As much as I enjoy parties, my affinity for them diminishes when the attendees are strangers and the agenda is all business. But networking mixers are an unavoidable part of business development, so here are 5 tips to help you make schmoozing more productive.
1. Review the attendee list: You may not always have easy access to the RSVPs, so even if it means contacting the organizer, you are always better off reviewing the attendees so you can seek out those most likely to share business synergy with you.
2. Make an appearance: Even if you make only one or two quality connections, it's worth the trouble of attending. Don't obligate yourself to attend the whole 3-hour event in an aggressive attempt to collect as many business cards as you can. Drop in for 45 minutes and aim for quality over quantity.
3. Ask for help: When you arrive, seek out the greeter or event organizer and let them know of the kinds of people you are looking to meet. They will be able to point out a few productive candidates and potentially broker an introduction.
4. Don't arrive hungry: It's been a long day and you haven't had dinner. Might as well fill up on chips, guac, and chicken skewers, right? Well, unless you are unusually dexterous, you won't be able to hold a cocktail in one hand, shake hands with the other, and fish a business card out of your purse or pocket without spilling something onto somebody. Besides, no one looks good with spinach in their teeth. You're there to make a first impression. Make sure it isn't a messy one.
5. Be bold: It can be awkward to approach someone you don't know, especially if they are embroiled in a conversation with someone else you don't know. I find that facing them at a respectable distance usually communicates that I want to enter the conversation but not at the cost of being intrusive. I pretend that I'm next in line, waiting my turn to speak with them. And if they don't take the cue, I wait for a lull in the conversation and step forward with, "Excuse me, may I join you? I don't know many of the people here so I thought I'd introduce myself." Remember, they are there to network too, so it's highly unlikely they will take offense if you initiate a conversation.
Authored by David Ackert