By Janet Adetu
At JSK Etiquette Consortium we started a new initiative the Unique U Network all to boost the confidence of women. The platform is to encourage women, to mix and mingle more in a bid to share and gain knowledge, promote individual professions, products, services, tap into the experience of others and ultimately to grow personally and professionally. The network is to provide that platform for easy discussions, building relationships and moving businesses to the next level.
There are many occasions when you are invited to events, many reasons affect the decision to attend, a lot depends on your values, objectives and willingness to do things differently. It is probably easier when you arrive at the event and you find yourself among those you know. Most times this may not be the immediate case, you may step into a gathering and you do not recognize anyone you know, this can make you switch off impromptu. I find that for many it takes a little while to gain your momentum and feel comfortable with the environment before you eventually open up. This is simply human nature, others find it easier some just cannot cope at all. The truth is “why are you there?”
Is it a social invite, a business gathering or a one off event, a formal occasion or a function you had no choice but to be in attendance? What is your goal for the day? Could it be any of the following?
- *To meet new people
- *To hang out with old friends
- *To let your hair down.
- *To listen to good music
- *To socialize as a hobby.
- *To gain new insight and knowledge
- *To know what is trending.
- *To discover great opportunities
- *To move your business forward.
- *To get new acquaintances
- *To build your relationship network
- *To spread the word
- *To gain business opportunities
- *To market your business, product or service.
- *For promotion
- *To move to your next level
Whatever your goal is I find the art of mixing and mingling still has not been mastered. I also discovered that when it comes to networking there are numerous dilemmas that should be avoided. They may appear intrinsic or go unnoticed but have the potential to make or sabotage a possible relationship, read on.
Easiest advice I can give here is to eat something small before you go to a mix and mingle event. You do not want to spend the whole evening eating your way through because you are hungry. You will not find a full meal on a plate at a networking event, except for nibbles and bites. The essence is not about the food, it is about you seizing the opportunity to meet people who can grow you, your career or your business.
Just like food, we love free things, but caution must be practiced so as not to over do it, especially where there is alcohol. Eyes are all over you even when you cannot see them. Excess drinking leads you to excess talking, and loose lips, the walls do have ears so watch it too.
What are you saying? is it relevant?
In conversing it is not time to name drop or tell us all the important people you know, you met or you are related to. It is also not the time to make it a Me, Myself, and I affair, no bragging,no boasting, no bullying. Create a chemistry with the person or people you are among, find what interests you all or strike a chord. Pay each other compliments to build momentum, talk about something fun, flexible, fashionable or flowing. The outcome of the day depends on the conversations you create. Begin to throw in business talk when you are comfortable with those you are with. It is not always about business, be relaxed too and just build acquaintances, friends, business relationships as you deem fit.Go with the flow, be expectant but don’t overdo it.
Avoid getting too familiar or too closeto people while standing you will know this when there is discomfort in your stance. All forms of intimate, confidential gestures are prohibited. Avoid offending others with the wrong remarks or negative body language, be pleasant to others, courteous, kind and polite and considerate. Try not to appear flirty by being overzealous. It is important to act professional where necessary. Keep a reasonable distance when you are standing talking, be approachable, authentic, affirmative, and attentive.
What type of event is it? What is being celebrated?
Who is likely to be there?
Is it social, formal, businesslike?
What should you wear?
Do not be nonchalant about what to wear to networking events. Keep it neat, dress to fit in and not to belong. It is not a fashion show so do not overdo it. Be professional, follow your own style, be comfortable.Follow the dresscodeas much as possible. Have fun while you are there and be your true self.