In Ottawa, perhaps more than any other city in Canada, the holiday season brings valuable after-hour cocktail receptions that, if used properly, can help vastly expand your business network.
Using holiday after-hour events to create opportunity for future business development may be the greatest present you can give to yourself. When outclassing the competition is your ultimate aim, consider these useful tips for making a lasting impression and strengthening your network.
- Wear appropriate attire. Avoid being too casual even when ‘business casual’ is the billing. Find out what others are wearing and match the tone with your outfit.
- Business cards are tools. Give out plenty and collect as many.
- Eat before arriving. Drinking on an empty stomach is asking for trouble. Space all drinks with water and conversation.
- Arrive on time. Take a moment to briefly survey the room. Knowing the people with whom you would like to connect and the location of the bar and buffet will allow you to move through the room with purpose.
- When accepting a business card, take a moment to thoroughly read the name, position and company name of your new acquaintance.
- When mingling, avoid groups engaged in serious discussion, but instead choose those who invite easy eye contact. Open each conversation with —“May I join you?” Be sure to acknowledge your co-workers and your superiors and talk about work issues in a positive manner.
- Present a firm two-pump handshake, offering your name and repeating theirs. There’s no greater courtesy than remembering someone’s name.
- Practice listening. Small talk is always more pleasant when you ask about the other individual.
- Do not be the last to leave. When an event is billed as concluding at a certain hour then take your leave a few minutes earlier than billed.
Remembering these basic courtesies will not only help leave a favourable impression but will signal your refined manners and business sophistication.
Sheefra Brisbin is the founder of Greenbridge Consulting Group and a recognized leader in Canadian business protocol, strategic communications and government relations. Sheefra is a proud graduate of the Protocol School of Washington, the only accredited business etiquette, image and international protocol school in North America.