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December 2012

Break Out of Your Shell

Business cocktail parties are a great opportunity to break out of your shell, whether you are looking to explore career options, expand your knowledge about a company and its employees, or simply to broaden your network of contacts.

Your focus should not be on the food and on distributing your business cards. Look to make genuine connections with people. Don't miss making a great connection by spending too much time at the buffet. A good starting point would be to have a small meal or snack before heading to the party, so that you are not distracted by hunger while attempting to chat. Still, feel free to accept passed food or to try appetizers, especially if you will be drinking alcohol. Don’t get inebriated though, if it relaxes you a little then great but you could always opt for a non-alcoholic drink.

Below are a few networking tips at a business cocktail;

  • Always have business cards at hand, make sure they are up to date and look professional and have them neatly organized in a card case.
  • Practice being brief and concise describing what you do concisely in just a couple of sentences.
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion: Some networking functions are very formal and others you can get away with more casual. If in doubt, check with the host.
  • Listen more than you talk. Simple as that
  • Do your research ahead of time: Find out in advance who will attend the party, so you already have an idea of who you can connect with and of their position within their company and look for conversation starters with your biggest targets.
  • Avoid the “cocktail cluster”: The key is to meet new people: don't stay on the safe side by talking with colleagues that you already know and are comfortable with. When you meet a new person, introduce them to a friend. The new person will appreciate your generosity and friendliness. If networking really scares you then find a networking “buddy” to attend events with (but DON’T stick with them the whole time)
  • Don’t try to meet everyone: make a simple goal for networking like meeting three new people that you get to know fairly well during the cocktail party. When you attempt to work the room, you can end up being too superficial with your interactions and you won’t leave a lasting memory with anyone.
  • Don’t make the conversation all business; Sometimes it's best not to start with business chat - often, people would rather connect first over neutral and unrelated topics. Don’t push people to help you let them offer their help on their own.
  • Don’t pounce on people and tie them up in a conversation that is all about you and what you do rather than being interested in who they are and what they do.
  • Let your friends talk you up. Also let them drive the conversation towards topics that could help you.
  • Try to exit the conversation in the most non-awkward way possible: show your enthusiasm and gratitude for their taking a few minutes to talk to you and your intentions to follow up on your conversation.

Put your best foot forward, make a great impression by dressing for success, engage in interesting and stimulating conversation, and mind cocktail party dining etiquette.


Education, Careers & Student Success Seminar

"The Key to your Future"

Dates: Monday 10th, Tuesday 11th, Thursday 13th, Friday 14th December 2012
Time: 8:15am to 5:30pm

See attached document for more details


Feedback from recent training

“The training was excellent, relevant and practical. Derek is a fantastic presenter and trainer. For sure anyone who attends any of his training comes out completely transformed, an all-rounded person with a more positive attitude towards life in general. I will definitely make sure more people go through his sessions.” Tina,Bata

“@derekbbanga, As always you do a fantastic job” NSEKenya via twitter


Get in Touch

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Get in touch and let us make it a success

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Find out how Public Image can help at or contact


In this month’s newsletter we focus on networking at a business cocktail which is you are apt to attend at this time of the year. As always I hope you find these tips useful and continue to let us know your thoughts.

With best regards,
Derek Bbanga.


Public Image has a unique approach to building individual and corporate achievement. Business etiquette, creating a positive image though posture and dress, soft skills, communication proficiency, personal branding and networking expertise are key elements in the Public Image approach to developing professional skills.

Projecting a positive image for business will give you an edge in today's competitive market

Your business etiquette questions answered

Q: I just started working at this company. I was using the men’s room when the CEO walked in to use the facilities himself. I wasn’t sure what to do or how to act?

A: The first rule of the men’s room is let others (CEO or no CEO) handle their business in peace. The men’s room ideally should be a place of respite from the madding world outside of the office. So avoid lengthy conversations on the sales meeting figures or the colour of Dan’s new tie. A cursory nod, acknowledgement or brief greeting will suffice. You should let the CEO finish his pit stop and say a quick good morning while you are both washing hands. You do wash your hands afterwards don’t you!

Q: Derek, I am going for a business meeting with a potential client at a Chinese restaurant and I have no idea how to use chops sticks. Help!

A: Don’t panic, even though they do say when in Rome do as the Romans do. Most Chinese restaurants will give you conventional silverware to use and it’s better to stick with what you know than to struggle picking one grain of rice at a time. Do yourself a favour however and practice on your own and impress your client next time with your chop stick dexterity.

Q: Hi, I am a senior manager for this multinational company and the bosses from the head office in Europe were visiting. In the process of hugging and pecking as I was greeting them, my lipstick rubbed off on the Vice President’s collar just before he was going in to the meeting. I was mortified – what should I have done? Anne

A: Well, in the first place I would have avoided kissing as a way of greeting. The approved skin on skin contact in a professional setting is the handshake. If you know that Hans will insist on pecks then prepare in advance and either don’t wear lipstick that day or blot it off before you meet him. Either that or hang out with society types and learn the art of air kissing. Lipstick is made up of pigments, oils, waxes, and emollients meaning it is infernally difficult to remove without resorting to removing the shirt and washing it or using other products. This I presume being impossible under the circumstances, I would have apologised profusely to Hans and made arrangements then and there to buy or procure him another shirt.


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