While some people are natural networkers with the gift of gab, not all of us can be so lucky. Whether you’re a networking newbie or just find networking to be nerve-wracking, check out the best networking techniques to polish up your skills.

Seize all opportunities

While traditional networking events are great, they aren’t the only way to make new networking connections. Over the past year, we’ve seen the popularity of virtual conferences and networking events surge and the power of social media for networking take off. Social networks for general professionals like LinkedIn and Alignable offer a great way to meet new people with a wide variety of backgrounds in a professional and relaxed manner. Likewise, niche social media platforms like Active Rain for real estate agents or Behance for graphic designers are a great way to meet those in a specific industry.

Start with the right mindset

The best time to build your network is before you need one. Even the best networking techniques won’t build you a broad and deep network overnight. Cultivating genuine professional relationships is like any other relationship — you can’t rush it. Asking for a job immediately after meeting someone likely won’t get you far, but creating long-lasting connections will help your future career search.

Try repeat events

As a general rule, the more people are exposed to something, the more likely they are to like it. Conveniently, this also tends to apply to people as well. Repeat events will help to create strong bonds and familiarity that can quickly create deeper relationships than a single cocktail hour or business brunch can.

Find a reason to follow up

Another way to create a true connection, not just a face-or-name familiarity with someone, is to stay in touch. When you network with someone in person, it’s likely you have their business card. Find a reason to reach out after your initial meeting — whether it’s to follow up on something you discussed or just to thank them for their time and sharing your enthusiasm for meeting them. If you made the connection online, commenting or reacting to posts and sharing their material is a great way to show a connection you value your relationship with them.

Networking is a great way to meet new people, discover new opportunities, and expand your social and professional circles. Share your networking tips in the comments section below or join our network by following us on Facebook or LinkedIn.