Well the Christmas party season is now in full swing. But before you begin necking the free champagne at your work-related functions, don’t forget that every social occasion is an opportunity for networking. That doesn’t mean acting like an annoying brazen careerist, running around stuffing business cards into people’s hands and clamouring over conversations to talk to the CEO, though. There are a few simple ways you can get the most out of the occasion while still enjoying yourself.
Dress appropriately. Don’t be fooled into thinking that first impressions don’t matter. If you talk to the boss for an hour with your boobs bursting out of your dress, he’ll probably remember your boobs, but won’t take you all that seriously, no matter how many clever things you say. That doesn’t mean you should dress like an old woman, be stylish (after all, you do want people to remember you), just make sure it’s appropriate; check the dress code beforehand. Don’t be afraid to stand out and use your best assets to your advantage, just do so in a work-appropriate way.
Smile. Looking like you are enjoying yourself is a much easier way to get talking with people than marching around with a checklist of people of importance to talk to. And if you do find yourself talking to a bigwig, relax and don’t try to sound like you’re trying too hard to impress – a bit of friendly banter might get you further in this setting.
Carry a simple handbag. This is for one simple reason: you need your business cards to be in easy reach. When introduced to new people, the first thing that tends to happen is the exchanging of business cards; if you have to sort through a bag of lip gloss and tissues to find yours it won’t make such a wonderful impression. Carrying a simple clutch that you can carry under your arm with your cards easy to find will also help make that handbag-and-glass-of-wine handshaking situation less awkward.
Don’t drink too much. Being totally hammered is a great way to get people to remember you, but for the wrong reason. That’s not to say you can’t drink at all, in fact a glass or two of wine often helps people in social situations relax a little – just don’t overdo it.
Carry a pen. Meeting a lot of people in one evening can make it difficult to remember who’s who in the following days and weeks. If you find it overwhelming to remember faces, carry a pen and jot a small reminder on the back of their business card when you’re finished talking to them (such as something you spoke about or something they were wearing) to jog your memory. It will also help you avoid introducing yourself to someone you have already met in future – a shore fire way to offend people.