Are you ready for your next networking event? If you are like the majority of the population, you feel uncomfortable approaching a room of people that you don’t know with the expectation of small talk. Yet, this is what is expected in the realm of the networking world. As we evolve as professionals we know that this is the best way to grow ourselves personally and professionally.

The best way to jump into anything that makes you a nervous wreck is to prep! So lets start with  5 Do’s to get you ready to head to your first networking event as a new and improved Networking Guru.

1- Always be prepared.

Even non-girl scouts can agree, it’s always best to be prepared! Make sure you have updated business cards and enough of them on hand.

2- Prepare your Online Self.

After a networking event someone will inevitably connect with you through one of many social media means. Make sure your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram pages have the correct privacy settings in place. Updating your LinkedIn page to reflect your current position, skills and contact information.

3-Invite a Friend.

Misery loves company, right? Everyone feels better if you can come with a friend, just don’t stick to each others side all night. Go and mingle. No friends to go with? Check with the RSVP list or host to see if you already know someone attending. You can reach out before hand or, look for them when you first get there to help calm any nerves or jitters

4- Practice that Elevator Speech

Have something prepared that when someone asks you the “what do you do” question, you don’t stumble answering it, say nothing or even worse — say too much! A couple sentence and then ask them something about their job or background.

5- Connect After the Event

Make sure you gather business cards, make mental notes of those you would like to follow up with (think partnering with your current job or a place you would like to work one day) and make sure to follow up within the week after. A personal card, a short email or even a connection on LinkedIn can help you build relationships once this event is over.