Gone are the casual days when business networking meant rubbing shoulders with some familiar faces and generally chewing the commercial cud over a few beverages or a full English. Now it’s something all together more tactical.

But you could find that you’re in a room full of new faces and it may feel more difficult to put yourself out there. Just remember, you’re all there for the same reason – to sociably promote yourself to new business prospects.

However, that doesn’t mean desperately selling your wares and having everyone run at the mere sight of you. It’s about artfully working a room, engaging intelligently and imparting some nuggets of knowledge that will earn you credibility and ensure you’re remembered for all the right reasons, and so that people know who to go to when they need your expert services.

To help this process along, having a Networking Strategy can be really helpful. If that sounds a bit heavy here are 10 smooth and simple tips to get you started:

1. Before you even get there, ask the organiser for an attendees list so that you can select some people to beeline for.

2. Look the part. Don’t arrive breathless and crumpled; freshen up, dust yourself down and be composed and confident, first impressions count.

3. If you’re new there, find the organiser, thank them for inviting you and ask them if there are any key people you should meet and if they can introduce you. If you do know someone there, by all means go to them first but don’t latch on all night, remember this is about making new contacts.

4. Scan the room for your pre-selected ‘targets’, be proactive and approach them – preferably with a pleasant reason to do so (perhaps you have a mutual acquaintance in common?).

5. Smile, yes this is business, but it’s also pleasure.

6. Set yourself a target number of new people to properly engage with. You’ll never met the whole room, but 3 meaningful conversations are better than 10 pointless ones.

7. Open a new conversation by asking a question about their business, even if it’s ‘what do you do?’, focus on that person and listen to the answer, comment with something useful and ask another question. Yes, this is called a conversation.

8. If you find you want to move on to the next person but don’t want to offend your current alliance, ask them if they know of someone there that they recommend that you connect with and then seek them out. That way they will feel they have helped you, you’ll be able to elegantly extract and yourself plus you have a great opener to approach your next contact with.

9. Take business cards from everyone and always ensure you give out your own.

10. Post event, reconnect with all of your business card contacts with a casual online ‘Great to meet you’ style contact, by email or even social/online business media. Make sure you’ve received the attendees list if you didn’t get it beforehand and also contact those you didn’t meet but wanted to, saying you hope you will next time. Then mark any interesting parties for your next hit … can you see a pattern forming?

Try these tips and you’ll have made that eye-stingingly early breakfast start well worth it and maximised the outcome of that achingly long evening when all you really wanted to do was flop in a chair. And remember, the next time you meet those people could be the time when they want to do business with you.

Next step – Speed and Power Networking. But in the meantime try a Communications or Relationship building course from www.minxmedia.co.uk to really build your people skills and boost your confidence.

Making every conversation count!