Advice for Students

10 Etiquette Tips to Help you Shine at Business Cocktail Receptions

August 01, 2018  |     |   0 Comment

In business, many important events take place after traditional work hours.  After-hours business cocktail receptions are a valuable venue for networking and provide the opportunity to connect with new people and build relationships. The key to your success is knowing how to work the event! When attending a business cocktail reception, the messages you project through your professional image and presence should indicate that doing business with you is a pleasure. Here are ten etiquette tips for making a positive first impression upon the people you meet and opening the doors to relationship building:

1. Dress for success.  Communication experts believe that 55% of the total message presented by a person during a first meeting consists of that person’s personal appearance. Like it or not, how we dress has an impact on people’s perception of us; and their perception is influenced by their first impression of us.  It only takes 5 seconds to form first impression, so make your image work for you. Your image is your visual resume. Wear appropriate business attire. By making a positive first impression through your physical appearance, it will open the door to people wanting to learn about your innate qualities and character.

2. Make an effective entrance. Everyone watches the entrance to a room. Use this to your advantage.  Enter with confidence and good posture. Don’t make a dash for the food table or bar – it would be counter-productive to your purpose for attending a business cocktail event. Remember, you’re not there simply because you may be hungry or thirsty. People who make a powerful entrance never rush. Once you enter the room, pause, step to the right, scope the room and decide whom you will approach to have your first conversation.  And then move forward to do so – start mingling.

3. Gracefully enter a conversation.  Never barge into a conversation.  Instead, move near the conversation group you wish to join, wait for a break in the conversation, make eye contact, smile and ask, “May I join you?” Then, shake hands with each individual in that conversation group, looking them in the eye and clearly stating your name as well as theirs.  When deciding whom to speak with, avoid the obvious such as two people in deep conversation. Rather, look for solo people or groups of three or more to join for a conversation.

4. Be aware of your body language.  You want to be engaging and put others at ease, so be aware of what you may be saying just by your body language. People can see what you are not saying! Have good posture because it instantly creates an impression of confidence and sets the stage for others to accept you as a winner. Smile – it makes you more approachable. When conversing with others, stand in a semi-circle format in order to encourage others to join you. A circle format closes you off and leaves the impression that you are unapproachable.

5. Know where to place your name badge. If you receive a name badge at a business cocktail reception, place it on your right hand side about four inches down from your shoulder.  When you extend your right hand for a handshake, the line of sight naturally goes to the other person’s right side.

6. Always keep your right hand free.  Keep your right hand free so you are able to properly introduce yourself and shake hands with people, as well as give and receive business cards.  Hold your drink, napkin, or cocktail plate in the left hand. Protocol dictates that you should only hold one item in your left hand at a time.

7. Master your handshake.  Handshakes are the ultimate greeting.  A handshake is the physical link between two people, and the physical greeting that goes with our words. At business cocktail receptions, you should feel perfectly at ease shaking hands with whomever you meet.  A handshake reveals a great deal about a person’s personality, feelings and motivations.  It also conveys one’s attitude toward others.  You are judged by your handshake.  Therefore, it is important that your handshake is firm, but friendly.  A firm handshake speaks loudly about your credibility, confidence and professionalism.

8. Confidently introduce yourself and respond to introductions.  Introducing yourself is how you make your presence known to others.  At a business cocktail reception, it is important that you take the initiative to always introduce yourself to another person.  Never wait for someone else to introduce you. Introduce yourself with confidence and authority by taking the initiative, walk up to someone, smile, extend your hand, say a greeting and your complete name (which includes your first name and last name) along with something about yourself, such as your job title and where you work. Properly respond to another person’s introduction by acknowledging that it is nice to meet them and repeating that person’s name, then state your’s and something about yourself.

9. Remember names. Listen carefully and pay attention when you meet a new person.  Deliberately take the time for more than an exchange of names.  Use the person’s name in conversation. Use it often. Repetition builds memory.

10. Apply proper business card etiquette.  How you present and use your business card is an important part in building professional relationships. Your business card is part of your visual communications package.  It is also a reflection of your professionalism. Present your business card so that it can be read by the person receiving it and is memorable.  When you receive a business card, pay attention to it and say something nice about it so that it makes the giver feel important and respected.

Making the most of a business cocktail reception does not have to be difficult.  Knowing how to properly work these events can enhance your professional presence and image, thus allowing you to leave a positive first impression upon the people you meet, indicating that doing business with you can be a pleasure! Need to brush up on your professional presence at business/social events? I would love to help! It’s never too late to polish your presence!

To Your Success,

Erin Crotty, Founder & Director, BloomStra Consulting

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