CALGARY – Christmas parties aren’t just about mistletoe and eggnog, they’re also a great time for networking.
Whether you are recently unemployed or looking to climb the corporate ladder, Global News is getting advice on how to take advantage of holiday celebrations from professionalism expert Sue Jacques.
Do your research
Get familiar with the party you’re attending before you even walk through the door.
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“If we prepare in advance, we’re a lot more confident when we walk in the room because we know what to expect,” says Jacques.
Jacques suggests learning more about the company (or person) hosting the party, who might be in attendance and if a sponsor or charity is involved.
In addition, Jacques suggests making an effort to know the tone of the event before attending. For example, is it formal or casual? Knowing these details will also help you dress appropriately.
“There’s nothing like walking into a room wearing jeans and a T-shirt if everybody else is in tuxedos and taffeta,” Jacques adds.
Keep your body language in check
There are five poses that Jacques warns party-goers to avoid – because they will make you look uncomfortable:
– The Fig Leaf: standing with your hands clasped in front of you, below your waist
– The Superman: standing with your hands on your hips
– Hands in Pockets: standing with your hands in your pockets
– The Self-hug: standing with your arms crossed
– The Room-gazer: staring around the room instead of looking at the person you’re speaking with
The best way to appear confident is to stand with your hands by your side and maintain eye contact with the person (or people) you’re talking to.
Don’t socialize with the same people all night
“Sometimes we walk in with somebody we work with, we stick with them all evening and then we leave with them,” says Jacques.
Instead, Jacques recommends you divide and conquer.
“Depart from the person you walked in with, even if it’s just for a little while, and go approach somebody you don’t know.”
If you aren’t sure who to approach, Jacques suggests finding someone who is alone.
Learn how to listen
There’s no quicker way to kill a networking opportunity than by failing to pay attention to the person you’re speaking with.
“We get nervous and we think about what we’re going to say next, instead of listening to what the other person is saying to us,” warns Jacques. “When that happens, we can lose track of the conversation.”
One way to prove you’re a good listener is by asking open-ended questions.
Jacques suggests using the phrase “tell me about,” which gives the speaker plenty of room to elaborate.
Follow up after the event
A simple thank-you note, email or text is a good way to let whoever hosted the party (or invited you to attend) that you enjoyed yourself.
Jacques also recommends following up with any new contacts you made at the event.