The holiday season tends to come with a lot of gatherings, parties, and other events that make for excellent networking opportunities. With the holidays right around the corner, now is a good time to brush up on your networking skills.
To help you out, let’s take a look at 10 proven holiday networking tips and tricks. While these networking tips are geared toward holiday events, they can also help out at any event where networking is your goal.
1. Know Your Goals
Beyond simply meeting new people and forming new connections, what are your networking goals? Are you trying to gain new clients, find helpful resources for your role, or get expert advice? Answering these questions will help you pinpoint exactly what it is that you want to accomplish so you can focus on meeting that goal.
For instance, if your goal is to attract more clients then you will want to cast a wide net and bring plenty of business cards to hand out. If your goal is to find a business mentor meanwhile, you might want to focus on quality over quantity. These are just a couple of examples of how knowing your goals can help you make the most of a networking event.
2. Follow Up
There is precious little good that a short conversation with someone can do if you don’t follow up with them later. Instead of just pointlessly collecting business cards, be sure to set aside time after the event to reach out to the people that you’ve connected with, thanking them for their time and offering them your services. Add a personal touch as well if you are able, such as mentioning something from your conversation.
3. Prepare for the Most Common Questions
What brings you here? What do you do for work? What do you like doing outside of work? These are just a few of the common questions you are almost certain to hear at a networking event, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for them.
As you go about preparing answers for these common questions, it’s also a good idea to make sure that your answers are aligned with your networking goals. If someone asks you what you do for a living, prepare an answer that gently invites them to be a part of it!
4. Take Notes
When you are meeting dozens of new people in a single night, it can be hard to keep track of who’s who. Jotting down a few notes on the back of a person’s business card once the conversation with them is over is one great way to make sure you are able to remember the important parts when it comes time to follow up.
5. Engage in Active Listening
Active listening is defined as listening in a way that is designed to demonstrate that you are engaged and genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. It involves things such as asking questions, repeating details back to the other person, and giving verbal and non-verbal cues that you hear and understand what they are telling you.
People notice when the person they are speaking to is genuinely interested in what they have to say, and practicing active listening is sure to help you make a good impression.
6. Give People Time
Most people want time to acclimate before they get started networking, so be sure to let the event play out for a bit before you dive in. By the same token, you shouldn’t start a conversation with someone new by immediately marketing yourself. Instead, focus on forming a meaningful connection at the start of the conversation and save the actual networking for later.
7. Make a Good Introduction
First impressions are important, so it’s essential to really nail the introduction. In fact, one study found that people have just 27 seconds to make a good first impression. To get off on the best possible foot, offer a firm (but not too firm!) handshake, smile as you are introducing yourself, and repeat the other person’s name back to them when they tell it to you to both help you remember it and to build familiarity.
8. Know How to Exit Conversations Gracefully
You probably don’t want to spend the entire event conversing with one person, but you also don’t want to come across as someone who is just bouncing from person to person and just there to collect business cards. This means that you will need to brush up on the art of exiting conversations gracefully, which entails being able to spot the right window to make your leave and doing so in a polite and pleasant manner.
9. Choose the Right Location
You will have more opportunities to meet people if you stick near high-traffic locations. At most events, these high-traffic locations are going to include the main door, the bar, and near the food.
10. Avoid Spreading Yourself too Thin
It’s much better to form one or two solid, meaningful connections at a networking event than it is to meet hundreds of people but not make a lasting impression on any of them. Don’t feel as if you have to collect as many business cards as possible. Instead, keep your goals for the event in mind and focus on meeting just a handful of people who will be able to help you reach them.
Get Out There
Good networking skills are something that can offer a lot of value. With the holiday season fast approaching, be sure to brush up on your networking tips and tricks to ensure that you are ready to capitalize on any holiday event. After all, there is no better time to expand your network than during a season that is already centered around goodwill and comradery.