Summer has too quickly come to an end. Many of us are getting back to our routines, and gearing up to attend more networking events, whether we’re service or corporate professionals, entrepreneurs, or students. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your fall networking opportunities.

Meet Early

Instead of an after-work drinks-and-appetizers event, attend an early-morning networking event. Connecting over coffee allows you to catch people when they’re fresh instead of at the end of the day when they’re tired and ready to be home.

Choose Popular Venues  

It’s not just business people who network; anyone who has a desire to connect with others who share their interests can benefit from networking, whether they’re bikers, women in red hats, or alumni groups. Networking doesn’t have to be boring or a bad experience. To expand who you meet at your next networking experience, try choosing networking events that are hosted at the same time and place as other groups. Mingle with people outside your networking event to quadruple who you meet.

Stand Alone

Take time before or after the meeting to explore the area where the event is being held. I’ve been to great networking events at art galleries, rowing clubs and universities and had some of the best conversations with people because we were admiring the same piece of art. Once you’re at the event, take time to yourself — standing alone attracts different types of people.

Learn More

Google the people you meet. It’s a great way to get more of their story. Their stories are usually more fascinating and inspiring than we realize in the first hearing, and you may be inspired by the journey each new connection has had to arrive where they are today.

Share Puzzle Pieces

One of my favorite books is The Holy Intimacy of Strangers by Sarah York. In her book, York talks about how often we exchange puzzle pieces with strangers we meet – we have some of theirs, they have some of ours. Sometimes, we get a puzzle piece that belongs better with someone else.  Be ready to recognize in the people you meet something that inspires you to introduce them to a colleague they would benefit from knowing. Build your relationships and strengthen your existing ones by using networking to create connections.

I hope your fall becomes a beautiful mosaic of new connections.