The idea of talking to a room full of strangers evokes fear in a lot of people. Forced conversation over hors d’oeuvres, anyone? In today’s world, being an effective networker is an essential skill. Research shows that those with a strong network have access to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge and faster advancement.

“Networking is the quickest way to build trust and likability. Think about your personal brand and how you want to position yourself. You have limited time to make a good first impression so make sure you’re remembered for the right reasons,” Bella Rareworld, a networking expert says.

Five Habits of Highly Effective Networkers

Set a Goal

Having a goal will help measure your success. Aim to be targeted with your approach. For example, a goal to meet a marketing delegate may not get you very far. A specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound goal, focused on the type of marketing delegates you want to meet and the value you plan to present to them will get you much further.

Identify Shared Interests

Being authentic and identifying mutual interests builds trust quickly. Go a little further by peaking their interest with something unique. This is the approach taken by Rareworld, “I have delegates stand in a trio and ask the question: “What is your favorite pizza topping and why?” This is an effective icebreaker to get the energy up in the room. Sharing something personal helps everyone feel more relaxed and is a great way to be remembered.”

Create Your Own Party

It’s not always easy to be in the know. New York-based Jon Levy took matters into his own hands. For the past five years, he’s been hosting ‘influencer dinners’ at his home. Twice a month, he invites 12 influential people—Nobel laureates, Olympic athletes, hip-hop icons—to make dinner together. Not all guests are celebrities, but everyone has either an unusual job or a strong network. Creating your own networking event is a great way to bring a diverse group together and establish yourself as a connector.

Become a Source

Being known as an expert in your field will endear you to others. Bonus points if you have expertise beyond the scope of your profession. If you have in-depth knowledge of digital marketing coupled with the ability to increase engagement on social media, people with an interest in those areas will want to know what you have to say.

Follow-Up

After all your hard work networking, it’s a waste of time if you don’t follow-up. Allocate a set time during the week to do follow-ups. This will reduce procrastination and help you focus.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Marielle Legair is a public relations specialist with over 12 years’ experience gained in London and New York. She currently advises founders on strategies to boost their visibility in the media and among key stakeholders. Her work is regularly featured in top tier media outlets such as the BBC, Bloomberg, CNN, Financial Times, Forbes and CNN.
She is also a contributor to Huffington Post, where she write about entrepreneurship and PR.