Just the word ‘networking’ can make some people feel uneasy. Walking up to a complete stranger and making conversation? I’d rather go to the dentist!

But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways you can start incorporating networking into your everyday life. Remember, be courageous and try to make long-term relationships, not just business connections.

Melbourne blogger Marlee Wakeling shares five of her best networking tips picked up over the years of studying and working in marketing and event management.

1. Hand out those business cards

Buy 250 business cards at the start of the year and aim to give them all out by the end of the year. Don’t be afraid to hand them out, and don’t feel like you’re being pushy. It’s only a business card after all!

2. Use business cards wisely

Buy blank business cards to collect the details of people you meet that don’t have a business card. Make the effort to contact them, rather than waiting for them to contact you.

3. Facebook is your friend

Although Facebook may not seem like the most professional platform, there are often groups you can join that will help you keep up-to-date with the latest trends in your industry. As well as jobs on offer that don’t make it onto the usual job hunting platforms, and opportunities to attend networking events.

Search keywords related to your profession and location, chances are there will be a relevant group.

4. Take time everyday to work on networking

Spend 10-15 minutes a day working on your networks. Whether it’s following up on emails, giving someone a call or simply making sure your LinkedIn account is up-to-date, your efforts will surely be rewarded.

5. Use technology to make networking easier

Have you heard of the app CardMunch? It’s a serious timesaver! Basically, when you receive a business card, you take a photo of it through the CardMunch app. It then uploads the contact details to your address book AND finds the person on LinkedIn! The app is only available on iPhones, and there are similar ones for Android, such as CamCard. However, I haven’t found them to be as good.

If you want to read up on some more great networking advice, I’d recommend the book How To Master Networking by Robyn Henderson.

Share your networking tips in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!

Marlee Wakeling blogs about writing, fashion and music at String of Events.