It always helps to be friendly with your professors. A great way to connect with them is if you are from or are familiar with the area. This does not mean you’re brown-nosing; it just means you are trying to find common ground other than class so you can establish a better connection with your professors.
One of my professors was raised in the same town I was. It gave us something unique to talk about and made her more understanding to issues I was having. It was like we shared a common bond and she was much more likely to excuse me from something than another student.
I am not saying to ask your professors a million weird questions in order to find a commonality, but listen carefully when they speak and maybe you can shoot them an E-mail to let them know you had a similar experience or are from the same area.
Doing this can greatly help your grades since the professor will know who you are when she reads your papers. There will be a connection between the two of you that the rest of the class does not have. This might sound strange and almost creepy, but keep it G-rated when finding common ground.
Your professors are people too and like to know they can share a little something with a student or feel more inclined to answer your questions to a fuller extent. You can learn much more if you have type of friendship with the professor than if you annoy them and show you do not care about your work.
Try to establish this connection over the first two or three weeks of school and it will help you for the entire semester. I find that having a location in common is one of the best ways to establish this connection so take notes and send out an E-mail about something you might have in common with your professors. It will work wonders for the remainder of the semester.