In my recent blog “How to Improve your Small Talk Ability,” I discussed seven tips to enable you to hone this skill and confidently engage with others in conversation.  A place where we truly get to put our small talk abilities into action is at a networking event.

It is therefore important to know how to improve your mingling proficiency when attending such events to ensure you are properly prepared to implement your people skills and mingle like a pro.  Here are ten tips to help you do so:

1.  Eat a small amount of food for energy before the event.  You don’t want to appear hungry or thirsty  – even if you are! The purpose for attending a networking event or hosting one goes beyond hunger or thirst.  Know your purpose; you are there to connect and engage with other people.  Stay focused! Hanging out at the bar or food table is counter-productive to your reason for attending a networking event.

2. Make your presence known to key people in the organization. This is a great way to let your superiors know that you’re out front being supportive of your organization.  If you own your own business, you’re setting a good example for your employees and demonstrating that you are a strong role model. Lead by example.

3. It’s equally important that you make your presence known to your peers.  Acknowledging each of your peer’s presence with a warm greeting and handshake makes you look good and demonstrates that you are a team player.

4. Make your way gracefully into a conversation with strangers. It is actually very easy to do so – simply ask permission.  Extend your hand to the closest person in a conversation group and and say, “Hello, I’m Jane Smith.  May I join you?” The other people in that group will then introduce themselves to you in response to your introduction, and welcome you into the conversation.

5. Avoid the obvious.  It is very challenging to make your way into a conversation with two people in deep conversation.  The easier choice is to look for solo people or groups of three or more.

6. Shake hands with everyone.  When you approach a conversation group, be sure to introduce yourself and shake hands with each member of that group, otherwise, you may make someone feel left out, unacknowledged or not important.

7. Avoid extra gestures of affection.  This may include touching a person’s arm while speaking with them. Such a gesture may be misunderstood.  In today’s litigious climate, one must be careful.

8. Deflect unwanted gestures of affection.  If a person with whom you are speaking reaches out and touches your arm, simply step back to avoid further contact.

9. If it’s a small gathering – circulate.  Try to meet everyone and have a brief conversation to make your presence known.

10. If it’s a large gathering – focus on the key people you want to meet.

No matter where you are – a business meeting, conference, a fundraising event or private dinner party – there is a simple FORMULA for making an entrance and working the room:  Act as if you belong there.  Carry yourself like you paid a million dollars – and you got a bargain!

After 14 years working as a lawyer and law firm manager, Erin Crotty was ready for a change. Trained through the Protocol School of Washington, the Conselle Institute of Image Management, and ProActive Business Leadership, Erin is now a certified business etiquette, protocol and image management expert who has turned her passion into a thriving business – BloomStra Consulting, based in Ottawa, ON.

Erin helps her clients harness the power of etiquette and image management to build successful relationships in business and reach their professional goals. Her clients learn how to increase their confidence and credibility, distinguish themselves in any business or social situation and, ultimately, ‘Outclass the Competition’.

Are you ready to bloom?  Learn more at www.bloomstraconsulting.ca or contact Erin at ecrotty@bloomstraconsulting.ca or 613–614-4540.