Seasonal survival guide for the reluctant networker

The invitations to drinks parties have probably been arriving. The office party, perhaps somewhat scaled down, still requires attendance.  You inwardly groan as you envisage awkward silences, pointless small talk and much enforced jollity.

During the parties and family get togethers, you may of course want to avoid talking about work entirely, for fear of being a labelled a workaholic.

But some occasions may provide untold opportunities for those that are prepared. The way I see it is that work-related conversations will usually surface, so best to make the most of it should it arise. (Erm, does that make me a workaholic?)

Drinks parties

Odds on someone you don’t know will ask you The Question. So if you struggle to answer the ubiquitous “What do you do?” in a way that’s clear, concise and interesting, then I have some ideas on this here.

Think carefully how you’ll answer the question, “How’s business?” Have some stories up your sleeve which illustrate the kind of work that you’d like to get more of.

Run through the type of things you’ll want to avoid doing. For example, sitting down and talking to one person all night. Or, for that matter, standing at the nibbles table for the entire evening.

You might meet someone who’s in your line of work that you’d never met before.  You could find an expert who can solve a particular problem you’re having. Or maybe you’re able to help someone else out. So take business cards.

Do, of course, bring scintillating topics of non-work conversation with you.

Office parties

Whether you’re an employer or employee, the combination of copious free alcohol and the watchful eyes of your colleagues can spell Embarrassing Disaster.

That said, it is also the perfect place to impress. The barriers are down and there are opportunities to talk to those hard-to-reach people.  So circulate and socialise, but keep it upbeat and general. Ask about families, children and holidays – information to remember for conversations later down the line. Small details make a big difference.

If things start feeling dangerously fuzzy, call it a night.

Family parties

If you’re a bit bored of charades and are looking for other games to play over Christmas, I have a devised another. It’s a bit like Stick The Tail on the Donkey but without a donkey or blindfold. Let me explain.

Have you ever asked members of your family to describe what you do for a living?

And when I say describe, I don’t mean job titles (which very few people understand anyway) – but to give a kind of scenario that you’d be involved in, or problem that you might solve.  It probably goes without saying but the level of entertainment depends on how clear you’ve been able to describe it in the past.

That said, if the majority of your family seem to be deaf grandparents, drunk uncles and small children, charades may be a better option.

Have a merry mingling Christmas.

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