THE BLOG
08/22/2013 03:11 pm ET Updated Oct 22, 2013

Are You a Networking Machine?

Networking can be intimidating. How can attending a party where you introduce yourself to strangers be any fun? Networking is as a key marketing tool that builds relationships for your business. Once you realize how beneficial networking is, you will work to gain advantages from your experiences. It is best to create a networking regimen that simplifies the process.

1. Introduce yourself to the event hosts.
Introduce yourself and thank the hosts of the event. Ask them to introduce you to those who can benefit from your business. Before I launched my company I attended an event where Jonathan Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels, was hosting a lecture with Ian Schrager, a hospitality interior designer. I introduced myself to Mr. Schrager and told him what I do. He asked me for my business card and said he would pass the information along to his design team. Three weeks later I received an email and had my first meeting with the design director of Loews Hotels. Personal introductions have been a valuable tool for developing relationships with potential clients. Start introducing yourself; you do not want to miss out on any opportunities.

2. Set a goal.
Although it is easier to connect with friends at events, you should set a goal for yourself to connect with people you do not know. When I attend events I generally set a goal to meet at least three new people. To break the ice, I tend to give someone a compliment or strike up a conversation relating to the event. Most people will not turn away from a compliment or friendly conversation.

3. Wear something unique.
Create a signature look to set yourself apart. You can add bright, bold colors to your wardrobe, or simply wear a unique piece of jewelry. I always wear large earrings to every event. My jewelry, along with my faux-hawk haircut, is a unique appearance that distinguishes my personal style. You want to be memorable; and wearing something that stands out but, is still appropriate in the setting, can help you do so.

4. Join group conversations.
When you see a circle of people join the conversation. Walking straight into a conversation may be awkward. Simply ease your way in the group by standing on the perimeter of the circle, and you will eventually become part of the conversation.

5. Be confident.
Draw people in when you pitch your story and leave them wanting more. Keep your description short and sweet by thinking of two words that define you. I tell people that I am a carpet designer, which usually leads them to ask more questions. Think of yourself as a proud messenger of your business.

When networking, it is important to follow-up with people after you establish a connection. As you see them over and over at events, they will eventually become ambassadors for your business. Your ambassadors will be eager to introduce you to key individuals. Networking is vital when you own a business. Always remember to smile, have fun and always remain confident. I would love to hear back from you about any success stories you have had using these tips.