Learning how to create long lasting connections at networking events can be a valuable tool in an individual’s private and professional life. With nearly 60% of job openings being advertised in-house, it is even more crucial to network effectively. Although it sounds simple, efficient networking can be a difficult art. Here are a few tips to make sure your new professional relationships get off to a roaring start.

1. At a networking event, first and foremost, try to relax. Think of it as a chance to make new friends, so try to smile and be yourself and people should be drawn to you accordingly.

2. If you see someone standing alone, go up and introduce yourself. Many others will feel just as nervous as you do so a welcoming smile and “Hello” will not go astray.

3. Ask yourself what you would like to get out of the networking meeting. Remember to be open-minded and take a long-term view. Some meetings are based more on learning or gaining inspiration rather than on career opportunities and openings alone. Remember it is better to make 3 good contacts than 20 rushed ones.

4. Develop a ten to twenty second elevator pitch. This is essentially a short summary of who you are and what you do that should be able to be delivered within the time span of an elevator ride. Be able to describe who you are professionally and the benefits you might bring. Intend for this to be captive and value-adding, with the hope to attract interest for the conversation to continue or further dealings.

5. Remember that networking is not supposed to be aggressive. Just as you can’t stand an overbearing sales person nagging at you, be wary that you aren’t bombarding others. A pushy attitude may drive networkers away for good.

6. Ask Questions. This is your chance to learn as much as you can so take advantage of the opportunity - you will only get out what you put in. Have some questions ready to ask – for instance – What do you see as the main issues for your industry right now? What would you tell someone thinking of entering this profession?

7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to participate in the conversation and make sure that you are alert throughout their responses. Act as a sponge and attempt to soak in everything that is being said. You will be thankful later when you try to recall what you have learnt!

8. Vary the networking events you attend. This way you are able to mingle with a wide spectrum of individuals and gain knowledge from various sectors and professions.

9. Follow-up is the key. If you say that you’ll call or be in touch in anyway, make it your priority to do so promptly.

10. Ensure that your online profile is always up-to-date. Recruiters often use social media mediums to probe potential candidates, and even check out your skills and experience.

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