Master NLP practitioner and trainer, Judy Bartkowiak shares some invaluable tips about how to make it through the social season and impress clients, peers and colleagues alike with your witty personality.
Over the next few weeks you will be called upon to meet new people, spend time with people you're not that keen on and put on a brave face as someone you're dreading starts walking towards you. It's Christmas and then comes New Year and unless you're a recluse, this will mean parties, dinners and lots of socializing. For those of us who work freelance or have our own business, this takes on another angle completely because when you are the brand, you have to be aware that people will make a judgement of what you do or what you sell, based on whether they like you as a person. Like it or not, you need to be on top form even if all you really want to do is lie on the sofa and watch TV.
So here are some great tips for getting in the mood for networking.
1. Imagine what the best outcome might be. Look up and to the right to construct a visualization of a great outcome for you. It could be someone asking for your contact details or it could be just having a really good fun time with new friends. Whatever your desirable outcome is, get a vision of it now.
2. How we look affects how we feel so take time to freshen up, change your clothes, brush your hair and look your best so as you catch sight of yourself in a mirror, you think you look just great.
3. Before you leave home think of a couple of topics that you'd feel comfortable to talk about. It doesn't matter what they are but think of a few sentences that you can try out so whatever the situation you can bring those in somewhere and know you've made a contribution. Depending on where you're going and who's going to be there you may have an idea of what topics could come up so decide what your views are and plan how you might express them.
4. When we arrive at a party hungry we are more likely to make the wrong choices of food and drinking on an empty stomach will not have a good outcome so have a light snack before you leave so you feel comfortable but not full. You'll be more relaxed if you're feeling OK about waiting for the food to be brought out.
5. Eye contact is so important. Look people in the eye and hold the look for long enough to check what colour their eyes are. This isn't because I'll test you on it! It is because that is about the right length of time for people to know you've seen them but not too short a time that you look furtive.
6. Move slowly and talk slowly, fast fidgety movements are off-putting and make you appear nervous. When you look relaxed you will feel relaxed so plan your moves around the room, make eye contact, walk towards someone, smiling and open with one of your planned topics.
7. Be curious. We are all different. Set yourself a personal challenge and see how many different views you can find out about. When you are interested, you become interesting. Interesting people attract others to them.
8. Leave before the drink runs out! That means before you will have regrets in the morning. This isn't about being boring or treating you like a child. It is because how you leave this party affect how confident you arrive at the next one.
9. Follow up with people you met to tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them and mention something you talked about so they can tell that it was them in particular that you remembered and you aren't just sending a blanket email or text.
10. It was a great experience, you met some lovely new people, maybe you even got a new client or some business. As you reflect on how well it went, squeeze your earlobe and imagine it all over again. Then next time you need a bit of confidence for socializing, squeeze your earlobe to conjure up that self-esteem.