I often get asked how do you work a room like a pro when you attend a networking event or party? That is a hard thing to do but I have a few tips for preparing to work the room and then really working it when you arrive! You can do it!
1) START THE PARTY - When you arrive at the event, get your bearings. Look around the room, look for the host, look for those you know, look for the bar. Then make your move. You can always greet the host. You can also go to a friend/colleague you know well just to start conversation. If you don't see someone you know, go to the bar. Inevitably there is a line there and you can find someone to speak with.
2) BREAK FROM THE BAR - People often get stagnant - they find one group and stay in one place by the bar of buffet all night because it's the comfortable thing to do. But, do not stay at the bar or buffet for long! You are not at parties to eat or drink. You go to honor someone, meet someone, fulfill work obligations, etc. Do those things - not stuff yourself on bad quiche bites.
3) INTRODUCE YOURSELF LIBERALLY - So go introduce yourself to someone new! If you do not know anyone at the event, walk up to a group that looks like it is having a good time and say, "Hi, my name is ____. Your group looked like it was having such a good time I thought I'd like to join." The group will pull you right in and in no time you will be making new connections. Make sure you state your name clearly so people know who they are meeting and if you have name tag, write your name largely and legibly.
4) MOVE AROUND - Don't stay in the same group too long! It is important to keep moving throughout the party. While it may be comfortable to stay with one group the whole night, you should not. Stay a reasonable amount of time to get to know people, but break that conversation to make a move to a new group. This will broaden your circle and make the most of the event. I usually give myself a goal of meeting 3-5 new people. This goal reminds me to keep moving!
5) MAKE SMALL TALK COUNT - In all the groups, have meaningful conversations. People like talking about themselves, so open ended questions that allow people to discuss themselves will always keep the conversation going. Think of "how" questions. Those make for easy open ended questions like "how do you know the host?, how did you hear about this event?, how long have you lived here?, etc. The answer to these questions is usually a lenghty one that you can build a conversation on if you are listening!
Do you have any questions about how to work the room? Please ask! Now, party on!
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This post is dedicated to some of my favorite unique boutiques. They are not products you will find at every shop in town - these pieces will really make you stand out! And each of these unique boutiques has amazing discounts just for Polished Professionals readers. All pictures feature at least one of these three brands - Laura J. Finery (jewelry), Claud Furst (handbags) and Downtown Chic (modern, professional attire). I tell you a little more about each below.
JEWELRY - I saw a friend wearing wearing a wrap bracelet one day and I asked where she had gotten it. She told me she bought from a fellow Houstonian named Laura and with that I will say the rest is history. I totally fell in love with the woman and the jewelry. Laura is an amazing talented artist who hand makes all here amazing beadwork. You can see me wearing her bracelets, necklaces, earrings and wraps in each of these pictures (and all over my instagram). You can see how versatile her products are. They are made of amazing stones and come in variety of styles. Her wraps are one my favorite pieces - they can be worn as a long necklace, doubled up for a shorter necklace or wrapped as a bracelet. One piece goes a long way. You can get a special discount with code "polishedprofessionals" when you check out at her site here.
BAGS - I started following Claud Furst on instagram last fall. I loved the bags and I really wanted to meet the designer. And believe it or not it happened! I went to London and met the beautiful and talented woman behind this professional women's bag brand Claud Furst. The quality is impeccable and they have a great design to allow you to store all your essentials and then some. It comes in a variety of colors so you can really easily transition each piece with your wardrobe. I also love that the design allows you to have a short strap for a shoulder bag or lengthen the strap for a cross body. It has been a great travel companion for me as you can see in my pics! And you get a discount with code "PP20" when you shop here.
CLOTHES - I have also been following Downtown Chic on instagram for a while. I loved the modern feel of all their clothes. Then I got to collaborate with them and really loved the pieces! The black top you see on repeat here is a Downtown Chic piece as well as the dress below. I love the quality of the products and the versatility. Their products are also super reasonably prices - mostly been $19-$50! And in addition they also get a great exclusive Polished Professionals Discount "polished15" when you shop here.
Thank you to Laura J. Finery, Claud Furst, and Downtown Chic for the amazing relationships and sponsorship of pieces in this post.
I have traveled a lot over the years for work and play. I think I am pretty good at it these days. I can pack for a 10-12 day trip in a carry on and a big purse - #winning! I have some tried and true products I never leave without. My travel essentials are linked in the pictures below. They definitely include my favorite suitcase (available in three colors), noise canceling headphones, my travel pillow, my eye mask, and easy travel clothes and comfortable shoes that you can mix and match for work and play.
Once you are all packed, you head to the airport and board the plane. Because I travel so much I have seen a lot on airplanes. I am probably more sensitive than most but I do think it's worth considering how others may react to you on a plane. Plane etiquette is just as important as office etiquette in my mind. Why? You never know who will be on a plane - maybe your CEO or a client? Be careful. Here are a few things to consider to make sure you are not the problem person on a plane....
You have all sat next to someone on a plane or train who has their headphones on so loudly you can sing along with them. You have also sat next to the person that is playing a video game on their phone or Ipad but keeps the volume on so you can hear every gun blast. This message is to all - please please please be cognizant of your own noises from your phones, music, games, and computers. What you hear as white noise can be very disturbing to other passengers. Additionally, keep your own volume to a minimum. I am a loud talker but on planes or trains I try to keep my voice down if talking to my neighbor. I recently had a flight where I could recite the entire conversation between two people a row and an aisle away from me. That's too loud! Know your voice and if your friend does not know his or her own voice - help him and try to keep the talking low (people will often mimic what their partner does or you could politely say I see that man is trying to sleep over there, I think we should try to keep it down). The whole plane will thank you for it! Also I must give a recent kudos to a United flight attendant. She was kind enough to ask a gentleman to turn off the noises from his video game. Not all attendants do that but I really appreciated her effort. Keep it up please for the rest of the plane's sake!
To peaceful travels with all the essentials you need! Just click on the pictures below (scroll with arrows left and right) for some of my favorite travel essentials for work and play.
Everyone says networking is the best way to land your next job or better yet, your dream job. I don't think networking is the only way, but it is a great way to get a foot in the door somewhere. So what does that mean to you? It means you have to get out there! But where is "there"?
I want to submit that it is not just your industry organizations that you need to consider as "networking" opportunities. Think of networking as anyone you meet, anywhere! People fall into the trap that networking only happens when they go to a cocktail hour with the Young Lawyers Association, Petroleum Engineers Society, or Association of CPAs.
But networking happens all the time and it can happen in places that you really want to be! For example, think about your charitable activities. If you are involved in charities, they are a great place to network. So why do I think it is such a great place to network? First, the hurdle of 'do you have anything in common' is overcome. You both are at a charity together; you have a common purpose. Second, charities often need people with various skills like accounting, lawyering, advertising, etc. Charities are a great place to show off your skills to a diverse group of people (and potential employers!!).
So when you get involved, get really involved and get to know some folks. They could be a key to your next job. Also, think about your church, soccer mom group, or other neighborhood/civic involvement. You get involved in these anyway so make them a place where you can "network" by planning an event, shaking some hands, and really getting to know others in the group. Expanding your friend pool is a great way to expand your networking pool as well. These tips I hope make it easier for your to think about networking. The task itself can be daunting if you let it be. But networking in environments where you are comfortable can make it really productive. Go shake some hands!
An easy sheath dress is one of my go to looks for networking events. It is easy to wear and universally flattering. Just click on pictures below to be taken to these looks.
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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