To get ahead in work and in life, you’ll need to have a wide network of contacts. For some, meeting and interacting with new people is a piece of cake. And yet, for most of us, the opposite is true. Here are a few tips that let you be a master networker in no time.

Start small. Meeting so many new faces can be overwhelming, so it’d be better if you mingle with a small group. Maybe you can choose to attend small, intimate parties, private dinners, or simple coffee sessions with relatives and/or close friends who can introduce you to the right people.

Make eye contact. Nothing screams insincere like a wandering eye when being introduced to someone for the first time. Keep your gaze still and focus on the person you’re being introduced to. If looking someone in the eye unnerves you, simply rest your gaze on one feature of the face – say, the nose, the forehead, or that space between the eyes. Not looking at the other will give the impression that you are disinterested, or worse, rude.

TIP: Practice making eye contact in front of the mirror, in the privacy of your home, until you get the hand of it.

Smile! It won’t hurt you to show some teeth, will it? Smile, but don’t throw your head back and let loose with a horselaugh – you want to look pleasant, not scary. Smiling also makes you look approachable – it’s been known that shy, introverted people come off as snobbish and aloof because they don’t look warm and welcoming enough.

Listen and don’t interrupt. A lot of people mistake a moment of silence as their cue to jump in and start talking, even if the other isn’t finished speaking yet. It can be quite annoying when somebody finishes a sentence for them, so stifle the impulse to do so, and wait for the other to finish gathering his or her thoughts.

Keep your business card handy at all times. You never know when you’ll bump into someone you havent’ seen in years and who may just be a valuable contact. So whether you’re doing the grocery, out running errands, or simply hanging out with friends, make sure your business cards are tucked inside your wallet or purse. Be prepared!

Don’t be a wallflower. Even if you’re probably the shyest person on earth, chances are you’ll spot one or two people standing alone at the function you’re attending. Gather up the courage to approach them – after all, it’s better to talk to a single person instead of marching up and introducing yourself to a large group, right? Take a few deep breaths to compose yourself, then go!

Make it personal. People appreciate it and are impressed if you remember their names. For example, if the person you just met is called Mary, you can say something like, “What a lovely dress you’re wearing, Mary!” This shows that you’re truly paying attention.


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