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The Knack

How To Be The Giddy Heartbeat Of Every Party

From a grand entrance to your parting move – Mr Raven Smith’s 11 ways to make your personal brand shine

To the untrained eye, a party is a vehicle for fun with free drinks and the potential to snog someone hotter than your ex. But a party is actually an extended theatrical presentation that you perform to an audience of peers, so that they might judge the hell out of you. It’s a talent showcase.

Forrest Gump’s mother was kind of right: life is like a box of chocolates, if each chocolate is out for himself and is the director of his own individual marketing campaign. Your personality and the alchemy of your tastes is the ace in your deck.

Attending a party, then, is an invaluable opportunity to extend the reach of your personal brand. What one chooses to transmit at these events is edited in line with the picture we’re painting, a sort of self-branding exercise that informs our approach to almost everything: what we wear, who we see, where we vacation in summer.

Personal brands are a form of self-mythology – you’re a mystery, a mirage – but, like Joseph’s amazing technicolour dreamcoat, you draw attention while hiding the real you. The objective is simple: growth of following. Above all, a cult needs followers. And a party is access to potential disciples, like wild steeds ready to be lassoed into your belief system. Saddle up. 

01. Make an entrance

There’s no point waltzing into an empty room. Always be an hour late. Don’t apologise. Shine bright like a diamond and showcase the proverbial razzle. Wear something to catch the light – satin will do. Eclectic boots. A mohair suit. All these things are party-friendly (assuming it’s not your boss’ retirement shindig).

02. Now make an impression

There’s one thing you need to be at a party: unmissable. Everyone is jostling for attention and you need to cut through. Try something unusual, say something original, mimic the tricks of the late magician Mr Paul Daniels, just do something. These are things that keep people talking about you long after the lights go on and the music dies.

03. Introductions matter

You need to maximise the first interaction to make sure you’re remembered. Hold a handshake or eye contact a beat too long. Stage whisper “stunning” to yourself in earshot. You want to have an eerie-but-familiar quality, like in time-travelling films when they’ve accidentally changed the present, but they don’t know how yet.

04. Fake it till you make it

Mention a country pad or summering in Deià and the jet set in attendance will flock towards you like paperclips to a magnet. Like the horses they ride, grooming and breeding are pillars of the rich. Calling well-heeled people tasteful, or aesthetes, is their catnip. When speaking up the financial ladder, go for glamorously aloof – add tactical rollnecks as required.

05. Perfect small talk

People would rather bite into a scented candle than listen to an anecdote about your dream, or your day at work, so be the Rocky of banter and keep the small talk punchy. Lay in a few rounds of chat cardio with each person. Overegg every anecdote. Liberally colour every tale. Keep your stories exaggerated, but true – or you’ll only catch yourself out.

06. Be enticing

It was easier to charm the socks off people before iPhones. Caffeine and infinite scrolling have given people the attention span of gnats. Midway through the party, you think you have the room eating out the palm of your hand, but you’re a single news alert away from being forgotten. Rather than laying it on too thick, you want to lightly tickle your audience like a spritz of Evian facial spray. Keep the conversation light and sweet.

07. Know how to self-promote

In order to win at self-promotion, force any sense of self-deprecation deep down inside you like metamorphic rock. Let it calcify in your stomach. Your job is to continually signal your greatness, foam-fingering your brilliance like a Knicks fan at a ballgame. At the same time you’re chatting, pretend you’re too important to chat – your phone’s going crazy in your pocket with urgent texts. The room you’re working is a Mr MC Escher sketch, a never-ending cascade of self-promotion that’s constantly pouring back into itself.

08. Leave a legacy

We all want people to swim in the reservoir of our own personalities, bask in our depths, changed by the interaction. But how do you chisel your name into the stone tablets of people’s minds, or rise to the top like nepotistic offspring? Get under peoples’ skin invisibly like expensive plastic surgery. Soirees in the city are a playground for bright young things. Never dilute, nor temper. Crop-spray other guests with pure charm – and do so right at the end, so people remember you for that.

09. Be everywhere, online and IRL

You want to be everywhere like the air, but you don’t want to be exhaled and forgotten. Social media and actually physically socialising are both key: the yin and yang of modern life. After a tough night of appearing both mysterious and moreish, you need to be bracingly confessional online, sharing the minute details of your life. Emotional outpourings galvanise people to you.

10. Have the breakdown off-stage

Finally, all of this hard networking should be happening behind the scenes. Sweating and fretting and existential questioning must be internalised. Like the smooth surface of a sausage, party-goers should see you as calm and collected despite your innards being stuffed with glistening, overworked contemplations. Save the meltdown for when you get back to the bedsit.


Be ready to do it all again

A rigorous post-party skincare regime should iron out all your wrinkles. (Sometimes, we’re only a sheet mask away from a full burnout.) The city never sleeps, but you need to look like you get eight to 10 hours a night, so bulk-buy those moist stickettes for eye bags. Ageing-wise, sleeping in a Tupperware box is preferable.

The party line

  • Tom Dixon Tank Striped Whisky Set

  • L'Atelier du Vin Wine Tool Set and Rack

  • Soho Home Barwell Set of Six Cut Crystal Rocks Glasses

  • Lorenzi Milano Glass, Silver-Tone and Mother-of-Pearl Champagne Bucket

  • Linley Trafalgar Crystal Martini Glass

  • Linley Fish-Etched Crystal Red Wine Glass