You've been invited to the party of the year, the one where all the big players will be, and you want to impress but fear you'll overdo it and lose ground. Relax! With a little preparation and a sprinkle of common sense, you can market yourself at any party no matter the stakes.
Obviously, you need to dress for the occasion whether it's polo shirt or black tie. Be well-groomed. Practice speaking to the important people you want to impress, keeping your voice calm and controlled so you don't talk too fast or seem overly eager. Casual confidence is your ally — perfect the art of exuding it and you'll be a hit.
Don't be a fly on the wall. Look for opportunities to engage others in attendance. Make new acquaintances and take a genuine interest in their lives. LISTEN. If you're doing most of the talking, or even more than 20 percent of the talking, it's time to shut up and listen. People love good listeners and will be more fond of you for being one. Smile, but don't overdo it. Do not be the grinning buffoon who walks into everyone else's conversation. Ever see how they handle frat rejects in “Animal House?”
Politely offer your business card only after you've had a successful engagement, and do not make this transaction your only goal. Only hand it out when it seems appropriate. If you force your business card on someone, you'll not only alienate them they'll begin spreading negative word of mouth about you. On the other hand, natural exchanges foster relationships.
Take your time
Don't simply force your way to the head of the pack to get to the top people at the party. If it doesn't happen naturally through an introduction or other happenstance, don't worry. Take your team and seek out the underlings who can lead you to the top. Remember that assistants often serve as gateways to the exec's office, so befriending assistants can earn you the recommendation or introduction you need to break the ice with casual confidence.
If you handed out business cards (or even if you didn't), you should have collected them as well. Follow up with your new acquaintances early the following week, thanking them for the conversation and adding a personal touch. Don't try to sell something – just let them know you're there if you can help with anything and that you look forward to seeing them again. Remember that relationships create opportunities.
What can you add?
Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr.