Heading to a holiday party? Don't be a party foul

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Holiday party season is in full swing. Now you can arrive in style, strut in confidently and leave scandal-free, all the while making new connections.

Communications Strategist Chris Winfield sat down to discuss and the do's and don'ts of proper party behavior. Here are 7 of them:

1. Go into the party asking, "Who can I help?"
This takes away the pressure and sets the right tone. Focus on helping people instead of trying to "fit in" with the crowd.

2. Meet new people.
You aren't going meet new people by staying inside of your comfort zone, so break out of your circle of friends and meet new people. Introduce yourself, shake hands and socialize.

3. Leverage friends & colleagues for "warm" introductions.

Want to get a job or a killer apartment? Get a great referral. Same goes here. If there's someone that you want to be introduced to connect with someone that knows them and get a proper introduction. Any time a mutual acquaintance makes an introduction it is less awkward and the ice is immediately broken because you are leveraging their trust and reputation.

4. Have a great intro ready.
Everyone you meet could be a potential opportunity, so make sure you introduce yourself well. Practice and perfect the art of introducing yourself. Again, clearly and simply. Figuring out your "sound bite" is worth it. It gets that conversational ball rolling!

5. Don't be fashionably late. Instead get there early.
The "early" crowd is smaller so it's easier to start conversations. On the flipside, it can be a challenge to enter conversations already started if you're late.

6. Truly focus on the person you're speaking with.
Make them feel important. Don't let your eyes wander. People can sense if you're looking for someone more interesting to talk to-so even if that's happening to you, you must be polite to your immediate audience. Excuse yourself gracefully, if need be. Always treat everyone with respect and attention.

7. Say a heartfelt "thank you" when you're leaving AND send a follow-up email.
Don't forget that a lot of time, money and effort was spent to put together the holiday party. Make sure to show your appreciation and really thank them (as many times as you can)! Offer a sincere thanks when you leave and then follow-up with a quick note thanking them again and point out one great thing that came from the party or that you enjoyed. This will help you to really stand out. Besides, it's an easy way to get your email signature with full contact information in front of decision-makers.
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