No matter what business you’re in, you probably already know that it’s not always what you know that will make you successful; it’s who you know. The biggest difference between the super-successful and those who are highly talented but only go so far are the people they know.

Needless to say, if you’re a professional in any field, you better be a pro at business networking. No one knows this better than David Schwartz, a highly-skilled attorney in New York. After years of practicing among the Big Apple’s elite, he’s made networking into a science.

We got to speak to Mr Schwartz and hear what he had to say about the art of making connections. Check out what his favorite tips are below!

  1. Take any interaction as a potential networking opportunity—but know when to stop. There is a very fine line between being an overly aggressive networker, and knowing when to turn happenstance into a great deal. The key thing here is to learn about people, present yourself well, and recognize when the two of you could collaborate together. At the very least, keep a stack of business cards in your pocket at all times. You never know who will want to grab one.
  2. Never discount what someone may be able to offer. Appearances can be deceiving, and in many cases, the most powerful people in the room won’t flaunt what they have. This is not by accident; the great and powerful don’t want to have to flaunt it. Mr. Schwartz noted, “I have seen a very powerful business attorney scoff at a potential client he didn’t recognize, only to find out he was a Fortune 500 CEO. As you can imagine, that individual never called him back.”
  3. When you get contact information from someone, keep in touch. Every week, make an effort to reach out to a contact you haven’t heard from in a while. You’ll be surprised at how many opportunities unfurl just by saying hello once in a while.
  4. Be genuinely interested in what people have to say, and do what you can to learn more about them. People can tell the difference between a person who’s faking interest to get something and a person who is genuinely into what they’re saying. People who feel like they are just being talked at, or who are being used for a sales pitch simply will not want to hear from you. Think about what they’re saying. Use their talk to get a feel for them, learn about them, and establish a rapport with them. You’ll be surprised at how much better your networking skills will naturally become.
  5. Remember your online presence too. Too often, good people will have bad social media skills—and that tends to make it hard for them to establish connections with the right people. The stuff you post online can and will be searched by people who want to reach out to you. It will be your first impression in many cases.

Take a look at your social media. Would you want to contact you? Is there something in your past posts that would make people raise an eyebrow? If so, you may want to delete that. If things are really turning sour, hire a PR agent to help you out.

No matter who you are, or what industry you are trying to break into, networking matters. How well you talk to people and make connections will change the way you do business. Don’t stop networking and don’t stop reaching out. You will eventually see your efforts bear fruit.

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