Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UGA chapter.

College is one of the best times in your life for meeting new people. You’re surrounded by people your age, have ample opportunities for professional networking at career fairs and organizations and can meet people socially almost everywhere you go.

Despite how much opportunity there is to build connections, it can still be difficult to approach new people and have conversations that lead to lasting relationships. Here are five tips to help boost your networking skills for both your professional and personal life.

Be the one to start the conversation

Most people at social events are open to having a conversation with someone new, but few people take the initiative to actually approach a stranger. If you take that step, you’ll appear outgoing and confident and you’ll be able to lead the direction of your conversation while it’s first getting started.

Not sure what to say? If in a professional setting, you could introduce yourself and ask the person about their company. If you’re in a social setting, you could compliment the person about something they’re wearing and ask them questions about it. These leading questions will lead to a natural-feeling conversation and make it less nerve-wracking to talk to someone new.

Ask Questions

People generally enjoy talking about themselves, especially about their passions and favorite things. Asking questions in a conversation gives them the opportunity to do so and takes some of the pressure off of you to keep the conversation going.

In order to ask questions but keep your conversations from feeling like an interview, remember to acknowledge the person’s answers before asking about something new and bring up relevant information about yourself if it applies to your conversation.

Work through the small talk

Although we often dread it, so-called “small talk” is an important part of getting to know someone new. It helps you quickly find common experiences and get a feel for the person before diving into deeper or more personal subjects.

Learn to use small talk to get a feel for the person you’re talking to. If they allude to something interesting going on in their life, ask about it! It’ll lead to a deeper conversation without overwhelming them with personal questions from the start.

Use Your Active Listening Skills

When talking to someone new, making sure they know you care about what they have to say is so important. Pay attention when they speak, ask pointed questions, and refer back to earlier points in your conversation. Make sure you’re really listening to what they have to say rather than simply planning what you’re going to say next.

Get their Information and Follow up

Make sure you get some way to keep in contact with the people you meet – their phone number, social media, LinkedIn, or other contact – and give them yours too! Within the next few days, send them a quick message saying that you enjoyed your conversation with them and if you’d like, set up a time to meet.

Lindsay Morris is studying Journalism and Political Science at the University of Georgia. She loves to read and write, especially about culture, style, and entertainment. When she's not doing that, Lindsay loves walks in the rain, creating ultra-specific playlists, and going out with friends.