Written by: Katrina Lubiano
‘Tis the season for end of year celebrations! While the digital world offers many opportunities to connect, there’s nothing like connecting with people face-to-face over great food, wine, and classic Christmas tunes.
Holiday parties are the optimal networking opportunity. Whether you’re looking to grow your business by hiring staff, job hunting, or seeking to advance at your current company, networking is crucial to planning your success in the new year.
We want to help you make the most out of your celebrations by sharing these best networking practices.
Improve your visibility
First and foremost, show up.
Whether it’s your office Christmas party, a non-profit soiree, or a holiday get together amongst your colleagues, half the battle is committing to these events.
Make the effort to attend the events you’ve been invited to, even if it’s just for a short time because your absence may be noticed and could negatively affect peoples’ perception of you.
Don’t just show up. Be present with intention.
Why are you at the event? Set a goal for yourself to meet to two people and reach out to someone you haven’t connected to in some time.
A company Christmas party might be your only opportunities to mingle with the CEO or higher-ups. If that’s not the case, it’s just a great time to socialise and get to know your colleagues outside of the office.
Introverted? Hang out at my favourite place at a party, the food table.
Everyone eventually makes their way to the food, and it’s an easy conversation starter. You don’t have to make these events painful, just open your conversations natural dialogue and remember to have fun.
Have a killer elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is succinct, memorable, and positive. It’s typically about 30 seconds long, equivalent to how long you’re in a lift. The key is to keep it short.
Distilling what you do in one simple sentence is extremely valuable and helps you understand who you are and why you do what you do.
It might help to run your elevator pitch with a good friend or a colleague, and ask for constructive feedback.
Beware of sounding too sales-ey. No one wants to listen to 30 minutes of someone droning on about themselves at a party—don’t be a bore.
Be a friend
The best way to grow is to serve.
You can do this in many different ways from making someone feel welcomed at a party, to actively listening to someone, and connecting the right people together.
Putting others before yourself actually proves more productive for your personal and professional growth than it is to have a self-serving agenda.
Networking is all about creating and building on relationships and this works in two-way streets.
Making connections for people in your network demonstrates that you are listening and are a valuable person to connect with. Networking isn’t about the quantity of relationships, but the quality.
Be proactive around the holidays
The holidays can be a hectic time, but it keeps you interesting. It might be tempting to get back to your productive self in the new year, but stay on your A-game and get out of your comfort zone!
Don’t be afraid to take on new projects, hobbies, learn new skills, or volunteer around the holidays.
Volunteering is an especially great way to give back to your community and gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded people and expand your network. Volunteer at a local non-profit or your niece’s school Christmas show—just get involved! Time is always a much-appreciated gift.
Always follow up with new contacts or hosts with a telephone call, email, hand-written card, or social media message expressing how nice it was to make their acquaintance or how lovely the event was.
This simple gesture solidifies their image of you from the event and reflects you in a courteous and professional light.
Handwritten notes go a long way. Especially if you have an established relationship with the host or were invited to a gathering at someone’s home.
Handwritten notes are often overlooked but impactful and add that personal gesture of your gratitude.