Top 10 Tips for Fruitful Holiday Networking
We are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season (Halloween through the New Year) and with it comes a veritable cornucopia of great opportunities to meet people and make valuable connections that will help grow our businesses and reach our goals. Don’t think of this as “one more thing to put on your list.” Instead, it’s just a simple mindset shift and being prepared when you see opportunity waiting for you, right under the mistletoe.
Every event can be a networking opportunity. Moods are generally festive and the atmosphere is very friendly. Each cookie party, winter concert, cocktail reception and – even a costume party – can provide you with valuable opportunity to build new relationships. For instance, I was drawn into a conversation about writing books at a Halloween party. And when I ran into my dentist at a local Chamber event, I complimented him on his new newsletters and we ended up in a conversation about my article-writing support services. These conversations were genuine, non-salesy chats that were interesting and beneficial for all parties. And we still had lots of fun!
Go with the Flow: First to remember – go with the flow and wait for opportunity to naturally arise to share information about your products or services. Don’t be in people’s faces with “what you do.” Convey in a few words the value you offer and how that can be of use to their concerns or needs.
Get out of Your Comfort Zone: Don’t cling to your friends… or the buffet. Friends and good food can become a comfort zone and before you know it the party is over and you’ve barely told people more than your first name. Make the effort to break free from what’s comfortable to clinch some important face time with new connections and potential clients.
Be Prepared: Always have your business cards and a pen on hand. A personal note on the back of a card will do wonders for those who may have trouble remembering your specialty through the spiked-eggnog fog of the evening before. It will help to jog their memory when they see “Ghostwriting books for my business” instead of just a name and number. And even if you’re just recommending a great new charity you support, jot it down on the back of your business card. They’ll have a subtle reminder of your services in hand later.
Be Memorable. Too many parties and events and people’s names and faces all start to blend together. Don’t let your face fade from memory. Make your conversation stand out by being attentive and asking thoughtful questions. Show sincere interest.
Do the Unexpected. Instead of foisting your business card on everyone you meet, ask them for their contact information, especially if they show interest in your services. You’ll be surprised how many people will give it out and be sure to let them know that you will follow up with them soon. And mean it.
Follow up Promptly. Yes, we’ve covered that the holidays are busy. For you, for them, for everyone. However, a quick friendly email follow up within 48 hours of the event will make sure that you stick in their memory. Take that opportunity to invite them to a presentation, set up a lunch, phone meeting or coffee for after the holidays.
Show Generosity: Savor the spirit of holiday season and share it wherever you go. Invite people you want to get to know better to a catered lunch in your office or a casual afternoon of coffee, cider and cookies as a shopping break. Send small but thoughtful gifts to former clients, warm prospects, valued colleagues and treasured team members. It is essential to be generous, embrace the spirit of service and giving, and make every effort you can to brighten up the lives of those around you by sharing your unique and brilliant talents.
So eat, drink and be merry. While you’re at it, build new relationships that will benefit everyone as you head into the New Year.