Tips to Fill Your Holiday Networking with Cheer
The holiday season brings with it a host of events, holiday parties, and receptions. Even if you’re the type that typically avoids socializing, it’s inevitable that you will find yourself at a holiday networking event, whether it’s your company party, your kids’ school event, or even friends and family gatherings.
Networking at the end of the year has some big advantages – people are more festive and friendlier and companies are beginning to think about where they will spend their budgets in the new year. Not to mention, it’s a great time to catch up with people you haven’t seen or connected with in a while to continue building relationships with both your personal and professional contacts.
Ready or not, it’s time to dive into holiday networking. Keep in mind these survival tips to connect and reconnect with all the important people in your life during all your events:
Tips for Professional Holiday Gatherings
- Get out there! It’s probably not realistic to attend ALL the holiday events that are filling up you’re scheduled, but attending office parties and holiday networking events will help you meet new people and make new connections that, with a little work, can blossom into a great new business partnership. If it makes it easier, don’t look at it as networking. View events and business meetings as relationship building opportunities.
- Reach out any way you can. You can only attend so many events throughout the season and catch up with so many people, so make sure to connect with those people you weren’t able to meet with in person. Send a holiday card, letter, email, or newsletter to let the people in your network know that you are thinking about them.
- Be prepared. Attend any event armed with an elevator pitch about yourself and your company when you either meet new people or catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a while. Make sure to have some great conversation starters up your sleeve in case you get stuck not knowing what to say next. Need some suggestions? Check out these conversation starters that always work.
- Bring a wing-person. It’s always more comfortable to attend an event with someone you know so you have someone to fall back on if you need a break. That being said, make sure that you both are willing to go your separate ways and chat with people – don’t end up only chatting with each other for the whole event.
- Have fun (but not too much fun). Holiday parties are definitely about having fun and letting loose, so don’t be afraid to have a good time. Dress for the event and for the crowd that will be in attendance and always act professionally – it’s always a good idea to err on the safe side.
- Make it about others. Be curious and show an interest in whoever you meet. When you connect with someone, make sure to listen to what they have to say so you can use it to follow up with them later. People love to share about their work and lives, so you will make a better connection and you will learn about what is important to them. When you give your full attention, people will feel special and you will make a better connection with them.
- Don’t forget to touch base after. Solidify the connection by follow up with everyone you meet and connect with at your holiday events. (May we be so bold to suggest using Convey to connect so you always have their up-to-date information?) Send a note to the event host, send an email to your new contact, or just reach out and call up one of your old business connections to catch up. Whether you make plans to meet up or just send a note to say hi, you’re nurturing the connection to create a stronger relationship.
Bonus Tips for Personal Events!
- A quick stop is better than a no-show. The holidays are filled with many event invitations and it’s are to attend all of them. That being said, it’s better to show and catch up for a short amount of time than to not show up at all.
- Be bold. Don’t be afraid to make “the ask” – call your friend or family member to meet up for coffee or schedule a time for a catch-up phone call. If they’re busy, that’s ok – you can always meet after the holidays, but even just reaching out will lead you to a stronger relationship.
- Reach out and help others. The holidays are a great time to look to the community for opportunities to give back and volunteer. See if your office is participating in any community volunteering events or gather a group of friends and family and pick a day to volunteer together.
- Plan a shared experience. Meeting up with an old friend doesn’t have to just be a sit-down dinner or coffee date. You can multi-task your gathering – ask a friend to join you when you attend that holiday craft show or see if someone wants to take a brisk walk to check out the Christmas light display downtown.
- Know when to bring a gift. If you’re invited to someone’s home for an event during the holidays, it’s customary to bring a gift for the host/hostess. Wine or sweets are always a good idea, or you can bring a small token or flowers to stand out from the crowd.
The holidays are a golden opportunity to connect with others on a smaller, more intimate level to begin to grow relationships with them. Remember, you never know where your networking may take you personally or professionally, so it is always worth taking the time to foster the relationships that you’ve formed. Above all, make sure to have fun, connect with people, and have a happy holiday!