As December rounded the corner, the season for office parties officially began. Some are purely staff parties while others are networking events where one is supposed to mix, mingle and strengthen relationships.
For me, the strengthening of relationships come quite easily. I can talk to people I have already talked to with no problems. My difficulty lies in walking up to perfect strangers and starting a conversation. At a gala benefit Monday night, I had the opportunity to observe what I call the networkers extraordinaires. They are generally very high up on the totem pole. (CTO’s, presidents, chairmans, etc) I suppose there is a reason they were chosen to be the faces of an organization.
So for the rest of us, I have carefully observed some skills that they all seem to have in common:
1) They really just walk up and introduce themselves to people like they own the event. I almost felt like the party was given in their living rooms, they seemed so comfortable. Most of the time, they will ask someone close by information on the people, then walk up and introduce themsleves. But if non-one has any information, they will just walk up, extend a hand and a smile and proceed fearlessly. I asked one of these people what they say. The answer? “Hello, my name is so and so from xxx. I don’t believe we’ve met” Yeah its not rocket science. I supposed its one of those things you just have to do.
2) Tactfully getting rid of people. Once they have evaluated whether this peron is worth their time or not, they can tactfully leave the conversation in a graceful manner without letting on that theya re actually dissing the person. I have observed this when person A is a ‘celeb’ and person B is a ‘hanger on’ They will listen, answer questions, appear interested and yet manage to gracefully exit the conversation before the other person realizes what is actually happening. I believe that this is one area alot of people overlook. They come off as being snobby and dismissive. Its a small world out there, the best networkers never burn bridges.
3) They listen. Its an actual conversation with them. They are not merely looking for an audience for their monologues, but they actually make new aquaintances and friendships.
4) They follow up. They follow up on the people…or atleast they are responsive to on-going communication. Alot of these networking extroadinaires have an amazing memory for faces and names. They connect people to other people and it becomes a mutually beneficial relationship.
So those are my four points that I gathered from watching these folks. I am still trying to overcome my shyness…but it really helps to watch the experts in action.