Networking is one of the two best ways to find your next job.  Are you going to at least one to three networking events a week?  How do you start and end conversations?  How do you keep track of the people you meet?

Here are 5 tips to help you network more effectively.

1. Separate your business cards from the ones you collect.  Wear an outfit with at least two pockets in the shirt, or the jacket or sweater.   Keep your business cards in the right pocket.  Keep the ones you collect in the left pocket.  There is nothing worse than pulling out your cards and handing someone another person’s card.

2. Wear your name tag on the right side if you are right handed.  When you shake hands, people will see your name.  It is distracting for someone to shake your hand and then look to their right (your left) for your name.  It is easier to make eye contact, shake, and see your name. Bring your own printed name tag, if you can.
3. Get the conversation started – A compliment is a good way to get going but be careful. You can always compliment a man on his tie.  Or, for a woman, I like your dress, or hair, or necklace.  But if that does not feel appropriate, then you can simply ask why did you come to this event tonight? or, what do you hope to get out of the event?
4. Offer your assistance – Before you go into your pitch ask is there anyone I can introduce you to help you get your next information meeting?  Or, who is your ideal referral?
5.  Launch into your pitch or elevator speech.  Make sure to cover the three basic keys to any elevator pitch.  Who are you?  What is one big accomplishment?  What are you looking for? (Perfect job, ideal referral).   To end the conversation, simply say it was nice meeting you, I think I will get another drink, or something to eat, or I want to mingle.
Remember, 40% of job seekers get their next job through networking.