your networking skills:

Show Up

The hardest part of getting yourself to network is to show up to a networking event. Often, going to a networking event isn’t a requirement, so it can be difficult to force yourself to go. However, by committing to it by showing up, the actual “networking” part of the event will come naturally.

Work with a Strategy

Going into a networking event unprepared is the fastest way to feel uncomfortable. While one doesn’t have to do a significant amount of research before networking, it helps to be prepared. Have a few topics and conversation starters in mind to make everything easier. Likewise, by checking the list of people that have RSVP’d, one can make a mental note of who they want to connect with at an event.

Enter with a Positive Attitude

It is almost impossible to miss someone with a negative attitude at a networking event. Alternatively, when someone has a positive attitude and is happy to be there, their energy makes other people more excited to speak with them. Best practices for networking include looking friendly, standing straight, putting electronic devices away, and always being eager to go in for a handshake. Moreover, it is a good idea to have a name tag on the right side, so it’s easily seen when two people are shaking hands.

Go for the Food First

Starting at the food table is an excellent way to begin a conversation when networking. However, keep in mind that one’s drink should always be in the left hand to eliminate the mishap of giving a cold or wet handshake. Additionally, while it’s acceptable to eat at a networking event, going in hungry isn’t the best idea. Eat respectfully while engaging others in conversation.

Networking can be uncomfortable in the initial stages, but as one warms up to the situation and other people at an event, things become easier. Be sure to follow these four tips at any upcoming networking events.