You’ve got the perfect opportunity to make a great first impression in a non-interview setting.  Take advantage of these events – they could lead to your next career.

The more you network, the easier it gets.
Once you’ve done it once, it gets easier and easier.  Soon enough you’ll be a networking pro! People will begin to recognize you – if their company doesn’t have an opening, they may know one that is and will recommend you!

Use your ears more than your mouth!   Everyone loves a listener.
You don’t want to seem like a know it all or attention-hungry.  Just relax, enjoy learning from other professionals, and add to the conversation when it’s necessary.

Make a point to stand out on a social or emotional level.  Quality over quantity.
The person that walks around and tries to shake everyone’s hand without engaging in much conversation will stand out less than the person who takes time to meet people and engage and meaningful conversation.

It may be easier to attend a business event or function with a friend.
Though you shouldn’t be apprehensive about attending these functions alone, if you need, invite a friend.  Be sure you choose a friend that wont take the attention away from you, or misbehave at the event.

Follow up with the people that you meet to build a stronger relationship.
Don’t be afraid to ask for business cards, people enjoy networking and building relationships.  After the event, contact the person and thank them for letting you learn more about their company.