It is that time of the year again where holiday parties are in HIGH GEAR. There are generally two types of people when it comes to holiday parties. Those that dread getting together and mingling with people they don’t know (aka introverts), and those that prioritize their holiday-party tour based on food selection and outfits (aka extroverts).
There is definitely more to holiday parties than food comas and the best-dressed list....they can be networking goldmines! As an entrepreneur and leaders in your company, you need to take advantage of every opportunity to network and grow your network. Use these tips to help turn your holiday-party tour into priceless networking that results in new contacts and business opportunities.
1. Enter these parties/events with a positive attitude
"Who can I help?" should be your thought entering into the room. Walk in with a smile and act excited to be able to offer people assistance. No one wants to be around a party-pooper and no one will want to do any sort of business with you!
2. Arrive with goals in mind
Does it make sense for you to attend the event? If two events are scheduled for the same time, pick one and use it well. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Figure out who will be attending events to evaluate how they can fulfill your personal or professional goals. Make sure attending serves a purpose for you—even if it's just to have fun.
One example might be to establish three connections that can develop into business relationships. Go in with a goal and work the crowd until you meet and exceed that goal - have fun with it!
3. Go with a crew, but break away
It never fails...at every holiday party there are always cliques of people that know each other. I always recommend going with someone (especially if you are an introvert), so you at least have one person you like!
BUT....you aren’t going to network and meet new people by staying in your comfort zone. So break out of your bubble and meet new people. Introduce yourself, shake hands and socialize - just don't be a human business card dispenser.
4. Focus on who you are speaking with
This is a HUGE one. Don’t let your eyes wander. Give 100% of your attention to the person with whom you're speaking. People can sense if you're looking for someone more interesting to talk to—so even if that's happening to you, you must be polite to your immediate audience. Excuse yourself gracefully, if need be. Always treat everyone with respect and attention - each person deserves it.
5. Say thank you and always follow-up
Holiday party hosts spend a lot of time and money to put on these events, but the majority of guests arrive only to eat, drink, mingle and then leave without even the simplest "thank you". Use this as an opportunity to stand out and make a new connection.
I recommend personally thanking the host when it is time for you to leave and then also sending them a quick email the following day. There aren’t many easier ways to get your email signature with full contact information in front of decision-makers, right?