I have been doing professional networking for about 5 years now. For a naturally shy person it was so overwhelming to begin with. Sometimes even now I am daunted to walk into a room and talk to ‘strangers’.  This is my top 6 things I have learnt from my Networking experience; 1. Be yourself.A few of the networking groups I attend give each attendee an opportunity to speak. It’s always a quick 30-60 seconds of who you are, what you do, and what you can offer the people in the room. I often don’t prepare anything, so when I stand up I say something silly and make a joke. I realised that I love doing this, and people remember me because I make it funny, or make fun of myself. This is staying true to myself. I’m like this with my clients as well, because despite being an Accountant I don’t always like to talk numbers. 2. Be genuine.This tip has helped me so much in the last 12 months. By being genuine at networking events I have made some amazing friends. Think about that. Do you go to networking to make business, or make friends? I have done the later and benefited with friendships and business. 3. Ask questions and listen.If you are a bit quiet and shy too like me here is a huge tip. Ask questions. This takes the focus off you and allows you to get to know the other person. 4. Go with a purpose.Purpose; It’s important. I have learnt that going with a purpose changes my results at a networking event. For many years I thought just turning up at events would be enough. It is for a while. But it limits your results. 5. Keep your mind open.Keeping an open mind allows you to see all the opportunities at a networking event. I don’t mean business opportunities. This can be opportunities to learn, expand, develop, and flourish. 6. Talk to your competitors.Every industry is different; I know this from my work. Some industries can be extremely competitive, and there may be a feeling of rivalry between businesses. For myself I believe in being professional and courteous to all my competitors as many of them are friends. I always take the opportunity to network with competitors at functions.  Being friendly and courteous to other accountants has helped shape my business reputation in more ways than one.