Party your way into a new job!

2001

As diaries fill up with Christmas parties, it is worth remembering that they can offer a great deal more than a free drink and a mince pie.

Parties an excellent networking opportunity that the career-minded cannot afford to ignore. More than half of UK executives said they had found new jobs through networking, according to career consultancy Drake Beam Morin (DBM).

Sometimes deemed insincere and manipulative, good networking should always be open and truthful. But isn't networking for natural extroverts? If you are not renowned for your chit-chat, how can you cope with small talk?

This advice from Catherine Gilbert, UK Corporate Services Director of DBM, will help you fly through any uncomfortable work-related gathering.

1. Try to relax and enjoy yourself: fun is at the heart of good networking.

2. Smile, make eye contact and use appropriate body language.

3. Ask open questions, use silence, establish common ground and listen.

4. Don't be afraid to make the first move in approaching people- it will make you appear confident and being a wall flower won't get you anywhere.

5. Have a few topics of conversation up your sleeve and make sure that you're up-to-date on current affairs. This way you'll always have something interesting to say and appear well-informed.

6. Avoid old fashioned ice-breakers such as comments about the weather. They automatically imply that you feel uncomfortable

7. Admit that small-talk makes you feel awkward - the chances are those around you will be feeling exactly the same. these could be combined?

8. Choose your topic of conversation carefully. Think about what you say ie slating a former boss or work colleague is not appropriate.

9.Don't spend too much time with one person until you've got round the room. The key is to quickly, amicably and effectively turn over every stone and move on.

10. Make sure you have business cards with you and that you collect those of the people you meet.

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