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14 Overlooked Holiday Networking Tips
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” — JRR Tolkien
It might be tough out there, but Tis STILL the season for CONNECTING.
The holiday season can be a slow time for “business” but it can also be a busy time for “business relationship building.”
The holidays offer a great, easy and natural reason to re-connect with people we don’t regularly see or communicate with. So besides attending holiday gatherings, it is a wise investment of time to start phoning, mailing and emailing our Season’s Greetings and our Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah Wishes.
Now, as we know, every event offers networking opportunities and that includes holiday gatherings. In fact, holiday gatherings offer ideal opportunities to network because of their relaxed settings and built in conversations starters – holiday shopping, food, family holiday travel, etc.
Holiday gatherings are all around, we can’t make them all. We must be selective and careful not to overextend ourselves. However we can’t connect if we don’t go.
Here are 14 Overlooked Holiday Networking Tips
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #1
Arrive on Time and Ready to Help.
Be sure to offer the host/hostess your assistance. Volunteering at any event heightens the opportunities of connecting.
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #2
When Talking with Friends, Open Up.
Stand (somewhat) side-by-side and converse rather than standing face-to-face. This make us still approachable to others and does not close us off to others desiring to connect.
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #3
Carry Pen and Paper as well as Business Cards.
We need to be able to reconnect with folks and they might not to have thought about bringing cards.
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #4
Focus on Quality of the Conversation Not Quantity of Contacts.
Better to have a half dozen meaningful conversations that lead to progress than forty meaningless ones that don’t.
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #5
Branch Out (at some point)
Sure it is fun and comfortable to hang with your good old friends but there are new priceless business relationships to make out there also.
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #6
Get an Introduction to the Person You Want to Meet.
An introduction is an implied endorsement. Try to get introduced by the hostess/host or the most respected person at the event with whom you have a relationship.
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #7
Carry /Use Breath Mints or Those Dissolving Strip Things (not gum).
Sure you want to try the garlic artichoke dip but halitosis is bad for business. Good breath is a must. And as for gum, smacking anything at a networking function is discouraged.
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #8
Careful of the Eggnog (and Miller Lite and Merlot)
Many holiday gatherings serve alcohol. I encourage you to consider not drinking at these events, or at least know your alcohol limit and not get anywhere close to it. Sure you want to be remembered, but not as the loud jerk who couldn’t hold his liquor and spilt red wine on Judge Jacob’s Hanukkah sweater.
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #9
Look for People Standing Alone.
These folks may be nervous, and your initiative will often endear you to them. Plus, one-on-one networking is the best networking. It is hard to join a group unless invited.
A CODE Tip on Joining a Group –
Look for someone you know who is chatting with a couple of people you do not know. Approach the group and stand to the side within view of the person you know. This serves as a subtle cue for your contact to introduce you to the group and bring you into the conversation. Try it. It works. If someone invites you to join the group but forgets to introduce you, take the initiative and introduce yourself.
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #10
Hang a While at the Food Table.
I know it sounds like I’m joking, but people tend to be easily accessible around food. Stand near the food table, but not the bar. People tend to grab their drinks and move away from the bar, but are more likely to linger near the grub.
As people check out the buffet table, small talk comes more easily. “That fruitcake looks good…” is as good an opener as any. Once they have their hands full, people often look for a flat surface where they can place their plate and beverage. Take a spot next to them and get to chatting.
Check this out — Our endorphin levels are higher when we are close to food, which boosts our memory and the chance that we will remember and be remembered. We humans are a trip, aren’t we?
Do not go to these Holiday parties too hungry. Consider eating something before you go so you can focus on the person, not the cranberry cheese spreed. If you are hungry at the event, grab a quick bite off to the side, and then mingle. Do not talk with your mouth full. (I hope I didn’t need to write that.)
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #11
Bond With the Spouses and Significant Others of the Influential.
The influence and power wielded by spouses and significant others is grossly underestimated. And because of this, they often go ignored. When offered the chance at a holiday function, invest the time to make a solid connection with them. Get to know them as people, and after the event they are likely to speak well of you to you know who.
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #12
Do NOT Try to do Major Business Deals (save that for later).
Keep business out of it. It’s the holidays, and people don’t want to be sold to. Make it about getting to know others and not about you or your business. Do not rush new relationships; think LONG TERM. Do not SELL! It is a mind-set. Be subtle. The worst thing you could do is try to start selling someone at a holiday party!
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #13
Catch That Name.
We say we forget names. But I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think we really hear the name of the person when we meet them. We are not listening. We are more focused on what we’re about to say.
The other person’s name is way important to them, probably about as important as yours is to you. To make a great first impression, make a point of catching and tossing around the person’s name in conversation. This is almost impossible when we are preoccupied with the red and green decorations or what we are going to do or say next to be impressive.
The Name Game
1. Right before you meet new people, PREPARE to CATCH their name.
2. Toss their name back in your first or second response.
3. Mention their name naturally throughout the conversation (but do not overdo it).
4. Repeat their name when parting.
If you do not catch it, ask them to repeat it rather than letting it go. Do not be embarrassed to ask (they probably did not catch your name either). Read others’ nametags. That’s what they’re there for.
Again, your new contact’s name is the ultimate word to use in order to make a solid first impression. Using the person’s name in a natural manner throughout the conversation is an easy and organic way to create a memorable link between yourself and your new contact.
Overlooked Holiday Networking Tip #14