It’s that time again – networking season. In fact it’s always the season to network but it seems to slow down in the summer months and as fall approaches, the networking events start to crank up again. If you dread the thought of all that handshaking and business card exchanges, there are ways to make it much easier and even fun.

Your own mindset.

If you approach a networking event with the idea that you must only cultivate leads that will help your career, you might leave disappointed. Instead, relax and reset your mind to walking in and making friends. It takes the pressure off and is more likely to lead to a positive response and an exchange of contacts.

It’s not all about you.

People love to talk about themselves, so let them. By asking questions, people like your interest in them and are more likely to trust you. Don’t worry that it has been all about them – at the end of the conversation, you can arrange to meet up again and then you have your chance to tell them about you.

Be interested.

Always sound interested – even if you are not. We have all experienced those occasions when you get stuck with the most boring person in the room, but you never know if they might be the very one who can put your business on the map. So, don’t blow it – sound interested, exchange contacts and move on as soon as it’s politely possible!

Have a Plan.

This is really important. It helps by keeping expectations in check and allows you to feel that you have accomplished what you came for. Decide what you want to achieve at each event – maybe you will leave with two new contacts, or you will strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. Keep the list simple and easy to achieve, so if you do better than your initial number, you will feel really proud of yourself. As you increase your networking skills you can decide to achieve more at each networking event.

These only scratch the surface of networking tips. Watch for more as the season gets into full swing.