Written by: Katrina Lubiano
'Tis the season for end of year celebrations! While the digital world offers us many opportunities to connect with people and companies, there’s nothing like connecting with people face-to-face over great food, wine, and classic Christmas caroles.
Holiday parties are the optimal networking opportunity. Whether you’re looking to grow your business by hiring staff, looking for work, or seeking to advance in your current company, networking is crucial in planning your success in the new year. We want to help you make the most out of your celebrations by sharing some 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 might 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 introduce yourself to two new people and reach out to someone you haven’t connected to in some time. A company Christmas party might be one of your only opportunities to mingle with the CEO or higher-ups. If not that, 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 there and food is always an easy conversation starter. You don’t have to make these events painful, just open your conversations with easy and natural dialogue and remember to have fun.
have a killer elevator pitch
If someone asks you, “what do you do?” Are you prepared to answer this question with one sentence so that they understand what you or your company has to offer? Being able to distill 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 colleague and ask for their constructive feedback.
An elevator pitch is succinct, memorable, and positive. It’s typically about 30 seconds long, equivalent to how long you’re in a lift with someone. The key is to keep it short. Beware of sounding too sales-ey. No one wants to listen to 30 minutes of someone droning on about themselves at a party. After all, everyone’s celebrating, and people just want to have fun, so 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 at a party.
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 great person to network with. Networking isn’t about the quantity of relationships, but the quality.
be proactive around the holidays
Being proactive 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. It can be a 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, or through social media expressing how nice it was to make their acquaintance or how lovely the event was. This 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.