Navigating Holiday Networking
Networking your way through the holidays can be stressful – but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re a networking novice or a seasoned veteran, everyone can benefit from attending industry holiday parties. We’ve compiled our top five tips to help you survive (and thrive) during this season’s networking events.
Tip #1: Choose Your Events Strategically
The holiday season is filled with so many parties and networking events that it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which invitations to accept. When deciding which events to commit to, consider what you hope to gain by attending. Is your goal to catch up with your favorite industry partner? Are you hoping to introduce yourself to a potential new client? Whatever your priority is, be respectful of your own time and choose the events you find most beneficial.
Remember: If you say you’ll attend, make sure to actually show up! The last thing you want to do is over-commit yourself and appear unreliable to your colleagues.
Tip #2: Stop Responding With “I’m Too Busy”
Between end-of-year deadlines, family obligations, and holiday travel plans, everyone’s schedules are jam-packed. If you can’t make it to an event, thank the host or hostess for the invitation and focus your reason for declining on the positives. “I’m excited to spend time with my kids” or “I’m looking forward to a few days on the slopes” are great alternatives to the typical “I’m too busy” response.
Tip #3: Familiarize Yourself With the Guest List
Holiday networking events are a great way to touch base with a large number of people in a short amount of time. Many guest lists are available ahead of time, so take the time to review who will be attending each party and create a list of the people you want to connect with. Whether your list is comprised of new connections or established relationships, we suggest picking three to five “top targets” to engage as a priority before socializing with friends or co-workers.
Tip #4: Steer the Conversation Away From Work
Although networking events are typically business-focused, the holidays are centered around friends, family, and personal reflection. Ditch the work small talk and embrace this time to get to know people on a more personal level. Asking simple questions like “What are your plans for the holidays?” or “Are you traveling or taking time off?” are easy, noninvasive conversation starters. These topics can also lead to great follow-up conversations after the holidays are over!
Tip #5: Watch Your Alcohol Intake
It’s okay to relax and have a couple of drinks, but keep in mind that you’re surrounded by colleagues and other industry professionals. Ultimately, you are representing your company at these events. Open bars and festive cocktails can make it easy to over-indulge, so set a drink limit for yourself before you arrive – if you reach your limit you can always ask the bartender for a festive mocktail instead. If networking makes you nervous, try hanging out by the food table rather than the bar.
Remember: Drinking and driving is NEVER a good choice. If you find you’ve had one too many, exercise caution and call for a ride.