Ah yes, the holidays! A time when common questions include "What do you do? Are you married? Why are you still single? And when are you getting married?"
It's quite funny that through every chapter of your life there are new questions that make us squeamish and dread sitting around the holiday dinner table. It started with "Where are you going to college?" and progressed to "What are you going to major in?" to "What are you going to do when you graduate?" We get it, life is always measured in the next step.
To avoid the drama and dread, we've compiled some tried and tested techniques to make the holidays more enjoyable and perhaps add a little fun into your networking game.
1. Be in control of the conversation
Make sure you are driving the conversation! Everyone loves to talk about themselves; ask questions about your aunt's kids, their move, ask where she was at your age, etc. Bottom line, ask questions and not only will people walk away thinking that they just had the most rewarding conversation, but you'll come off as a more confident person that happens to make the other person forget why they were asking you questions to begin with.
2. Avoid defensive behavior
This is a hard one. It's so easy to resort to snarky retorts when your 3rd cousin twice removed asks you why you're still single and pushing 30. Rather than becoming someone you might later regret, turn it into something playful. "30 is the new 20" or "Still waiting for that one, care to set me up?"
3. Be proud of your accomplishments
So you just switched industries or decided to start your own company. Be proud! People will be interested in what you are doing and don't be too modest not to scream it from the rooftop. You don't know who might be your next investor or point you in the right direction. Sure they might be your parent's country club friends but you never know who they know. Be open minded.
4. Don't dread your high school reunion
You never know who you are going to meet at your 5 or 10 year high school reunion. Forget about the cliques and the way you felt in high school and remember what you have to offer now. You never know if an old lab partner might become your next client, partnership or join your business.
5. Remember they love you
As hard as it is to open up without feeling like clamming up, your parents and your family and family friends are here to help. Share with them your concerns, your needs, and they might find you the solution. On a personal note, I've brought my mom into Six Degrees Society and she has been promoting the networking group to everyone she meets and is the ultimate PR person and couldn't be more excited to help out.