Networking is essential in every professional’s personal and corporate life.  Knowing that person in the other industry could help you secure that contract, close that sale, secure your next job or even expand your scope about that person’s industry. But the biggest problem in any networking event, meeting, workshop or conference is the fear of networking. This fear has denied lots of people the opportunity to know the other person sitting next to them. These tips can help you become a successful networker and more courageous at any event.

# The best way to maintain a long-term relationship is by being human– with trust, loyalty and real connection. Worst scenario, your initial pitch to begin a conversion backfires or falls flat and you leave the event feeling like you have wasted an hour of your life. A happy day scenario, your pitch rocks and you have made lots of contacts. The best networking often has long term benefits which are hard to quantify. You may not make lots of contacts but any new contact can still prove advantageous.

# You should be able to blend your personal and professional self. Whatever environment you find yourself, you need to carry both your individual and professional self to every conference or networking event you find yourself. Bringing your individual self to an event does not necessarily means you should overshare but remember others will respond positively. Make that bold step and approach the person next to you.  You can also take it further by approaching others you have identified as good personal or business contacts who could improve your life or business in anyway. You could start off by asking about how the session fared.

# At any networking event, somebody has to act as an introducer. Why can’t that be you. If a personal approach is still proving difficult, why not use a social app like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. It’s a good way to start a conversation. Find out about the people who attended the event and find them on these sites and begin a conversation. Once you get the first step out of the way, you can go ahead and meet them in person. Do some advanced preparation of the people you are likely to be meeting and you will be more likely that new contact that can make the event worthwhile.

# Building a strong network requires an open mind. Find a group or devoted networking organization and register your membership-whether internal or external to your firm. This will create a longer list of prospective contacts for you.  It’s easier for people with the same philosophy to begin a conversation and discuss their interests.