Whether this is your first go around searching for a full-time job or you simply wish to add “effective networker” to your arsenal of skills, a few simple tips can never hurt. Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s all about who you know”? Today’s job market is completely saturated with individuals looking for their perfect position. To set yourself apart, you may find it beneficial to have some meaningful connections in the workforce. Even if you don’t plan on working for your specific connection, they may know someone elsewhere who can better assist you. That is what its all about. Networking is an effective web of people who can help you get to where you need to go, and vice versa. I have made it my personal mission to discover and learn the basics of effective networking that can be easily implemented into your arsenal, and they include:

Go Where the People Are

This seems like a no-brainer, right? The only way to meet people is to go where they are. While this seems simple, it can be quite intimidating for most people. Comfort zones are where a lot of individuals like to stay, however it’s the people who dare to be uncomfortable, even for a minute, that end up making those meaningful connections. Next time you are at a work conference attempt to say hello to someone new. Engage them. Fresh out of college? No problem! Think about whom you do know–a professor, an advisor, maybe someone from your internship or your part-time job. Work on these relationships and you will be surprised how much they can help. After all, you never know what connections these individuals have.

Know What you Want

I have spoken to the power of an “elevator pitch” in previous articles, however in the realm of networking, it is especially important. When you introduce yourself to someone, it is important to be able to tell the individual who you are and where you would like to go. Even if this person is a previous connection, being able to explain what you want can help them perhaps connect you with someone that can better assist you.

Work the Room

Ok, you have done it; you are trying something new or you maybe you’re at your very first work conference. The biggest mistake you can make when trying to put yourself out there, is to huddle at a table with the group of people you came with. While these people can be incredibly helpful in introducing you to new people, it is important that you find ways to meet people. Introduce yourself, make a conscious effort to have a conversation and most importantly remember their name so you can connect with them later after the event. Better yet, ask them for a business card!

The Follow Up

After making the initial connection, it is important that within the next few days you follow up. This is where knowing the ins and outs of using LinkedIn can be used to your advantage. Send them a connection invite, and thank them for talking to you. Mention something memorable from the conversation, so they can remember who you are. This will be the step that finalizes the connection you have made.

You’ll repeat each of these steps over and over as you gain new connections and branch out of your comfort zone. Whether you’re attending an event for work or heading to your first career fair, it’s important to remember to not only bring your most professional side to the table, but also be yourself. Authenticity lends to your credibility and can help you network more efficiently than you ever thought possible.