This time of year is cause for celebration. With many companies hosting parties for friends, employees and guests, it is an opportune time to meet new people. These parties often have guests from all walks of life, who you never would have met if not for the holiday party. So, go to as many of them as possible from your business association events to a friends holiday party, where there are people you will meet that can benefit you and your career.
Networking at these parties is an art. You need to make the most of your time while you are there and not stay too long, or drink too much! If you follow the following tips you are sure to make some exciting new connections for 2013.
Here are my Top Tips:
- Arrive right at the start time of these events. This is not a time to be “fashionably late.” It will give you an opportunity to get settled and to scope out the room before many of the guests arrive.
- Drink water as your first drink, until you have made your rounds. Also hold off on the salmon and crab cakes, until you have worked the room. There’s nothing worse than having a piece of parsley hanging off your lip when you meet someone new or bad breath from the garlic dish. You also want to be sober when you meet new people, so hold off on the wine or martinis.
- Always find the host of the party when you first arrive. It is an excellent time to have conversation with them before they become too busy with other guests. You can make your exit then without saying good-bye because you have already connected with the host.
- Scout the room for someone you know first before talking to strangers. They will typically be talking to someone you may not know and will bring you into the conversation.
- Step back and seek out people to talk to who are by themselves. They are more than willing to talk, unless they like being by themselves, if so say hello and walk away and find someone else.
- Prior to the holiday party attempt to get a list of people who are attending the event and make a point of meeting at least a few of them you don’t know, but who you may have common interest with.
- When you are speaking with a person make sure to just focus on them for the time you are talking. Don’t be racing ahead and checking out all the other people in the room you want to talk to. One sincere conversation is more effective then ten ill-focused bouts of dialog.
- Remember to bring your calling cards. Keep them in your pocket, so it is easy to exchange contact information without fumbling around.
- Follow up the next day with the people you met and want to make contact with. We all have cards from people we have met that we forgot why we took their card in the first place. If you forgot who they are, they will certainly forget who you are, so spend time the morning after the event to reach out to these people.
- Be yourself and be prepared to tell someone what you do in a few sentences.
Holiday parties are often no more than a couple of hours. Make the best use of your time. Meet the people you want to and leave. Remember that making one great connection is better than just collecting cards.