Relationships are invaluable resources in the growth and stability of any business – not only relationships with customers and suppliers, but with other businesses and professionals as well. The most logical first step in expanding that circle of relationships is networking, which doesn’t come naturally to many. Networking events can elevate the anxiety level in just about anyone, but remembering three do’s and one don’t will make you a networking aficionado.

Do #1 – Be genuinely interested in others and what they do – shift your focus from what you want to say and put it on what your are hearing. Listen and comprehend all that they’re talking about. Ask questions. They will welcome the opportunity to go off script, from their elevator pitch to engage in a real conversation.

Do #2 – Be authentically you. Know what you do and how to describe it in non-industry terms so that it can be understood. When you’re talking over someone’s head, with impressive biz lingo, they’re not going to remember you fondly.  Let others in on the secret of why you do what you do and what you love about it.

DO #3 – Be a giver (because givers gain). Try to find ways to help each person you converse with. Is there someone that you know who might benefit from meeting them or someone who might use their services? You’ll boldly set the tone of helping each other and build a channel of referrals that can provide mutual benefits and lead almost anywhere.

Finally, the only Don’t – Don’t try to press or close business on the spot. It will feel strained, aggressive and you’ll get a reputation before you even get to your second introduction. Word spreads fast. Focus on the long term relationships you can build, and the business will come..

Having only five conversations with people you will remember can be much more valuable than walking out of a networking event with 30 business cards in hand to “cool-call” tomorrow.