Some people relish the idea of a party that allows them to relax and let their guard down. Give their professional persona a rest. So, how do you handle those end of the year parties with meetings that are mixers or appreciation events with colleagues and clients? There is a good mix of business and professional, you want to have fun but not commit professional suicide. Still you don’t want to be so stiff that the fiesta feels like a budget meeting.

 

Apply some gentle tweaks to your corporate networking skills, and the right business plan can make for a productive party.

1. Put your game face on and prepare yourself. Don’t assume that, just because you are attending a party, you cannot enjoy stimulating conversation or gather valuable business connections. Get into “it” and find a way to enjoy. Remind yourself that it is also a work function. Eat a bit before you go and limit alcoholic beverages. It’s easier to socialize if you aren’t focusing on finding food.

2. Introduce yourself and keep moving. This is a chance to get to know more people and help them get to know you. Tell them who you are, and don’t make them guess. Be sure to keep spouses or dates in the loop as well. Keep it short and sweet so that the conversation doesn’t bog down and you can move on to meet others in the room. Everyone is there to circulate, so you shouldn’t monopolize any one person’s time.

3. Focus on the moment. In theory, a party is not the time to overtly maneuver to ask your client for a detailed projection of next year’s activity. The dilution of business talk should be a blessing. It should allow you to focus on the person, not the company that you are talking to. Business should not be the top priority at a party. The main agenda for a holiday get-together is to find a way to have fun.

4. Ask questions and listen. If you don’t know some of the key clients or coworkers that will be at the party, do your best to research them a bit before hand. Knowing that the new member of Accounting is actually a transfer from Texas can give you something to talk about that may not normally come up inside the office.

5. Don’t forget that it is the time for giving. Give people time to talk. Give people the opportunity to shelve work issues. Give people the chance to get to know you.

And, most important – give people the chance to have a great time.