Networking, many of us feel, can be kind of a drag. You need to go to awkward events, worry about presenting yourselves positively, and remember to keep in touch (but in a non-annoying way). Some folks even feel the same way about dating.

But while forging new connections with others can feel like a happiness drain, new research suggests that helping others connect, on the other hand, is a great way to boost your mood.

The study out of the University of Virginia and Harvard, examined the age-old process of playing yenta, either romantically or professionally, to determine how connecting others affects well being. It turns out chronic matchmakers are the happier than the rest of us.

"Creating successful, thoughtful matches for others makes us happier," declares Lalin Anik, one of the researchers behind the study, "but only when that matching is done in the service of creating connections with others."

The happiest type of matchmaker

The research team found that making random matches -- pairing people based on their social security numbers, for example -- did predictably little for our mood. But when people had to get creative, thinking of others' unique character and needs and recommending fruitful connections based on this information, matchmaking was a surefire happiness booster.

And what were the happiest matchmakers of all? Those who managed to get two complimentary people together who never would have met otherwise. "Translated to the office, that means it's a greater thrill to connect your colleague to a researcher across the country than to introduce two peers in adjoining departments (although even the more obvious, local match would theoretically have an upside for the connector)," explains a writeup of the findings in Darden Ideas in Action.

Anik offers a few tips for putting this research into practice in the piece, including being aware of your personal matchmaking style (introverts may prefer introductions over email to working a room, for example), and to be ever alert for opportunities to facilitate a connection. The Ideas in Action article also notes, "that financial incentives may hinder the intrinsic pleasure humans take in matchmaking," which might be of interest to HR pros thinking about referral programs.

But perhaps the simplest takeaway suggested by the study is a slight shift in focus for your next less-than-highly-anticipated networking event. If walking into the room with the intention of connecting with others makes you a little queasy, then try to focus your energy on connecting others instead. Playing matchmaker is likely to make you way more relaxed than focusing on self-promotion. Plus, a host of experts note that the surest way to build a powerful network is to focus on being of service rather than your own needs.

Do you get a kick out of matchmaking?