By Sandy Gough and Jenica Foster

It’s party season! A time to dress up, walk into a room full of strangers and make somewhat forgettable small talk. Or, you could dress up, walk into a room full of friendly communicators and have a great time!

The CPRS & IABC/Calgary Holiday Celebration happens this Thursday, Dec. 6. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, register now. It’s a great opportunity to renew professional relationships and make new connections in a relaxed and festive environment.

To get you started a list of networking tips has been curated to help create genuine connection, something we all crave at a basic human level.

  1. Fly solo

It can be daunting to walk into a full room, especially if you’re alone, but it’s a great way to meet people. Flying solo gives you the incentive to step out of your comfort zone. Since the room will be full of communicators from IABC and CPRS (Canadian Public Relations Society), you’ve already got something in common with everyone you meet.

  1. Be a butterfly

According to Lifehack.org, “People are called social butterflies because they flit around and meet others.” Don’t set up camp in the corner for the evening; move around the room. Chances are you’ll find a colleague, or another butterfly.

  1. Follow the food

If you’ve ever attended an IABC/Calgary event, you know the food is going to be great. Food is a natural gathering place (ever noticed how everyone ends up in the kitchen at a party?) and a legitimate tactic according to Entrepreneur. I thought it was just me. Follow your inner foodie and hang out by the buffet.

  1. Find a topic

Try not to talk about the weather, unless it’s yet another “freak” snowstorm that’s a legitimate topic of conversation in Calgary. Aside from the usual conversation starter – “What do you do?” – try something different.

Here are a few suggestions from 100 Questions to Spark Conversation & Connection: “How long can you go without checking your emails or texts?” “What was your proudest moment from the past twelve months?” Find a few you feel comfortable with and try them out. If they don’t work, you can chat about silly ideas found on the internet.

  1. Spare the cards

Networking at its best is a connection, not a transaction. Don’t feel obligated to give a business card to every partygoer you meet. Save them for people you really connect with: someone who works at a company you’re interested in or someone in a role you’d like to know more about. Or, if you meet a contact you’d like to follow up with, ask for their card instead of handing out your own; that way you’ll have the information you need to follow up.

Now that you’re armed with a few tools for success, head on over to IABC/Calgary’s events page to register for the holiday celebration! Remember, we all have similar fears, but don’t let it stop you from genuine connection.

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