It’s that time… awkward office parties, plus ones and bad karaoke at the annual holiday party. Whether you’re the boss, part of a team or someone’s date – parties can be a great self-marketing tool! Networking the holiday party requires a little extra finesse though. It’s not a regular networking event, and people are typically celebrating, so knowing how to make the best of both opportunities is key. After all, you want to be remembered for your awesomeness, not your liquid courage fueled dance moves!
You should know the first thing I’m going to tell you: PLAN ahead of time. Never stumble in blind to a holiday party you’ve had time to plan for! Here’s what you need to plan for:
- Know who will be there! Is it a private office-only holiday party? Or will donors, board members, politicians, and clients be there? This will help you in planning number 2 below. If it’s just a private office party, great! Make sure your colleagues can put your face with your email signature!
- Arrange to sit next to someone who can help you meet people you need to get face time with. Whatever it is you’re after in your long-term plan for life, this is your moment to make a critical connection with someone and what better way than to have a little help from your friends.
- Do you know how to introduce yourself? It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Can you pitch who you are and what you do and why it matters in 30 seconds? If you can’t talk passionately about your story in 30 seconds, then you can’t sell it to someone else! And yes, this counts for family holiday gatherings. You never know who your Uncle Bob and Aunt Alice know, so leverage your built-in network!
- Feeling shy? I get it. It’s been a long day and you’ve already seen these people for 40+ hours this week, right? Set a goal to meet at least 3 new people before you call it a night! Better yet, have a wingman (like in step 2) – someone who can introduce you and help you get past your hesitation.
- Introduce others as part of your own networking. You know what makes people feel great? When you care enough about their goals (and not just your own!) to make connections for them with people that can help them achieve more as well.
When you meet your new connections at the holiday party, come with some questions and small talk. Networking a holiday party should be an activity and not a chore, so enjoy yourself. Don’t talk about the weather – go deeper and more interesting! Ask about family, unusual holiday plans or traditions, what the highlight of their year was, or a favorite holiday memory. Maybe ask who they know at the event and if they’ll introduce you!
Come ready to ask someone for advice; ready to tell someone how much you respect their work; ready to ask someone for help; ready to introduce someone else; ready to pitch your thoughts. Finally, it’s all about the follow-up. Make sure you walk away with at least one thing to follow-up with each person you met AND your host! Maybe it’s an appointment, maybe a LinkedIn connection, a lunch, or an introduction. That’s how to network your holiday parties like a boss!