The holidays bring with them so many wonderful things. Cheerful faces, fanciful decorations, and thoughtful gifts, just to name a few. But there’s one thing that rarely comes to mind when the holidays are mentioned: networking. Sure, there are holiday-themed office parties and happy hours galore, but the idea of truly networking during such events couldn’t be farther from most peoples’ minds.
In reality, the holidays are one of the best times to engage in networking. Perhaps it’s the magic of the season or the accompanying feeling of merriment, but generally speaking, people tend to be in a more open and giving mood. Consequently, they are more receptive to opportunities to partner with and serve as a resource to others.
The majority of holiday networking events provide a more casual setting to rub elbows with individuals you might otherwise never get the chance to interact with. Even the most formal of holiday business networking events provide ample opportunities in which to nurture business relationships and chat up potential future clients and employees.
Here are a few basic tips for making the most of holiday networking opportunities:
*Don’t be too business-focused. Granted, your goal is to build your business, but above all else, holiday get-togethers should be fun and cordial. Remembering, networking is about building relationships, so strive to talk about something other than business. Ask about the other person’s hobbies or family. Above all else, just focus on being there. Remember, visibility is the most important holiday networking strategy.
* Keep an eye out for opportunities. You never know where a great business idea will surface.Holidaynetworking events are a great chance to bounce ideas off fellow guests. However, don’t forget to watch for the hidden opportunities. For example, if you are eating at an establishment that boasts a particularly unique condiment, inquire about opportunities to bottle and sell the product. The chef or owner may have never even considered such a venture.
* Always maintain your professional decorum. Avoid the temptation to be the “life of the party.” Don’t make off-color jokes or prattle on ad nauseaum. Above all else, avoid drinking or eating too much. After all, nothing destroys a potential new business relationship faster than having someone vomit on your shoes.
* Don’t forget to follow up. Awash in the holiday spirit, it’s easy to get swept up in the feeling of the season. Ideas that might otherwise have been brushed aside may be embraced wholeheartedly, only to be forgotten once the holidays are ancient history. So be sure to call up those individuals with whom you seemed to make a particularly strong connection at the event. You just may find yourself with a new venture on your hands for the new year.