Not too long ago I was at a presentation in Ottawa designed to help attendees get a leg up on turning mingling into networking, while making good first impressions, in social encounters. It was led by a couple, ‘experts’ in the field of The Art of the Cocktail.
Rules of practical behaviour and etiquette, to some extent obvious but nonetheless relevant, included:
- Don’t go up to someone and ask “Remember me?”; don’t correct mispronunciations in public
- Have a sincere, short personal introduction; balance comments and questions; maintain eye contact
- Use transitions if shifting to ‘business conversation’
- Have business cards ready in a card case, not a wallet; if you want someone to have your card, ask for theirs
- Approach a group of three or more which looks ‘open’, then move from non-verbal feedback to verbal; watch for cues, including others who may wish to join
- Lead up to leaving a group via closed or rhetorical questions and transitions, and conclude with a polite comment
- Don’t visit a buffet more than twice, except for dessert
- Fold napkins a third of the way on one’s lap, so that ‘all soiling goes under the fold’
- Safe conversation topics generally include travel, the weather, non-controversial subjects, or areas in common
- Conversation topics usually to avoid include personal health, intimate or gossipy information, or stories in questionable taste
- Have other-focused questions handy, as it’s ‘better to be interested than interesting’
- If talk is business related, use soft terms like agreement, approve, and opportunity rather than ones like contract, sign, and deal; avoid using lingo
- If dealing with criticism, clarify, use verbal cushions, don’t argue, and keep responses short
- Enter being self-aware of one’s attitude, ready for being involved in the event
- Appreciate that networking is part of life, so be prepared to get help and to follow-up
The implicit challenge is to put such tips into practice when planned or extemporaneous occasions arise.
Comments on: "Engaging ‘The Art of the Cocktail’" (2)
Great tips here.. thanks! Are you Canadian as well?
Yes, I am a Canadian living in Ottawa. Thanks for your comment!