How to network during the holiday for profit
By Walethia Aquil
What I don’t like about office parties is looking for a job the next day. -Phyllis Diller ☺
You received an invitation to a holiday party, hosted by a prospective client. It is that time of the year, time to eat drink and be merry, wrong!
This is the time to party with a purpose, you can take advantage of the opportunity to have some fun and make that all important connection.
Or you can let it all hang out and hinder or even stop your business from moving forward. The holiday season is a excellent time for networking; however you do not want to go blindly to every party you are invited to, have a plan, develop a strategy.
Following these basic rules you are sure to make a favorable impression with friends, colleagues, and potential clients.
1. Do your homework: Is there someone you want to make a connection with? If it is a trade association or professional group, ask the organizer to forward you the guest list. Look up the board of directors before the event. Those are the people you want to meet; because they will have a lot of useful contacts. Spend some time with the host, they know key guests and can introduce you.
2. Arrive on time, again arrive on time, again arrive on time. Arriving on time is a power networking strategy. When you are on time there are fewer people and that makes it easier to connect with the hosts and the key people. If you are shy, it is much easier to manage a room of 20 people than 200.
3. Do conduct your professionally at all times. This is not the time to pull out the club attire, nor is this the time to drop it like it is hot. If the attire is not stated on the invitation, conservative party clothes are a smart choice. Remember you represent your company.
4. Do not head straight to the buffet table. I always eat before going to an event, that way I am not hungry, and my mind is not on the food. One way to destroy your image is food in your teeth or greasy fingers from eating chicken wings. Picture this, the decision maker of a company heads your way, they extend their hand to introduce themselves, your hands are greasy and sticky. Go easy on the food, remember this is not dinner.
5. Plan to drink moderately, if at all. I have seen some personalities manifest at parties, especially after a person has had a few too many. You don’t want to do or say something that you will regret the next day, we live in a small world. Just imagine somebody with a camera phone, some offices, restaurants have security cameras. You never know who is watching.
Grace and Charm Insight: Keep your champagne glass in your left hand, so your right is not cold and wet when you introduce yourself.
6. Talking too much, don’t be rude and monopolize a person time. Allow yourself and others the opportunity to mingle. Spend a few minutes with a person; remember your goal is to make a connection.
You can say; “It was a pleasure talking with you Mr. Smith, I am going to give you time to talk to other people.”
7. Read the invitation, RSVP in its simples form means to respond. Food and refreshment is planed according to the number of people expected. So please RSVP. Some organizations allow for additional guest, some do not, again read the invitation, does it say Mrs. Aquil and Guest, or Mrs. Aquil.
8. Have your card in the event someone does ask how to contact you. However, this is not the time to do a business card blast.
9. Respond to all invitations. This is a busy time of year, and you may not be able to honor all of the invitation you receive, but be polite and consider it an honor that someone thought enough of you to request the pleasure of your company. A simple phone call expressing your regrets will keep you in good graces.
10. Don’t assume everyone celebrates the same holiday, so don’t go overboard with the “Merry Christmas.” Many people have different belief; you do not want to alienate a vital contact. “Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings” is the appropriate greeting during this time of year because it incorporates ALL religious and cultural holidays.
I know I said ten, I like adding providing high value and high content. I would rather under promise and over deliver, than over promise and not deliver.
11. Thank the host, they went to a lot of time and effort, it is the courteous thing to do. Make the extra effort and send a handwritten thank you note card, it makes you stand out from the many that do not.
Increased revenue for 2011, now that is something to celebrate!