We’ve all been there… it’s Friday evening and you’re finally off the clock and ready to kick back and relax. Only problem? You may just miss your next big opportunity by not being ready to network at that black-tie event or backyard barbeque you have on your calendar this weekend. A few tips to always keep in mind:
- An Opportunity, Not an Obligation.
Instead of looking at ‘optional’ social events as simply that, try looking at them as opportunities! How many times have you said to yourself, “I have to go to this happy hour” or “I have to go to this event on Saturday.” Instead, try dropping in the word “opportunity”…. doesn’t ”I have the opportunity to go to this happy hour” sound so much better? Once you start looking at social events as opportunities instead of obligations, your next conversation just may be the one that changes your life!
- Flip your thoughts on networking upside down.
Whether at a networking event or a ‘social’ gathering, you always need to remember networking doesn’t have to have a negative connotation. A lot of people go into networking thinking “what can you do for me?” When you flip that thought upside down and begin thinking “what can I do for you?” that is when you can transform a new or long- standing relationship into a partnership.
- Always. Be. Prepared.
One of the worst mistakes you can make when attending a social event is to not invest the same time and research that you would if you were going into a business meeting. Research and knowledge will prepare you for the counterparts you’ll meet at different events that can cross over and really become a partner to you in your professional life. Know the names of a few people attending? Take a moment to do a quick Google search or check out their social media beforehand and see if you have any commonalities in what’s trending on their twitter or what they’re posting on Facebook. Finding a connection before you arrive equals a guaranteed conversation once you get in the room.
- 9 to 5? More like 24/7.
Remember, your job might be 9 to 5 officially, but your career? It’s 24/7. The line between business and pleasure has long been erased – always make the most of every opportunity that comes your way!
- Reach outside of your circle!
As First Lady, Jackie Kennedy had a rule. If you were invited to a “social” function at the White House you were able to bring a guest but after cocktails and the receiving line with the President, First Lady and other heads of state and you crossed that threshold to the dining room…you were sat at different tables for dinner. This was the First Lady’s way to entice conversation and getting you to reach outside of your circle. Instead of making the rounds speaking with the same people at every outing or event…meet someone new. You never know when the next conversation will be the one to change your life or that of someone else!
Laura Schwartz is the author of Eat, Drink and Succeed: Climb Your Way to the Top Using the Networking Power of Social Events. To order copies in bulk for your event, please visit BulkBooks.com.