As Christmas approaches the invites to corporate parties flood in. Opportunities to network is the name of the game. Or is it the worst way to spend an evening? You feel you need to attend but are scared, hang onto the wall, talk to a few inappropriate people and come away horribly disappointed.

Here are 12 pointers to help you improve radically:

  1.  Know why you’re there – Is it for the social side, to develop sales or to raise your profile. Then ask the question “Can I achieve that here?”
  2.  Set low expectations – aim to get NO MORE THAN 2 business cards or useful / relevant contacts
  3.  Treat every interaction as a “Conversation of Possibilities” – Go with an open mind, not a targeted sales pitch.
  4.  Check seating plan – Sod’s Law of Networking. If there a dinner, you are likely to be sitting next to the person you spend time talking to prior to the dinner, wasting an opportunity.
  5.  Leave residual energy – Give more than you take. Good Karma as @guykawasaki would say
  6.  Be interested in them – Ask open questions rather than try ans steer the conversation back to you all the time
  7.  Badge on right lapel – When you shake hands that is where their eyes go
  8.  Getting rid of someone – Introduce to someone else, or say “I need to move on”
  9.  If you know nobody in the room – Take your time and look around, look at groups for opening, join but don’t stop the conversation, introduce your self in a FEW SHORT WORDS – make an impression
  10.  Business cards – If you want them to take your card, ask for theirs
  11.  Taking notes – Take a pen to write notes on the back of their card
  12.  Follow-up – do what you said you would. SO FEW PEOPLE DO. This one simple act wil make you stand out.

Enjoy the experience, don’t focus on the results. Finally – you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find the princes.