Q: What is one simple thing I can do to expand my network this year?

A: Schedule out your year. “Get your phone calendar out and open Google on your laptop. Start searching local community organizations and networking events, then block at least one networking event for you to attend each month for the year. If you put it in your calendar, you’re more likely to go to more networking events versus if you procrastinate and you see a reminder on Facebook the day before.” Steven Newlon, SYN3RGY Creative Group

Aim for 100 conversations. “A mentor of mine once told me that to truly understand something you need to have at least 100 conversations with other people about it. I accepted this challenge and have been talking with women about the intersection of motherhood and work. What started as 100 conversations has since exploded my network. Interesting people know other interesting people, and they’re happy to make introductions.” Jules Taggart, Jules Taggart Marketing Strategy

Pound the pavement. “Get out of the office and attend some events — anything you feel is even marginally related to your industry or interesting to you (conventions, trade shows, conferences, fundraisers, concerts, and so on). A get-together doesn’t have to be labeled as a networking event for you to find new partnerships there, after all.” Steven Buchwald, Buchwald & Associates

Sign up for networking groups. “There are certain networking programs that you can sign up for low costs. These force you to maximize your costs and go to these events. Now, I network because I enjoy it.” Ajmal Saleem, Suprex Learning

Maximize LinkedIn. “LinkedIn is the fastest and easiest way to grow your online and offline network if used properly. If you can individualize and send out messages to your new contacts, do so. Those will go a long way. Make sure you give first though, because the chances of a return favor, introduction, call or in-person meeting are much higher and will greatly strengthen your new network.” Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC

Be proactive on social networks. “We’ve found that dialogue on social media has been a great first step for building valuable relationships with strategic partners. We take the time to digest what brands in our space are communicating, and then cultivate creative responses that are warmer than emails. Both sides appreciate that someone is putting in effort to develop a connection rather than blanketing a message.” Justin Moodley, LASANAN