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Networking can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. Whether you’re hoping to network through a career fair or your first internship, we’ve got some tips to help you make the best impression!

1. Be yourself

When you present yourself authentically, you will foster genuine connections. Truly get to know the people you talk to; business opportunities may come after you vibe with someone. If approaching strangers intimidates you, bring a friend along! Having familiar face may put you at ease and make it easier to bond with those around you.

2. Share your passion

Talking about topics you are passionate about has a lot of benefits. First, you will have a lot to say! Second, you may encounter someone else that shares the same passions as you. And if that’s the case, you are more likely to maintain a strong connection. Some examples of passions: music, food, exercise, animals, or travel! These passions make you human and allow you to better relate to other humans.

3. Take the time to actually listen

Make sure you aren’t the one doing all the talking. When you ask questions, actively listen. You don’t have to keep your inquiries related to careers or professions (though that can be a good place to start/finish the conversation). Instead, ask about about hobbies, passions, and interests. Be curious! People love to talk about themselves; it’s easy and they know a lot about that topic! You will prove yourself a skillful conversationalist when you give others the opportunity to share their story.

4. Use social media to your advantage

Before the career fair, conference, or networking event, put in some work on social media. Follow relevant hashtags for your industry to get an idea of the current buzz! Look up contacts on Twitter or LinkedIn that you would like to get to know. Leave a comment or slide into their DMs. By speaking online before meeting in person, that may make approaching people less intimidating. Be sure to keep it light and friendly when you do finally meet up. If you struggle to maintain an approachable demeanor, make an effort to smile more often. (You may also find that it helps to calm your nerves!)

5. Follow-up

Be sure to request the method of follow-up your connection prefers. This may be by email, phone, or LinkedIn. After the event, reach out to your new connections within the next 48 hours. This will send the message that you’re interested in maintaining contact. When starting a conversation, refer to a topic you discussed so that they remember who you are!

Hopefully now you feel a little more comfortable networking with other professionals! If you’re starting your first internship, check out these tips for making the most of the experience!