For me, holiday networking is a bit easier because it’s both energized and relaxed. Like holiday light displays, there’s a practical core: light the longest nights of year—build the network. But—pun alert–there’s fun in the function: those glowing colors and twinkling patterns distract me from the cold, dark walk from the office to the T station.
At year end, my professional and personal lives tend to sync around the same activities. To be sure, I’m reviewing and planning, but human interaction is priority one. Like holiday lights easing the chill with cheer, I find career development easier when my professional life is not my top priority.
- Planning some small talk can make conversation easier and more genuine
While you should absolutely have your elevator pitch ready and business cards in your pocket, consider a preparing some ‘soft’ starters. Put a little thought into four or five open-ended questions that avoid the tired standards like the weather, local sports or the commute. You’re not scripting dialogue for Showtime. You don’t need to shock and awe. It can be as simple as asking how someone’s day was, how they’re connected to the host organization or how they got started in their field.
- Relax and enjoy the spirit of the season by giving
Focusing on how you can be of service to others is a great way to reduce that ‘special’ stress that many of us experience at hybrid social-professional events. Directing all your energy towards active listening, making someone feel truly heard by giving them 100% of your attention, is a sure-fire way to make yourself memorable. Ahem, introverts, this is your power play.
- Make graceful transitions
It’s a meet-people—plural—event, not a date. You don’t want to monopolize one person’s time and you don’t want to limit yourself either. Be polite but direct, and explain that you are going to say hello to another colleague.
- Personally thank your host
Your host and/or event sponsor(s) put a lot of effort and expense into the event. Thank them personally before you leave. Sending an email thank you note the next day can also be an excellent way to get your contact information in front of influential people.
- Send follow-up emails
Effective holiday party networking really doesn’t finish until the day after the party. Send short, friendly follow-up emails or reach out on LinkedIn to make those new connections stick.
Join WESTorg and our event sponsor Cooley for a Holiday Cocktail Party on December 11th in Boston. This event will sell out, so reserve your spot soon.