Find a bar that's just right
The bar should be close by, and primed for both post-work and late-night drinking -- a place where you can both pop in on your way home from the office and stumble home from after one-too-many tequilas. Similarly, you'll want a place with a good but not crazy-expensive drink selection (so you won't get bored/go broke), a laid-back atmosphere (so you can relax and get to know people), and a decently maintained level of cleanliness (because you'll get real familiar with that bathroom, trust me).
Opt for a stool over a table
This one's a bit of a no-brainer, but nobody remembers the quiet dude in the back. Don't be afraid to park it at the bar even if you're too shy to make conversation at first. After a few weeks, the staff can't help but remember you because at the end of the day, face time is what really matters.
Establish a routine
Bars can be busy, unreliable places. Turnover is often high, patrons come and go, and shifts change on a whim. When I started frequenting my regular spot, I made a habit of coming in on Sunday afternoons armed with the New York Times crossword and a thirst for cold session IPAs. Before long, the Sunday staff and I were thick as thieves and they in turn introduced me to the other bartenders, expanding my reach and further establishing my regular status. Plus, if you're the kind of person who aspires to be the human version of a neon beer sign, you're probably no stranger to the joys of a good routine.