Recently I was asked to attend a large women’s business function in another city in which I knew no one expect the person who invited me. The person that invited me was very involved in the organization and had duties to perform on that day. So, I was on my own.

To top it off, there was no food nor drink to be served. So, my usual networking skills couldn’t happen over the shrimp bowl because there was none.

Now, I’m an extrovert but when I entered the room there was an immediate – bam! – of energy. Lots of laughter and people talking to each other. I was immediately thrown back to a middle school feeling of everybody has somebody to talk to except me. Fortunately, this lasted about two seconds and I came to my senses.

I reminded myself of tools that I can use in any situation to establish rapport and make connections. Here’s what I did:

1. Introduced myself to a woman that had some individually wrapped cookies on her table because quite frankly – I was hungry! The conversation took off from there.
2. After I left her, I walked over to a woman who had on a fabulous jacket and complimented her on that. The conversation took off from there.
3. Still on the food theme, I walked over to a woman and asked if her if she was a local and if so, could she recommend a food place to eat on the other side of this meeting. The conversation took off from there.
4. With another person that I approached, I brought up a current event from their city and asked her opinion on what was going on.

All these conversations took me up to the time of the meeting and proved very productive and enjoyable.
There’s a lot to say about networking but what works for me is:

• Notice – something about the room, the person, the event – to compliment.
• Ask – Ask an open ended question.
• Compliment – Who doesn’t love a sincere compliment. Make someone’s day (and yours) by offering out praise.

Here’s what I learned – I’ll come back to that meeting with some new relationships and a larger circle of support.