by Mary Cantando, Founder of The Woman’s Advantage, Guest Contributor

Some of us love networking events and some of us believe they’re a necessary evil. Regardless of your position, here are some tips to help you build relationships and gain real results from your next networking event.

Five Ways to Build Relationships at Networking Events

1. Set a goal.

Like every business effort, you should have a goal. For example: You’re going to meet five new people and invite them to coffee.

2. Arrive early and think of yourself as the host.

Greet people when they arrive. They will have more energy at this point and be more likely to remember you.

3. Work the room.

Although it might be more fun and comfortable to hang out with those you already know, don’t spend too much time with friends or with any single individual. Move around.

4. Ask questions of value.

I like to ask: “What brings you to this event?” And “What is a good contact for you?” This helps me figure out how I can help them, often by introducing them to someone in the room.

5. Bring lots of biz cards.

Don’t ever be caught saying, “I’m out of cards.” You never know when you’ll meet the next breakthrough prospect for your business.