Networking is an art. Some people can attend events and meet almost everyone in the room, while others can't seem to meet anyone. There is no exact way to network. However, there are a few things you can do to become more effective at networking. Here are a few tips you should try…

1. Set a goal - Identify the reason why you are networking. Would you like to meet more people in your industry? Find a job lead?  A mentor? Potential clients? Understanding the reason why you are networking will help you focus and hone in on your objective.

2. Connect - Actually make an attempt to meet new people. Typically when people network, they either stick to people they know or they seem standoffish because they might be shy. To get the most out of networking, you should actively go up to someone new, say hello and find out more about them. If you are an introvert, aim for group conversations. You can also invite someone to attend an event with you and you can meet people together.

3. Observe - there are several types of networking events. Some are casual and some are serious. You should observe the setting and use that as a way to determine how you should engage. If it's a networking event after a business conference for a panel, people might be more open to talking about what they do and why they are there. If it's an after work networking mixer people might want to keep the conversation very light initially.

4. Lead with a smile! This works every time. How can you deny someone who is looking right at you smiling? It's very hard to do, try it. You don't have to show every single tooth that you have, but greeting someone with a friendly demeanor goes a long way.

5. Discover - Find out interesting information about the person you just met. Not only what they do for a living. You don't want to seem like you are prying, so it's best to keep it light in the beginning.  You can always ask things like "how did you hear about this event?" "where are you from?" or "where do you like to work out?". You can even comment on the weather. These questions might seem minuscule but it often helps to break the ice and creates a building block for more substantive conversation.

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