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Mingling Effectively at Company Gatherings

Believe it or not, mingling is a vitally important business skill. Mingling well demonstrates that you're a friendly, open, and engaged person who is interested in other people. Mingling poorly shows others that you're either unsure of yourself or so egotistical that you can't listen to others.

Nowhere is the art of mingling more important to your career than at a company party. Make the rounds at the party. Don't spend all your time talking to one person; you want to circulate. Other people will be anxious about mingling and will welcome your efforts to make conversation.

The following tips show you how to make the most out of an event and be a good representative for your company:

  • Be prepared. Know what you want to accomplish at the event — to meet a number of people, find a particular resource, or get noticed.
  • Remember to carry business cards and exchange them when appropriate.
  • As you circulate, make sure you politely excuse yourself from the conversation. To say nothing as you exit is considered rude.
  • Hold your drink in your left hand so that if you are introduced to someone, you don't extend a cold, wet hand to shake.
  • Always avoid making negative comments. You don't have to lie, but never slander your employer or coworkers. Even if you think the company is mismanaged, keep it to yourself.
  • Don't overindulge at work events. Your behavior is a reflection of your company, and staying sober can keep you from saying things you will regret later.
  • Introduce yourself and others properly. If possible, learn the names of the attendees and the appropriate way of making an introduction beforehand. If name tags are available, wear one.

Make eye contact, give solid handshakes, and try to speak to people you haven't met before. You never know what doors may open for you simply because you made the effort to greet your colleagues in another department. Follow the preceding guidelines and you'll be set!

Mingle! Don't let fear stop you from approaching someone you've never met. With a bit of practice and planning before the event, you'll soon be conversing with confidence.

While making small talk with a new group of people, the worst thing you can do is keep glancing around for someone better to engage in conversation. You can't find a faster way to make someone feel unimportant. When you're speaking with someone, she should receive your full attention — no wandering eyes!

Cocktail parties and other mingling events usually are noisy and punctuated with interruptions. They're not ideal venues for serious business conversations, so people will appreciate your keeping the conversation light. If you see the potential for a fruitful business discussion, hand the other person your business card, and say you will call her to make an appointment to continue the conversation.

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