Although the importance of maintaining a professional persona while at the office cannot be understated, it is equally valuable to interact with others properly at events outside of the office. Golf tournaments, company BBQ’s and networking mixers are all opportunities to connect with your peers and further your professional relationships.
This of course can be easier said than done, and for many people, it does take some time to adjust to these types of things. There is no better place to practice your business-setting social skills than at a local business mixer.
Getting the most out of events such as these is straightforward, but it does require some insider knowledge, and it always helps to be prepared. That’s why the following tips will come in handy for anyone looking to improve upon their skills and etiquette at business events.
This is especially important for the gentlemen to remember. No offense guys, but there are those among us who have sometimes been known to neglect this important aspect of social networking. Even if the occasion is less than formal you will want to err on the side of caution.
Nothing is worse than showing up under-dressed to a black tie event. Make sure to read the invitation carefully, and if you are still unsure, throw on a tie and shine up some shoes. You can always lose a jacket or necktie late if you feel overdressed.
Have a Goal
Make sure that you go to the event with a clear idea in mind of what you want to do. This could mean getting on a first name basis with some of the attendees, or even impressing your boss with some witty banter.
Regardless of what you wish to achieve, you’ll want to have at least one goal decided on when you walk in the door. Walking around the room, introducing yourself to people and projecting a positive persona will all help show others that you are serious, and will leave a lasting impression.
Be Cool and Calm
This may seem like something obvious, but let’s just say it anyway – do not have too much alcohol to drink. It may seem harmless, but it could follow you around for years, and it is the type of thing that will surely ruin your professional prospects. One drink is okay, as it will help you blend in, but if you are not a drinker just help yourself to a coke or something that you can hold in your hand.
As for the food, make sure to sample lightly, and do not get caught stuffing your face in front of a potential contact. It would also be wise to hold back for a few minutes once the food is served so that you don’t come across as rude or overeager.
Finally, be sure to answer questions with more than a simple yes or no. Listen attentively, and when you want to move on, don’t get caught yawning or gazing around. Wait for a pause and say, “It’s been a pleasure talking with you and I look forward to meeting you again.” Any new contacts you may have made should be sent a quick thank you email to let them know you appreciated meeting them. These tips will come in handy the next time you’re ready to attend a business mixer or networking event.