I'm not a natural networker, but I've read many books on the subject and keep at it whenever I can muster the courage. (My favorite book is Keith Ferrazzi's Never Eat Alone). This morning I attended a networking breakfast hosted by American Business Associates, as the guest of Sal Alesia, a Morgan Stanley vice president. Here are three tips on maximizing your participation at these kinds of events, which might be especially useful for people who don't love them.
1. Make one good contact and leave: Sal gave me this tip and I thought it was great. The idea of trying to meet lots of people is a burden. If you have one good conversation at an event, consider the job done and scoot.
2. Get to the event early (and leave early): If you arrive 15 minutes early, you'll get to greet and thank the host. Once everyone arrives, the host may be too busy to remember you were there or to introduce you around.
3. Hang out near the entrance or registration area: It's easier to meet people as they come in, before they're enmeshed with people they already know.