Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tips to Surviving the Career Cocktail Party - Keith Ferrazzi

You’ve been to a few parties in your day and know how to pump a keg and avoid embarrassment on the dance floor, but socializing for work is a whole different matter. How can you make the most of a cocktail party that doubles as a networking event?

Business relationship guru and successful author Keith Ferrazzi offers eight helpful suggestions on how to work a professional party. These tips are sure to help those new to mixing career and cocktails to make the most of the night and avoid any potential embarrassment:

  • Don’t cherry pick. Don’t waste the whole event strategizing how to connect with the most popular person there, but by all means take advantage if the chance arises!

  • Use the chance to talk to new and undiscovered people. At the very least you’ll get to practice your conversation skills. One of those unknowns could turn into one of your most treasured lifelines, you never know.

  • Don’t feel like you need to talk to everyone. A few sincere and connected conversations are more valuable than hours of glad-handing.

  • Be approachable. Make eye contact, but not in a creepy stare-down sort of way. Practice your best open body language – unfold your arms and relax.

  • Be an engaged listener. First, really genuinely listen to what the other person is saying. Then find ways to show that you are interested – nod your head, gently touch their elbow, lean in slightly.

  • Be sincere. Make the conversation count, don’t scan the room looking for someone “better” to talk to. For the time that you are engaged in the conversation, be completely present.

  • Know how to make a graceful exit. You shouldn’t feel like being engaged in a conversation means that you are glued to that person for the rest of the evening. You can excuse yourself by offering to go get another round of drinks. If the other person declines the offer, you have no obligation to go back. If they accept, you can strike up another conversation on the way back from the bar and then ask your initial contact to join you and your new friend.

  • Plan for follow up. In order to develop into a true connection, your small talk should end with an invitation to meet again. Compliment your conversation partner on some shared interest and establish a verbal agreement to meet again, even if it’s not about business.

Making connections at a social event doesn’t have to be painful. Take advantage of these ideas to make the most of the time you spend at functions and you might even have fun!