Editor’s Note: Regardless of what stage you are in your academic or working career, networking remains a vital skill across both the corporate and creative industries. In this post, as a part of our Back2School series, we explore ways of improving your networking skills.

IndustryMe’s Top Tips for improving your networking skills.

Look Up The Guest List

Check on Twitter, Facebook or Student Forums, if available, to see who is attending the event. By researching the guest list, you will have the chance to learn more about who will be there and work out if there is anyone specific that you’d like to connect with at the event. If you are worried about attending alone another benefit of seeing the guest list in advance is that you can ask if anyone else is going alone and would like to meet up beforehand.

Put Down Your Phone And Be Present

Whilst you will expect to see people on their phones at events, sharing on social media, taking pictures and following each other, whilst you are talking to someone put it away. Give them your full attention and listen to them, you’ll come across as more approachable and they’ll appreciate someone taking a moment away from their phone.

Bring Business Cards

If you want to be remembered the easiest way is to bring a business card and keep them in a carry case to protect them. If you are there to make long term connections, then giving out a screwed-up business card from the bottom of your bag or saying you’ve just given away your last one won’t leave a great impression.

Get Social And Follow Up

Follow the people you met on social media and give them a quick message to say how lovely it was to meet them. Keep the lines of communication open, comment on their social media, their blog, or even invite them out for a coffee and a catch-up. Who knows what kind of collaboration that one meeting could lead to.

Smile & Breathe

Above all, just remember to smile and breather. Events are supposed to be fun and not something to fear. You could make a new professional connection, you could make a new best friend, but a friend makes everything better and it makes everyone more approachable.

What are your Tips for Networking? Tweet us and let me know @industrymee