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Networking is great to build connections and make new friends. As with any other skill, it takes patience and practice, and can be as rewarding as ever when you pay it forward. Give these tips a try at the next event:

Arrive early. We feel ready to take on the world when we’re prepared. Why not take charge by going in early? This way, you can get comfortable with the environment (before the fun begins).

Give a gift. This doesn’t just include a physical gift, but a connection to someone else, an insider tip, or a link you found relevant to them. Starting a friendship with a bit of generosity gives off a good vibe.

Introduce yourself to everyone. It might seem a bit excessive at first, but you never know who you’re going to meet. Keeping an open mind will give you a chance to get to know a potentially great friend.

Listen. It’s one of the most powerful traits anyone can have, and most importantly, it makes people feel special when you remember specific things about them.

Follow through. As soon as you have made a connection, don’t be afraid to add them immediately on Facebook (or LinkedIn if you want to keep it strictly professional).

Leave on a positive note. A great way to have people remember you, is to have them remember how they felt around you. Leave on a fun note. After all, that’s how they’ll remember you.

Have fun. Networking doesn’t have to be serious. Crack jokes, poke fun, it’s nice to meet people you can be truly yourself with (and to test the waters to see if you have a similar sense of humor).