Business Networking at Holiday Parties: How to Network Like A Pro

career development networking tips Dec 01, 2010
Business networking at holiday parties

Holiday parties present a great opportunity for you to meet people and renew connections. In other words, a great time to network if you do it well.  Remember that the purpose of networking is meeting people, finding out about what they have to offer and what their needs are and to share yours. Avoid selling in any form (pitching a product or service, asking for a job, etc) unless the conversation naturally evolves that way because the person you're talking with has expressed an interest in hearing more at that moment. Be patient and avoid what Ivan Misner, founder of BNI and considered the father of networking, call "premature solicitation".

Remember that the holiday party is a social occasion, not a business meeting, conference, or sales floor. As such, adjust your approach. For example, instead of using an "elevator speech" when asked what you do, use your personal branding statement. Your personal branding statement is, as its name suggests, more personal. It describes something unique and special about you and the people you serve. For example,

I help business leaders manage risk by helping them both measure their risk exposure and include the more broad, non-measurable business context in their decisions.

Also remember that your behavior throughout the party is a reflection on your personal brand, or reputation. When you are aware of your true self and how you want to be known. Some people make a career out of being "a wild and crazy guy" and others on being serious or friendly. Act according. Be careful of how much you drink and what you say.

Remember to follow the most important rule of networking:  Follow up!  Sometime after the party call or send an email to the person you met. Mention something you spoke about. If you have a tip or some information to share include that as well.

Here are a three tips to help you be an expert holiday party networker:

Hold Drinks in Left Hand:

Most people shake hands with their right had. Holding your drink in your left hand allows you to keep your right hand free and available whenever you meet someone. No awkward fumbling to switch hands. No extra chance to spill your drink. If you're having a cold drink, your right hand will stay warm providing a more pleasurable handshaking experience.

Hold Plate of Finger Food in Right Hand, Eat with Left Hand:

Nobody wants to be shaking hands with food all over your hands. In this situation if you meet someone, naturally shift the plate from your clean right hand to left hand to shake hands. Once you're done, shift the plate back to your right hand. The person you're talking with may even notice and appreciate what you just did, especially since many people either shake hands with a dirty hand or start wiping their hands awkwardly on napkins, pants and sleeves.

Put Name Tags on Your Right Side:

Since most people shake hands with their right hand, it is natural for them to look at the right side of your body as they extend their had to you. If your name tag is on your right side, they can easily and naturally see your name tag. If your name tag is on your right side, they have to look away from you and the action to see your name and information on the tag. It might be easier to just slap on a name tag on your left, but make the effort to put in on your right instead. Try it out, you'll see how this small change can make a difference.

Relax and have fun at your holiday party. Feel confident you can have fun and advance your career and business at the same time. Be safe and drink responsibly.

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