From one public speaker to another. Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker is a regular guest blogger on the Karen McCullough blog. Enjoy
Put the Jingle Back in Your Mingle- 5 Tips to Enjoy Mingling this Holiday Season
by Guest Blogger, Lisa B. Marshall
With so many holiday parties coming up, this is the time of year when everyone could use a refresher on how to mingle. For some people, schmoozing comes naturally. For others, it requires a bit more practice and effort.
Mingling is the ultimate small talk test. For me, making small talk has always made me feel uneasy. Very early on my career, I remember saying: “Well, I don’t understand the point. Small talk, it’s phony and boring. I don’t want to have anything to do with it.” But as my career progressed, I realized the role and importance of small talk. It helps lie down a foundation for future interactions and helps you build a rapport which of course is an important networking skill.
Schmooze Tip #1: Pay Attention
The goal of any office party is to practice your mingling skills by paying attention, taking the lead, listening, sharing, and appreciating. First, before you go to the party, prepare by looking at the headlines.
Look at local and global news. You don’t have to be an expert, just be aware. At the event, pay attention to stuff around you–the traffic, the parking, the venue, the artwork, the theme, the food…everything. During the event, look around the room. The easiest thing to do is just talk to the person you came with or your friends. But instead, challenge yourselves to join the noisiest group–that one with people who appear to be enjoying themselves the most. Or, look for someone who is standing alone and who returns your eye contact with a smile. And don’t stick like glue to the first people you meet. Set a goal to meet a certain number of new people.
Schmooze Tip #2: Take the Lead
One of my clients who had had significant issues with mingling took a different kind of approach to taking the lead. She was in a male dominated industry, so her solution (before she worked with me) was to find the prettiest woman at the party and strike up a conversation with her. When I asked her how this helped, she responded by saying, “Oh, it works like a charm. One time by accident, I was talking to a woman and I noticed how many men made an effort to come meet her. She, in turn was introducing me, so I stuck by her side. I’ve used that strategy many times and it works great for me!”
I don’t recommend that strategy, but it was certainly a unique approach to mingling.
Like my client, most people want to have a pleasant conversation and consider that a difficult task. So get into the holiday spirit by taking the lead. Make a comment, ask a question, or give a sincere compliment
Of course, at holiday parties, you always have the holiday as a conversation starter. “Do you have any special holiday plans?” “Are you all ready for your holidays?” or “What’s your favorite part of the holidays?”
Can’t think of a question? Try a sincere compliment. I emphasize sincere. If you don’t really mean it, don’t bother. Finally, avoid compliments about attire if you are mingling at a work event – the compliment could be misconstrued .
Schmooze Tip # 3: Listen
Once you start a conversation, don’t worry about what you are going to say next. Mingling is about starting with small, shared stuff and letting the conversation naturally grow. Just listen.
Let your natural curiosity and genuine interest guide the conversation.
Try avoiding talking about work and stay clear of potentially uncomfortable subjects such as:
·romance (particularly office romances)
Schmooze Tip #4: Share
Remember, it’s important that you not solely ask questions and listen–that will feel like an interrogation to your conversation partner.
The goal is to find common ground by sharing a few of your own stories too.
Schmooze Tip #5: Appreciate
Make sure you thank the appropriate people at the party. Make it a point to thank the party planners for their hard work. Also be sure to thank the high-ranking folks for the party. Tell them what a great time you had or comment on something you liked. It’s important to express your heartfelt appreciation.
It shows that you don’t take events like these for granted. Finally, if you are talking to someone and another person is waiting, try to include them in the conversation. Or excuse yourself and move on.
Finally, if at the last minute you’re tempted to blow off the social event, don’t. You could be missing the chance to talk with people you normally doesn’t interact with. And you would be giving up an opportunity to practice and master your mingling skills.
Lisa B. Marshall: The Public Speaker
Lisa B Marshall
Lisa B. Marshall is the host of The Public Speaker. For over a dozen years, Lisa has been helping organizations, and individuals to share, present, and discuss ideas in an engaging, persuasive and compelling manner.
Lisa is Passionate. Interactive. Expert. Funny. Practical. Authentic. Helping organizations and individuals to share, present, and discuss ideas in a compelling, concise, and productive manner.