Being effective at networking often leads to long-term success personally and professionally. However, if you approach it with a transactional mind-set, you’re unlikely to build the strong and supportive network you need. Ares Direct workshops teach networking skills to all our associates and we share with them the mind-set they need to develop to succeed.

First, start by being open to meeting new people anytime, anywhere. You don’t have to be at a fancy networking event to make a connection. Hanging out waiting to pick up your dog from doggy day care is a great time to practice small talk, and you can get into amazing depth in a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the airplane. You can even meet people who are coming into the Ares Direct office for training and interviewing.

Once you’ve started the conversation, begin looking for ways you can add value. Suggest a great book you’ve read, offer some insight from your own experience, or just be willing to be a great listener. Adding value and giving back to someone signals that you view them as important and that you’re truly understanding what they’re saying. This will build the foundation of a much stronger relationship.

Networking is only one of the professional skills we teach. Follow Ares Direct on Twitter for more tips from our workshops on public speaking, leadership, and team building.