Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, professional networking can be really intimidating. You know networking is important: 85% of people find work through people they know. But how do you network? And how do you network successfully?

Do the mysteries of professional mingling elude you? If so, check out our tips to become a networking ninja at your next event!

Focus on being interested, not being interesting

Networking is about building relationships – not touting a me-me-me philosophy around. When you’re meeting a bunch of new people, make sure you’re learning about them. Ask about their passions and hobbies. You’re more likely to make a lasting impression this way than just talking all about yourself & asking them where they work.

Order some business cards

But not boring ones. These days, there are a bunch of ways to make yourself stand out with a cool card, either by nature of design or by function. If you’re just looking to make personal connections, try one that doubles as a bottle opener – you two could catch up with some cold ones sometime. If you’re more interested in getting your resume out to the world, consider a card that has a mini USB stick. Drop your resume on it & now all your new contacts will have your information! Do these functional options feel too gimmicky to yo? No problem – but you should still keep your business cards vibrant and engaging. Check out printing  companies like Moo or Zazzle that give you the creative control without breaking the bank!

Follow through on your follow up

At a networking event, you’ll meet a flurry of people who are all trying to get to know each other! But remember that the main goal of networking events is to build a relationship. This doesn’t happen in one single meeting. Hand out your personal cards and collect them from others. Bring a small notepad to collect names of those who don’t have cards. When you get home, connect with them on LinkedIn. Send them a note the day after the event. You’ll keep the conversation going and then you’ll be well on your way to a true professional contact!

Network anywhere (and everywhere!)

One of the biggest misconceptions early job seekers have about networking is that they can only do it when they are attending professional events like industry conferences, career fairs, or seminars. The foundation of effective networking begins with building a relationship, and you can do that anywhere! Volunteering events, trivia nights at your favorite bar, and even the dog park are great ways to meet people who can get you connected with awesome opportunities. There’s an inherent bonus with making connections in this way: you already have stuff in common and the likelihood that you’ll continue seeing each other is high.  Common interests and frequent interaction are some of the biggest hurdles to effectively network with someone, and you’ve already leapt over them with ease.

Now get out there and start networking like a pro!