The holidays are here! Whether you’re attending the company holiday dinner or your neighbor’s cocktail party being ready for mingling with strangers or people you don’t know well will make the events much easier for you. Here are four tips to make your mingling stress-free.
Focus on the positive
If you dread holiday parties, the most important thing you must bring to the party is your positive attitude. It is really important to attend the company holiday party to be seen as a team player and to make connections with people who can further your career. So, instead of expecting to have a horrible time at the party, or dreading seeing so and so coworker, focus on the positive. Tell yourself you’re going to have a good time. Sometimes just changing your attitude will help you and others enjoy the event.
Do your research
To make conversation easier, it really helps to do some research on the people you hope to talk to. Go to their LinkedIn profile and see where they went to school, their past jobs and any hobbies or volunteer activities they list. You can also try googling the person’s name. There might be information on awards they have won, boards they have served on or other conversational fodder topics. Knowing a little more about the people you want to talk to will make it easier to start and sustain a conversation. And just think how impressed your CEO will be if you ask her about her passion for CrossFit or her beloved rescue dog.
Get there early
I always find it more challenging and nerve wracking to walk into a party full of people talking to each other. It’s much easier to show up on the earlier side, usually 10 to 20 minutes after the party start time. That way you can be the greeter and strike up a conversation with someone who is walking into the party. That person will be happy to have someone to talk to when they arrive. As more people show up, you can continue to mingle with others.
Ask open ended questions
When conversing with others, whether your boss, the CEO, or your neighbor’s brother, be curious. People love it when others are interested in them. Ask open ended questions – questions that start with who, what, when, where, how, why. Those kinds of questions will get the other person to share more which makes it easier to find something that you can talk about. For instance, rather than asking, “Are you taking time off for the holidays?” ask, “How are you spending the holidays?” Or, “What is your favorite holiday tradition?” Then, rather than responding, “Oh that sounds like fun”, or something along those lines, show curiosity by asking clarifying or additional questions.
You’ll want to share things about yourself as well so that it doesn’t turn into an interrogation. But take some time to ask a few questions and show a sincere interest in the other person before you start talking about yourself.
Happy mingling! Happy Holidays!