Are you a wallflower at corporate bashes? Frances Kay, founder of business introductions agency Acumentoo, explains how to network effectively
Organising business events takes a huge amount of time and effort – the hosts want you to benefit. But what you can gain is very much up to you; what you get out depends on what you put in. Although Woody Allen once remarked that "80% of success is just turning up", getting the best results from business networking requires some effort on your part.

Here are some tips that have worked for many experienced and successful business people.

Planning and preparation
If you don't know why you're attending the event, do some research. What do you want to gain from it? If there is a delegate list, study it, and then aim to seek out the people you've selected. Check the dress code – first impressions count. Be punctual and take your business cards with you.

Making an entrance
Try not to be nervous – you won't be the only one who is! Most people find entering a room terrifying. Take a few deep breaths and move forward positively and confidently – and don't forget to smile. Introduce yourself to someone who is on their own. They will be so pleased, you'll have made a friend straight away.

How to be outstanding
Go on a charm offensive, be polite and courteous. Be curious about others – it will help your shyness evaporate. Initiate a conversation by asking a question. Try to establish simple connections with people: their holiday destinations, country or region of origin? Don't interrupt when somebody else is speaking. Watch your body language and gestures.

Take a few deep breaths and move forward positively and confidently – and don’t forget to smile

Getting results
Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone; you never know who you might meet. Enthusiasm is catching and a positive attitude is attractive. Take details of each new contact you make. Make sure to follow up shortly after your meeting. Call people even if you don't want anything from them – they will be amazed.

Final touches
Always remember to say thank you to your host or organiser when leaving the event or by sending a note afterwards.

It sounds daunting but the more often you attend events, the easier it becomes. Practice wherever you are. Devise ways of being of value to others such as sharing contacts and skills – and ask them to reciprocate. Building business relationships takes time, so be patient but persistent. You won't get overnight results, but the rewards are limitless.