Not many people enjoy facing a room full of people they don’t know. Especially after a long day of working on your business, the prospect of engaging in conversations with new acquaintances can feel a bit overwhelming. But networking is an essential part of business and professional growth, and you never know who will introduce you to your next big lead or account, future joint venture partner, or even new best friend.

To make for a more enjoyable and effective networking experience, try these four tips:

1. Take the Pressure Off

Consider the networking event as just a social gathering, rather than putting pressure on yourself to “sell” or get a good lead. Networking is about making connections, getting to know others, listening to their stories, and gathering contact information. People gravitate to those who are comfortable, engaging and confident, without being pushy or aggressive. Also, you’re more likely to establish lasting relationships if you’re listening and truly connecting, rather than selling.

2. Pace Yourself

Try to space out your events and don’t expect to stay for hours at each event to avoid being burned out. You’ll always want to put your best foot forward, as a first impression is established in just seconds after an introduction. You certainly don’t want to be the person who seems unapproachable simply because your smile has faded and you’re tired of talking. Thinking positively and proactively will help with your success and the impression you’re giving at networking events.

3. Have a Goal in Mind

If you’re not the type of person who enjoys networking, then give yourself a pep talk before attending your scheduled events. Give yourself a goal, such as introducing yourself to a certain number of people, or approaching those who are standing by themselves. If there’s a goal in mind, then you won’t feel the event drag on and there’s a purpose to the time you’re in attendance.

4. Think Unconventionally

Think outside the box when it comes to networking events. It may be a good idea to attend a charity function or community gathering to make new connections. Networking can truly happen anywhere, and at any time. Just remember to keep your networking ideas fresh and exciting, and take the necessary steps to prepare yourself mentally for events. If you do, you should notice some extra growth in your business along with the growth of your network.