December is here and the holidays are just around the corner! Most likely you’ll be invited to a neighborhood, office, family or friend holiday party. Whether you’re a social butterfly or a scrooge when it comes to mingling, these type of social interactions can be great for meeting new people, connecting with others and networking. Here are some tips to help you ease into the social scene.
Holiday parties can be with people you know well or with people you’ve just met. If you’re meeting new people you want to ask context-based questions. For example:
· What’s your name?
· Where are you from?
· How do you know [the host or hostess]?
· Do you live or work here in the [name of place]?
· How long have you lived here for?
· How do you know each other? (if two people arrive together)
Making small talk (aka informal conversation)
Almost everyone has found themselves in a situation at a party where they’re standing alone or there’s a pause in the conversation. You can start or continue a conversation by discussing neutral, universal topics in order to “break the ice” at a party. Here are some ideas for what you can talk about to start chatting with someone new or avoid awkward silence:
· Ask about their day or week
o How’s your day been going so far?
o What have you been up to today/this week?
o Did you just get off work before you came to the party?
o The weather has been great lately, hasn’t it?
o It’s been weird how much rain we’ve been getting lately.
o Is the weather here similar to where you grew up/used to live?
o What do you like to do in your free time?
o What sort of hobbies do you have?
o What do you do for fun when you’re not working
o Have you seen [name of show or movie] on Netflix yet?
o I went to a move last week called [movie name]. It was really good! Have you watched it?
o Are you a fan of [name of famous singer or actor]
o Give a compliment (I really like your shoes or that’s a good looking sweater)
o Did you see that they remodeled their kitchen?
o These cookies are delicious! Have you had one yet?
With networking, it’s important to focus on asking good questions and being a good listener. Some questions you can start out with to find out more about someone, their job and/or their connections are:
· How did you hear about this event?
· What do you do?
· What do you like the most about your job?
· Are you facing any big challenges at work right now?
· Do you have any big future plans?
· What kind of education/training do you have?
· Do you have any recommendations for me for getting into the _______ fields?
· I’m looking for a job in __________ and I heard you work in ________. Do you have any advice to help my job search?
It’s happened to all of us. You’re at a social gathering and someone says something you don’t understand. This is even more common if English is your second language. So, how do you politely ask for clarification? Rather than using commands or asking a question in a direct manner that may appear abrasive, you can soften your questions by using “would” and “could” Here are some starters:
· Could you please repeat that again?
· Would you mind repeating that for me?
· Could you tell me what you meant by (misunderstood word)?
· Sorry to interrupt, but I didn’t catch that. Could you say that one more time please?
Whether you’re having a blast and don’t want to go home or you’re extremely bored and can’t wait to leave, every party has to come to an end at some time. When it comes to leaving a social scene it’s important to exit on a good note. Here are some common good-bye phrases:
· It’s been nice talking to you.
· Thanks for telling me about ____________. It was really interesting.
· You have some real travel stories. I can’t wait to hear more next time we see each other!
· Thanks for having me/us. See you next time/next week/soon.
· I hope you have a good rest of your night.
· Take care/Talk to you soon/Keep in touch/We’ll be in touch.
Written by: Monica Jones