You've heard it before--it's not what you know that will bring you success, it's who you know.

But if you're introverted, lack conversation skills, or just really detest networking, it will be incredibly challenging to make and sustain the right connections.

Socializing for work doesn't have to be painful. Follow the tips below and not only will you become great at networking, but you may actually begin to look forward to it.

1. Say yes anyway.

Tempted to decline an invitation for drinks with a professional colleague? If you want to rid yourself of any fears or anxieties that are associated with networking or meeting people, remember that exposure is an effective remedy. Even if you don't feel 100 percent confident about your networking skills, keep accepting invites and attending events. Then repeat.

2. Go with a friend.

If you're entering a group networking setting, there's no harm in bringing along an outgoing, extroverted friend you are already comfortable with. They can offer you encouragement as well as their own networking tips.

3. Come armed with conversation starters.

No shame in being prepared. Before attending a meet-up, try brainstorming a few topics or questions that can help you easily initiate conversations with new people.

4. Establish a few goals.

Do you have a particular job or position you're after? Do you need guidance or advice? Don't feel obligated to network just because you know you should. Instead, network because you're in search of something. Doing so brings value and purpose to your experience.

5. Pay attention to what you wear.

Dress for the part you want, sure. But if you want others to approach you because you're not the best at starting small talk, consider wearing clothes or accessories that make a statement. Alternatively, you may also compliment what someone else is wearing. 

6. Give yourself space.

Let's face it: no matter how charismatic you are, social outings can be exhausting. Don't forget to recharge your batteries after socializing, otherwise your interactions will suffer.

7. Be yourself.

Feeling uncomfortable and awkward is a natural response when you're not used to socializing. Just remember to be genuine and true to yourself if you want to establish authentic connections with others.

Published on: Jan 22, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.