My favorite New Yorker cartoon shows a worried, middle-aged man about to walk into a cocktail party. The thought bubble above his head reads, ‘Yikes! Grown-ups!’
I loathe cocktail parties — and any other gathering that requires dealing with crowds of strangers from a standing position. Nonetheless, these sorts of ‘mingle fests’ are a fact of professional life.
If hosted by your employer, showing up is tacitly understood to be mandatory. (Company holiday party, anyone?) Even if your paycheck has nothing to do with the event, you can often stand to benefit professionally by going: Future clients, referrals, job offers and board invitations can all stem from what’s known as ‘working the crowd.’ Continue reading