Top Tips on How to Successfully Network during the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner and you’re probably getting invited to numerous office holiday parties, social soirées, and neighborhood dinners. Learn to love these events because they provide an invaluable opportunity to connect with your colleagues, meet new people and strengthen your professional network.

So to help you make the most of this holiday season, here are a few tips on what to say and do for holiday-party success:

Before you go

Score Invites. Capitalize on the endless opportunities to socialize. Do a quick search on Meetup, search professional organization’s local chapter sites for events or even volunteer to work on name tags at the front desk. Ask your network, friends and colleagues at other companies if they have the ability to extend a plus-one invite, whether it’s a work-related event or simply a house party. If you’re a bit hesitant about networking, remember the lightness of the season and work the room in a friendly way since people are usually open to it.

Prepare yourself.  

  1. Arrive on time to ensure you’re able to talk to everyone. This way you’re not competing with others for attention or catching someone after one too many cocktails.
  2. Make a conservative fashion statement. Have you ever walked into a meeting and knew instantly by the way someone was impeccably dressed that they were someone to be reckoned with? Go ahead and be that person. Leave an indelible, delightful and polished impression.
  3. Hone your elevator speech.Know what to say at which parties.

What to Say

Talk less, listen more. Remember that referral marketing is all about relationships. Smart networkers focus on asking good questions and genuinely listening. Everyone enjoys talking about themselves and when we ask good questions, you begin to build rapport and establish relationships. you to uncover who might be in a position to help you,” she says.

Don’t just talk work. When you’re at office or holiday parties, it’s fine to have some work-related conversation (and always nice to compliment your co-worker or boss in front of their spouse or partner). But mix things up a bit with a touch of the personal. Ask others questions about their families, hobbies or interests. That’s a nice way to build a good relationship and get to know them better. And you’ll discover new connections and commonalities.

Keep it low-key. A holiday party is first and foremost a social event. So avoid make sure to keep it that way. Holiday parties are the perfect opportunity to establish a connection that provides a context for future contact. This is the initial on-ramp to building a relationship with the person. And if you are nurturing your network properly, you will follow up with them and continue to build the relationship after the holidays.

What to do

Introduce yourself. Parties are a perfect place to meet new people and expand your network. So try to get to know at least two new people at every event you attend this season.

Remember that spouses and children often feel left out at these events, so be sure to chat them up, too. You might be surprised at how interesting — and sometimes helpful — they will to be.

Offer your business card (and ask for one). As discussed before, this is your initial contact and the start of building a new relationship with someone. Make sure you have a way to stay in touch and follow up with key people you meet after the party.

Follow up. You are building a relationship. After the parties are over, get back in touch with the people you met.

Send a simple “great to meet you” message or phone and a personalized invitation to connect on LinkedIn (not the auto-connect version LinkedIn offers). It’s as easy as “I really enjoyed meeting you at such-and-such-event, I’d love to hear more about what you do.” If you find an article or video you think might interest someone you chatted with, send it along with a note referencing your meeting. This only takes a few minutes.

Your new contact will feel valued and appreciated, which will strengthen and expand your network greatly in the long run.

Bring a friend.  A holiday party is the perfect place to renew old relationships and establish new ones. If you know someone in your network who you’d like to introduce at a particular party, go for it! Share the opportunity to help others get connected. Good networking is about seeking opportunities to help others and good karma will flow your way.

Avoid awkward introductions. When you’re introducing others, the most effective method is to not only announce their names but also a little bit about what they do or where they’re from.

Otherwise, you could find yourself in the middle of that uncomfortable silence when two people get to know each other. For example, I’ll say, “Rebecca, I’d like you to meet my friend, Adirenne.  Adirenne is a producer who just shot a new advert in Fiji, and Rebecca is a tax attorney in Melbourne.” This gets the conversation going.

Just go! Yes, I understand, there are often more holiday invites than lights on your Christmas Tree, and some night’s you’d rather stay in watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas. But, make it a priority to show up at these events.

Keep these tips in mind as you socialize during the Holidays and this will surely be the Season that Keeps on Giving.