Network, network, network--it's the mantra of the New Economy. And no one schmoozes quite so deftly as Kenneth P. Morse, managing director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Entrepreneurship Center and a lecturer on "cocktail party management."
How should you prepare for a shindig? Practice, says Morse. Learn to start sentences without using "I." Don't make statements--ask questions. Get there early so you can find out who's coming. Stand under a light so people can see you, and help pass food out to your group; Morse says this makes you a "facilitator."
Not even a juggler can shake hands, balance a drink, and pass out cards at the same time. So make sure there's a place to set your drink down nearby. Have cards where you can get to them easily.
If you do get 10 seconds to impress a potential investor, Morse says to make sure that your pitch shows your company solves a problem. Downplay your product and technology.
And don't hog the shrimp.