Reminding myself that I must do this, I scan the area for my first victim. There, standing alone , I spy it. As I slowly make my way closer, I make eye contact and reach out my hand to -– right as it begins to lick it’s fingers.
True story, folks! At mingling functions, I seek out people standing alone. Approaching individuals early in the event gives me confidence to tackle the larger groups. It also helps the loners feel more comfortable. The man licking his fingers quickly overcame his embarrassment as we traded social faux pas. We still keep in touch.
The holiday season is here. Upcoming business and social functions at which you must bravely meet and chat with strangers may feel like a walk to the gallows. Have courage. These tips will help you know what to do.
The grip. Wimpy, limp, or bone-crushing handshakes make a person seem weak and insecure. To have a firm, confident handshake, hold your fingers out straight with your thumb up. Once your hands are in place, they will naturally curl together for a firm and comfortable handshake. Trust me, handshakes matter.
The eyes have it. Have you had a conversation with someone who won’t look you in the eye? In the United States, avoiding eye contact appears dishonest, disrespectful, disinterested, or lacking in confidence. If someone seems to look over your shoulder instead of focusing on you, speak to them only when you have eye contact. If that does not work, excuse yourself and find a more polite person.
Icebreakers. People say they hate small talk, but we all do it all the time. It enables you to learn what you have in common. Current events, movies, books, weather, hobbies, and children are always great conversation topics. Prepare a mental list of questions. Questions that start with “what” usually keep the other person talking longer. Asking that first question is always the hardest part. Since you are both at the same event, you already have something in common.
Clean hands. You were not invited because you looked hungry. Don’t make a run for the food or drinks when you first arrive. Eat something before attending. Finger food should be eaten with your left hand so your fingers aren’t “finger-licking good” for handshaking. Since a wet handshake is disgusting, the same applies to your drink.
Card smart. Do not pass out your business card like a casino dealer. Wait until someone asks for it; it won’t land in the trash if the person wants it. Take plenty of cards that look clean and new.
Wallflower. You were not invited to hold up the walls. Be bold; walk up to people and introduce yourself. They may feel as uncomfortable as you and appreciate your assertiveness. The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you will feel.
Mingling is not so hard; just be brave, approachable, and friendly. Try to enjoy yourself, make a new friend, and, please don’t lick your fingers.
Teri Haynes | Business Interactions, LLC | Improving human interactions in business