‘Tis the Season for Holiday Networking
If networking during seasonal festivities seems like a holiday party faux pas, reconsider how you’re making new contacts for the New Year. With all the client events, association gatherings, family visits and cocktail parties, the winter season provides some of the best networking opportunities of the entire year!
Before you hit the party circuit, check these tips and make a plan for every occasion:
The Office Holiday Party
Your office party may seem like a time to relax and zone out, but this really is a networking goldmine. Take the opportunity to connect with someone that you’ll need to work closely with in the coming year, or someone you’re hoping to collaborate with on an upcoming project.
Don’t be afraid to bypass the business conversation and focus on a personal relationship. The goal is to gain future access by building a relationship now. When you think you’ve made a connection, casually mention that you’d love to discuss more in the New Year.
Your Community Fundraiser or Industry Association Event
Whether the affair is a gala, holiday luncheon or volunteer event, the goal is to act as a shining ambassador for your organization. Make your company memorable to all those you interact with — board members, donors or other volunteers.
Eye a client or partner on the guest list that you’ve been dying to connect with. Some great conversation starters include travel plans, holiday traditions and seasonal entertainment in the area. Ease into the conversation with these light topics, but come prepared to also share examples of how your organization is growing, diversifying or leading the way in the industry. Also important is to keep a good pulse on your new friend’s interest level. Switch to lighter topics if he doesn’t seem interested, rather than pushing for a follow-up meeting.
Family Dinners and Cocktail Parties
Why should you talk to your cousin’s new girlfriend or your visiting uncle about your work? Because your family is often the strongest part of your network. Their friends and colleagues might be just the contacts you need to land the next client or fill a vacant position in your office.
Introduce yourself to the new faces around the dinner table and ask how they know the host. Family gatherings are a non-intrusive way to make connections by simply talking to someone new.
No Events to Attend?
Even if your network isn’t available for get-togethers during the holiday season, there are several ways to make a positive impression. Send out professional holiday cards or personalized letters. If you know who you want to meet, don’t be afraid to ask your friends, relatives or colleagues for warm introductions. Then, send hand-written thank you notes to let them know what a wonderful opportunity they shared.
Make the most of your holiday season and take advantage of everything from the neighborhood open house to family gatherings. Build a solid network this season and make real connections that will extend into the New Year!