It’s no secret: you need a strong professional network to get ahead. Especially these days, with so many companies freezing salaries, making cutbacks, or going under. So, here’s how to make connections that matter:

  • Share your passion. Vickie Milazzo is the author of Wicked Success. And she says that people who are excited about their work naturally attract others. So, try showcasing your enthusiasm for your industry by starting a blog, speaking at local events, or retweeting the advice of experts in your field.
  • Smile. Public speaking expert Nick Morgan says that smiling instantly makes you more attractive and likeable. People also rate smilers as more trustworthy. But, don’t fake it! Yale University psychologist Dr. Marianne LaFrance says a fake smile puts others on the defensive.
  • Say, “Thank you.” A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that expressing your appreciation makes people twice as likely to remember you and do you a good turn in the future. Why? Because saying, “Thank you” makes others feel good about themselves.

So, find a reason, however small, to acknowledge the things other people do. It could be as simple as saying, “Thanks for taking my call,” or “Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.”