MAY 10TH, 2018
by Michael Pelosi, Founder & President HKUST MBA Sales Club
On May 10th, 2018 the Sales Club hosted a Sake night at Sake Bar GINN “地酒処 吟”, which is one of first sake bars in Hong Kong specializing in premium sake. Our special guest for the evening was HKUST MBA alumnus Raymond Lin, Head of Relationship Management, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan at LinkedIn. 25 HKUST MBA students and Raymond enjoyed a night of food, conversation, and of course Sake, with a formal tasting led by Ayuchi Momose, also known as the Saki Sensei.
The primary purpose of the evening was to learn from Raymond some of the do's and don'ts when it comes to socializing in a business setting, either with colleagues, clients, or at networking events, etc. Here is a quick list of the top 4 do's and top 4 don'ts when attending social functions in a professional environment.
1. Be yourself. A lot of people will try to pretend to be someone they are not in order to try to make a more impactful impression. This almost always backfires as it can easily come off as trying too hard and not being authentic. In addition, it sets a misleading precedent in terms of what you're really like as a person, making future encounters with the individual/s awkward and inconsistent.
2. Make an effort. It is easy to be in a social setting (especially at a networking event) and stick to yourself and not engage with other individuals in the room. It's important to make an effort to talk to people and make the most of the event. This will ensure you not only get the most out of the function, but have fun as well.
3. Ask questions. The best way to break the ice, get to know someone, and make a good impressions is by asking questions. Lots and lots of questions. This will not only provide you with great insight into who the individual really is as a person, but will also make you standout as inquisitive and caring, resulting in you leaving a far more positive impression on the guests at the event.
4. Listen. Asking questions is one thing, actively listening to their response is something else. The classic example of this is when you ask someone their name, and almost immediately forget it a few minutes later. This occurs because we are not trying hard enough to be active listeners. If you can consciously remind yourself to actively listen to others, you'll find you retain far more information while at the same time make the person you're speaking to feel like the center of the universe, which is a wonderful thing!
1. Don't be the shepherd, be the sheep. What we mean by this is don't dictate the tone of the night, always let your guests, clients, partners, etc., take that honor. This will help ensure that you don't set a misguided tone for the evening and will prevent any guests from feeling uncomfortable. For example, if you're hosting a dinner with clients, let them be the ones who order shots of tequila at the end of night. If they have made it clear that they want to continue the evening by drinking shots, then it's appropriate to follow suit (always drinking responsibly of course). On the flip side, if you are the one to take this initiative, you could make your clients uncomfortable, as they might now feel pressured to partake in the after dinner drinking activities, even though they may not want to.
The exception to this rule is if you know the other party well and understand that they like to rely on you to set the tone for the evening.
2. Don't talk about yourself. People are hardwired to want to talk about themselves, so it's particularly easy to fall into this trap, don't do it! People will ask you questions, about what you do, where your from, etc., always try to answer in a succinct and eloquent manner. Respond with to-the-point power punches, not long, detailed, and rambling light jabs. The goal is to answer the persons question and then get them to talk about themselves. If you find at any point of an event/social outing that you've been talking about yourself a lot, try to stop by asking other people questions and getting them to talk about themselves.
3. Don't ask for something. It will be tempting to ask for a job interview, an introduction, or anything else that you think a person may be able to help you with. Make sure to refrain. Build a relationship with the person, offer them something first (a piece of knowledge, a recommendation, an introduction, etc.). When socializing in a professional setting you don't want the other person to feel like you're only engaging with them to get something from them. Before you take, give.
4. Don't treat the social event like work. If you put pressure on yourself and make the social event work, it will feel like work, not only to you but also to the people you're interacting with. Make your best effort to relax and enjoy the event, it will not only make have a better time, but it will make you better company to everyone else.