If you’re from the US (or a country music fan), you might remember that old song by Garth Brooks called “I’ve got friends in low places.” Of course, if you’re on this blog, it’s because you’re awesome and someone who wants to step up their game and win, you care about networking, connecting with others and sharing your abilities. You probably don’t have tons of friends in low places.
There are going to be times when moving up the ladder means that you face discomfort. But how should you act at the dinner party when you never learned which fork to use or you’re an introvert or you don’t know what to wear? Learning how to do the right thing is easy. Here are some easy tips for taking yourself to the next level.
1 – Be friendly to everyone you meet and help others make connections. I was invited to a really fancy cocktail party once and struck up a conversation with a woman who seemed nice. Another friend of hers came up to us but instead of making an introduction she told her friend, “we don’t really know each other, she just walked up to me.” Ok, maybe she was not enjoying our conversation or I rubbed her the wrong way but it still felt quite mean. You will go a lot further by being nice. Hand out your business card, introduce people to each other and have a good attitude.
2 – At dinner? Remember the “outside-in” rule. You’ve just sat down at a nice dinner and you’re not familiar with the place setting. First, put your napkin on your lap. Second, remember the outside-in rule. The silverware farthest from you (i.e the outside) is for the first course and the silverware that is closest to you (inside) is for the next course. Third, don’t order items that are difficult or messy to eat. Learning the proper etiquette is easy and you don’t need to be rich or fancy. I love Emily Post’s Etiquette! There are also a ton of youtube video’s out there. Maybe you could even take a course…or consider finishing school.
Gratitude and openness
3 – Get stationary and say thank you. Your friend has gone through a lot of work to host a dinner party for you and others. Even if you did the right thing and brought a hostess gift and raved about the meal, it is still nice to follow up with a card. Maybe you even consider a chic postcard. It is a great way to be invited back again and again…showing appreciation can never be underestimated. We all know the golden rule i.e. treat others as you want to be treated. Sending something through the mail gives an added touch that shows people you care.
4 – Hold a drink, smile, look around. You’re nervous, shy or don’t know anyone at the party. That’s OK. No one is expecting you to be the perfect socialite. Find a perch, grab a drink, have a soft smile and look around. Don’t stand around with your phone. If you act like you don’t want to connect with other people, you won’t connect with other people. It’s just that simple. Do you see someone else chatting in a group of two? Try to insert yourself. If there are already three or more people in a circle it can get crowded.
Having the right attitude, showing appreciation and making connections is easy if you try to connect with other people and show them that you care.