There’s always a lot of talk surrounding the importance of networking. Ever since we ventured out into adulthood, we’ve been told that the connections we make in college could help us out in the future. It’s an enticing thought, but the truth is, very few of us actually know how to make these connections in the first place – let alone know how to use them to expand our careers when we need to.

Networking can seem like a scary task, especially if you’re not used to introducing yourself to people or if you tend to be more on the shy side. But the reality is, it doesn’t have to be as uncomfortable as you think it might be. There are plenty of different ways you can properly network yourself, and you just might be surprised at how easy it can be done!

Here are 6 tips to help you better network yourself:

  1. Choose connections wisely – Sometimes it can be tempting to accept every connection request you receive on LinkedIn, but be careful. Some of these accounts may be fake. It’s also more impressive to have a LinkedIn profile where your connections actually write you testimonials and recommendations, and if you don’t know any of your connections personally that might be hard to accomplish.
  2. Don’t just go for impressive titles – Similarly, you don’t want to make the mistake of trying to connect with every person you meet at an event that has an impressive title to their name. Most of the time, these managers and directors have so many other connections that they won’t remember you if you try to reach out to them after having just met them a couple of times. Remember that there are plenty of ambitious people starting out in their career just like you. These connections will be much more helpful when you take the time to get to know them and take part in their growing career. These connections will someday hold impressive titles themselves, but they’ll also know who you are and remember how you connected with them early on.
  3. Listen to people’s stories and learn from them – When you meet new people at events or meetings, remember that they are just that: people. They have interests and hobbies, backgrounds and families too. Engage them in a conversation that says you’re interested in more than their career achievements and they’ll be more inclined to talk to you at the next event you’re both at.
  4. Make use of direct messaging features on social media – LinkedIn has a messaging system too! Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and reach out to a connection you’d like to know more about. It can be a great way to get more information on a job description that you’re interested in yourself or an easy way to learn more about a company you’re thinking of applying for in the near future.
  5. Keep in touch with connections – You also want to be sure that you’re not just connecting with people just to connect with them. If you spoke with someone at an event that you think could be a useful connection in the future, (maybe they’re in the department you want to work in or at the office you want to be transferred to) keep in touch with them consistently. The last thing you want to do is only go to someone when you need something from them. It not only gives you a bad reputation, but the person you reached out to might not even help you if they think they’re being taken advantage of.
  6. Make use of social media – Social media is a powerful tool that is becoming more and more popular with employers and the hiring process. Make sure your social media presence reflects your career aspirations. Follow people with similar profiles and they’ll be engaged with the content you post. They might reach out to you, or if you reach out to them it won’t come as a shock. It’ll be easier to connect with this person and continually go to them for career related tips, advice, and introductions to other people you want to connect with.

Related: Sell Yourself…Through Social Media!

There are many different ways you can go about networking yourself but the important thing to remember is to just go out there and do it! Practice makes perfect. The more you try to connect with people, the easier it will be. You’ll soon break out of your shell and be able to network yourself confidently. And you’ll be glad you did it, having strong connections will prove very helpful to you in the future. Keep these 6 simple tips in mind to get started on your networking journey or improve your current one.