Eight Tips for Networking Through the Holidays

By karlsmith-then…, 11 December, 2012

It’s that time of year again, the holiday season! Besides focusing on all things holiday-related, there is something else you should be doing too – networking. Both parties for relatives and work are great places to meet people. Using the tips in this article, you can get yourself looking more polished, in better standing with your connections, and on the right path to personal success just in time for the New Year.

Avoid avoidance. Relationships are critical in business and open doors to opportunities. Networking, at its soul, is about creating relationships that grow over time and lead to personal growth, business collaborations and opportunities, and sometimes even lifelong friendships. Commit to networking as part of your road to success. Avoid avoidance; accept those invitations.

Dress for success (on the inside). Networking is not prospecting. You’re not a hunter looking for your next prey. Networking is about connecting, being memorable, starting relationships – not proposing marriage on the first date. Dress for success on the inside by reminding yourself that networking is about making meaningful connections first.

Prepare the not so usual conversation starters. Everyone (and I mean everyone) resorts to “So, what do you do?” as a conversation starter – even at non-business holiday parties. Don’t be that lazy. Put some thought into questions you can ask that will lead to more interesting and memorable conversations. Example: What’s your favourite thing about this time of year? When you’re not working, what do you like to do? How do you know (insert name of event host or mutual acquaintance)? You get the idea.

Connect before the parties. Before going to a networking event use email and social media tools to reach out to other people you know will be attending. Let them know you’re looking forward to meeting them, (or to seeing them again), which will make your real-life greeting much warmer and lead to a more fruitful conversation.

Share your ideas. Particularly at a company function, use casual conversation with individuals as an opportunity to “plant a seed” in regard to an idea you have for the business that you’d like to discuss. I certainly would not recommend divulging anything confidential, especially at an event with cocktails, but by planting a seed with perhaps someone you don’t typically have the opportunity to interact with, you open the door to follow up with them after the holidays.

Celebrate your own success. Share your successes with others – even if it’s just one or two close friends - and allow yourself the pleasure of feeling good about everything you accomplished this year, no matter how small. Celebrate the ways you helped others be more successful this year. And allow yourself to dream of success for next year!

Reconnect with friends from your past. Check out LinkedIn and Facebook and search for old friends. What better time to reconnect than the holiday season? Get over the fact that it’s been awhile since you last spoke and take the first step. You may be pleasantly surprised by the response you get.

Listen with genuine attention. Who is more memorable, the person who does all the talking or the person who took the time to truly listen to you, went out of their way to introduce you to others and followed up with you? BE that person!

Cheers to your networking success this holiday season!

P.S. One final tip – Go easy on the rum and egg-nog, okay?

As a high stakes conference and keynote speaker, trainer, coach and organizational consultant, Karl Smith has worked with thousands of senior executives and entrepreneurs in South Africa, challenging their traditional notions about business relationships and excellence.
This article may be copied or republished with the following credit: "By Karl Smith: author, speaker and founder of Business Networking South Africa” Cape Town.



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