Holiday parties are a mixed bag. They can provide a great opportunity to make valuable new contacts. They can reconnect you to old friends. But much of the time, they consist of forced conversation with strangers over weak punch as Pandora streams Bing Crosby covers in the background. In case that sounds familiar, use the following pointers to ensure that your next holiday party is a little more memorable.
- Show up: Take advantage of party season by attending as many holiday events as you can. (You just never know who you will meet.) If this notion seems daunting, consider dropping by for just 45 minutes. Seek to make one or two quality connections before you make your exit.
- Bring business cards: I know, it’s a social affair, but you should still bring twice as many cards as you think you’ll need. I’m always baffled by people who “just ran out of cards” at a party. They never strike me as unexpectedly popular. Just underprepared.
- Don’t arrive hungry: It’s been a long day and you haven’t had dinner. Might as well fill up on chips, guac, and chicken skewers, right? Well, unless you are unusually dexterous, you won’t be able to hold a cocktail in one hand, shake hands with the other, and fish a business card out of your purse or pocket without spilling something onto somebody. That mulled wine makes for a nasty stain.
- Be bold: It can be awkward to approach someone you don’t know, especially if they are embroiled in a conversation with someone else you don’t know. Just wait for a lull in the conversation and step forward with, “Excuse me, may I join you? I don’t know a lot of the people here so I thought I’d introduce myself.” Remember, they are there to network too, so it’s highly unlikely they will take offense if you initiate a conversation.
- Follow up: Don’t wait until the New Year to circle back on your holiday networking. Follow up within a day or two of the party while your memory is fresh and everyone’s enthusiasm for new initiatives is genuine.
Perhaps it sounds mercenary, but just because they called it a "holiday party" doesn’t mean you can’t show up with a game plan. Apply a little strategy to your networking this month so that you set yourself up for a more successful 2017.
Authored by David Ackert