5 Ugly, Embarrassing Screw-Ups To Avoid
The slew of parties, dinners, and mixers that you attend at this time of year is what makes the holiday season unlike any other time of year. The other thing that makes it unlike any other time of year is the high concentration of business mixer blunders committed.
Just as during the rest of the year, the key is moderation. The holiday season is not an isolated period that people forget come January 1st. Do not forget that your actions have repercussions for your professional reputation and relationships.
Proper business mixer etiquette demands that you approach the holidays with an equal measure of cheer and common sense. Otherwise, you risk damaging the reputation you worked so hard to cultivate throughout the year.
The following are 5 ugly, embarrassing screw-ups to avoid at business mixers.
1. Aggressively passing out cards
Set a realistic number for the amount of people you want to meet and truly connect with and stick to it. Spend roughly three to ten minutes with each person but be aware of your surroundings.
Set an appointment to meet at a later time to learn more and effectively pursue this new relationship.
Avoid treating the mixer like a networking marathon.
2. Talking only about yourself
Do not think of the business mixer strictly as a networking opportunity. Designate five to ten minutes to ask questions, and find out how you fit in. During this time, respond to questions with quick answers and navigate the conversation right back to them.
Offer to follow up and thank them for their time. The goal is to have them remember you for your tact and etiquette, as opposed to your persistence and aggressiveness.
3. Being shy
Typically, people who stand back and wait for things to happen, miss everything. Networking has a way of happening organically, but not without the initial spark.
If you find yourself standing in a corner waiting for someone to come to you, look to another corner. There is likely someone standing there looking for someone to speak to. Go ahead and introduce yourself. They will likely be thankful you did.
4. Card exchange etiquette
Most of us grab a card, glance at it then, it disappears into our pocket and later the laundry mat.
Make sure to look at the card. Find something interesting about it and make the remark. People put time and energy into creating their card; they will appreciate you noticing.
Hold the card during the conversation and look from the person to their name several times to ensure that you remember their names.
Later, write something special about the meeting on the back of the card. This can be an accomplishment, a comment, a joke they told, or any other unique thing about that meeting.
5. Follow up
Nothing is more important than how and when you follow up. Let no more than two days pass before mailing a personal, hand-written note.
For a big impact, go back and reference what you have written on their business card. In your personal note, include a complimentary remark about them that they will remember discussing with you at the mixer.
The next follow up is a call within a week. There are two things to do during this call. First, tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them. Then set an appointment to meet with them and learn more about their business.
Remember that the business mixer is a chance for people to feel appreciated for a job well done and to further enhance a sense of community in the workplace. The most common mistakes are committed not because of malicious intent but from excessive behavior. Keep these tips in mind at your next mixer and transition into the next year with a clean conscience.
Author: Yo Noguchi is a small business marketing expert and a frequent contributor to an online blog hosted by Benchmark Email, an email marketing software provider.