Holiday parties are great! Whether it’s your party, a client’s gathering, association events, or a business networking group, it’s a chance to have fun and get into the spirit of things.
Holiday networking may be a bit different from the usual networking event so here are some quick tips on how to “work the room” Knock Out style while socializing and celebrating. Cheers!
Keep It Light
Probably not the best time to get into heavy conversations about life insurance, the economy, or anything pressing. It is the time to meet new people, get to know colleagues better, and have fun conversations about the good things happening both in and out of work. Keep it light and positive.
Know Who Will Be There
If you can. It’s important to learn about the people that may be rounding out the guest list. Who do you need or want to meet? Who should you reconnect with? Do you need to brush up on people’s names? The more you know, the better you can prepare, and the more confident you will feel.
Business Cards Breed Business
Best to have business cards (even with codes and apps, nothing quite like a business card!). Also, have a couple of throw away pens, index cards (so you can jot down notes), breath mints, and a name badge handy.
Start the Conversation
Try starting a conversation rather than waiting for someone to come over and meet you. This way, you set a nice tone while showcasing your smarts and confidence. If you can help make someone who’s standing alone feel more comfortable, you’re both ahead of the game. “Hello! I’m Michael! Good to see you!” Then ask a question!
Have Questions to Ask
The best way to get a great conversation going is to ask questions. Lots of them! My favorites include, “How would you sum up your year?” “Did you get a chance to do something fun?” “What type of work do you do?” (If you don’t know.) “Any big plans for the holidays?” “What are some of your goals for next year?” “What will you do to make sure you achieve them?”
Prepare an Elevator Speech
An elevator speech is something you should always have top of mind. When someone asks about what you do, be specific and clear. If you can have a prepared (not rehearsed) statement about what you do, your expertise, target market, and an “ask”, you might meet someone that can help you. If you’re not prepared with such a statement, you may never know.
As a next step, reconnect with those you meet with a quick email or personal note on LinkedIn. Whenever you meet someone at an event, this is just the start. If it makes sense, reconnect within the first 24 hours to offer a possible next step. I usually foreshadow the follow up when I’m speaking with them.
The big payoff from networking doesn’t usually happen immediately. It does take time, work, and a “staying in touch” strategy.