Often your company's success depends on how you represent it at business receptions. Some tips for making your time most productive:
* Come prepared. Sounds simple, yet many business people arrive without business cards.
Be vigilant for business opportunities. Rather than saying a lot about what you do, listen to what others are saying and to needs they might be expressing.
* Prepare your introduction. Adjust your clothing before you get to center stage. What you do unconsciously, everyone sees.
To avoid rushing what you say, pause one second before you begin to talk. Look one person in the eye as you say your name. Speak lower and slower -- lower in pitch to help you project and slower so that people can hear you.
As you introduce yourself and your company, tell the audience what your company does for people. They relate to benefits.
Introduce yourself to people in line and at the table. Sit with people you do not know. Concentrate on having a reasonable conversation with fewer people than a breezy chat with everyone.
Minority job seekers face a serious problem: Most minorities live in the city while jobs are being created in the rapidly expanding suburbs. Even if job discrimination were ended, many minorities wouldn't be able to get jobs because of lack of transportation.
"The continued movement of jobs away from the city, where many African-Americans live, to suburban areas divests our community of desperately needed jobs and business opportunities," James W. Compton, president of the Chicago Urban League, writes in NorthStar News & Analysis, a national African-American news magazine.
But even the most forward- looking companies with aggressive minority-hiring programs are stymied by the lack of mass transportation to link inner-city neighborhoods with outlying areas.
Gary Orfield, professor of political science and education at the University of Chicago, observes that "the fundamental mismatch between burgeoning suburban jobs and concentrated inner-city poverty is a root problem for poor blacks in the city." Mr. Orfield is co-author with Carole Askinaze of "The Closing Door: Conservative Policy and Black Opportunity" (University of Chicago Press, $22.50), which details the deterioration of opportunities for African-Americans in Atlanta in the last decade.
"Nationwide, there is a strong concentration of good, entry-level jobs that pay decently, but they're . . . on the outer edges of the whitest part of suburbia," he said.