1. Put away your Sales Hat
Take off your "sales hat" when attending a business gala. Let me repeat that: take off your "sales hat". Yes, we are all selling all the time regardless what profession you are in. I'm referring to actually going through your sales pitch and sales process.
The last gala I attended, I was pitched several times. It was unprofessional and the wrong time and place. It's OK to say "hey there's something you may be interested in, is it alright if I call you next week?". Then STOP selling after that and enjoy the evening. Better yet, follow-up after the event with "It was nice seeing you at the gala and wanted to talk to you about something you may be interested in"
Talk about your company, your team and your services when asked. Keep it at a high level and light. If the other person ants to dive deeper into your sales pitch, move the conversation offline away from the others at the table or ask for their card and if you call them next week. Then ask a question to the table to move to another subject. This works very well, shows your professionalism, respect for your guests and the other guests at the table.
2. Don't Dominate the Conversation
Challenging when you have similar people at the same table! One way to help engage others is to ask questions, then stop and actually listen, ask more questions and have them tell their story and open up.
Complimenting the venue, the hosts, sponsors and so forth can spark conversation by others. Again, ask some questions to keep the conversation moving forward. It can be easy and yet we have a natural tendency to jump in and offer our experience or opinion.
Guilty! Working on asking more questions and actively listening to the other person while remembering to not blurt out my thoughts or experience. Ever notice when you bring something up, someone usually tends to share a similar story and seems like a contest starts? Observe it at the next gala and see for yourself how often this happens.
3. All in Moderation
You notice the same person(s) who tends to have a few too many beverages and you also notice the person who tends to eat a whole lot. Have a snack before the event and enjoy the dinner and the conversation.
Regardless of what you like to believe or feel is appropriate, moderation is the key here. Be considerate of others when helping yourself to food and to another adult beverage. Things can get fuzzy and sloppy. Enjoy the good food, people around you and stay in control, focused and professional.
See you at the next business gala!