Parties are a great place to Network—actually, any place is a great place to network, but this article will focus on schmoozing at parties.
- Look forward to the party. If you're shy, or a total introvert, going to a party might feel like you're about to be tortured. That frame of mind will translate into your body language, whether you know it or not. Be optimistic and find a way to get excited about this opportunity to meet new people. It might also help to read How to Go from Introvert to Extrovert.
- Dress to impress. Groom yourself well, and put on the best clothes you have. First impressions are often formed from the way you look, and first impressions can be hard to break, so be sure to use it to your advantage. If you dress like a tramp, people will treat you as a tramp.
- If you know individuals you will meet at the party ahead of the time, do a bit of research into the kind of things they enjoy, so you will be prepared to make meaningful conversations.
- Keep moving. When walking into the room, have a look around. Scan the room and see who you want to go up and talk to. Make sure you get moving straight away as the longer you stand still, the harder it is to get going, and the less time you have to mingle.
- Look approachable. No matter where you are (but hopefully always near people) send out signals that you're friendly, and you want to talk.
active listening. To show the person who is speaking that you are listening, use eye contact and nod as they talk, pacing it in time with their speech. Don't look away as this gives the impression that you are getting bored or distracted. Face them front on and make sure your gestures are in pace with theirs. Also, mirror their gestures and this will make you look like a good listener. See also How to Build Rapport.
- Break into a group. Look for the biggest gap in the group, stand in this gap and look at the people either side of you. Then direct your active listening signals to the speaker. Don't interrupt, but join in with the pace of the group, copying the rest of the group, which will create bonding. Wait until the speaker has finished, then talk about something they have just said, so you tag their conversation. Then start speaking, but introduce yourself quickly to the other people first.
- Move on if it doesn't work. Don't keep standing there. Wait a few seconds, and if the conversation goes in a direction that excludes you, pretend to wave to someone across the room and make a quick exit from the group.
Smile. Even though it's the most primitive sign of introduction, it's easy to forget to do it. A good, genuine looking smile will make you look more positive and approachable. Smile with your eyes as well as your mouth.
- Try to get to know everyone at the party. If it's a big party, this might not help. See also How to Remember Peoples' Names.
- Touch base with everyone you met before leaving. Tell them it was nice meeting them and, depending on the nature of the party, get phone numbers or business cards.
- Write back to them after the party, as appropriate. It is helpful to mention something you discussed with them during the party.