If the notion of “networking” during the holidays make you cringe like the grinch, count yourself in plentiful company.
Why not look at it through a different lens all together? Rather than viewing holiday get-togethers as a place for idle chit chat or chatting with a hidden motive, think of it as a rare opportunity to spend some time outside of work connecting with those that cross your path – friends, colleagues, vendors, customers – but with whom there is rarely time for more meaningful conversations.
Here’s my advice on three common holiday networking situations and how best to tackle them for optimal enjoyment AND personal benefit:
#1 Year-End Potluck or Holiday Luncheons
End-of-year potlucks and luncheons tend to take place during the lunch hour, and most often at a nearby restaurant or in your office building.
I’m of the opinion that you can socialize with your work friends at any time – but a year-end lunch is an ideal chance to make a new connection that could be mutually beneficial in the future.
Instead of sitting with your usuals this year – or those with whom you are closest, try something new. Consider taking your seat next to someone with whom you’d love to work with in the future, or even someone that is usually too busy during the business day to hold a conversation.
Skip the work banter and talk about life! If the conversation runs smoothly, you can always take your leave at the end of the luncheon by saying you’d love to connect via work calendar for a future discussion.
#2 The Evening Soiree
Evening holiday parties are often held at an offsite venue, and the guest list expands to include significant others, spouses, doctors, KOLs, healthcare system gatekeepers, and more.
Per usual, human nature makes us gravitate toward people with whom we interact on a regular basis. Like the pot-luck lunch, however, why not use this evening event to approach new people? The evening event is a perfect opportunity for you to put names with faces, introduce them to your plus-one and allow them to walk away impressed while doing the same.
I recommend arriving to an evening party prepared with one or two company details that might be mutually beneficial. Unlike the work lunch, where I advise straying away from work-related conversation, at this venue, it is perfectly appropriate to mix up the chat a bit. Include talk of holiday plans as well as your company’s latest projects.
#3 The Family/Friend/Neighborhood Shindig
To use a sport’s analogy, in my view, your first-string network should always be comprised of friends and family. Your second-string should include the friends and family of your friends and family.
In my view, there’s no better place to build out your second-string network than at a holiday open house or cocktail party. Why? Because it may turn out that your neighbor’s friend’s daughter’s volleyball coach knows a person that can get you one step closer to your career goal.
While this is certainly the time to converse with a good friend, I recommend making it a point to hold a few new conversations. If you hate talking about yourself or your work, ask them about theirs!
If a conversation grows organically from there and could lead to a potential lead, lay the groundwork for a second chat after the holidays.
The Perfect Opportunity
When it comes to networking during the holidays, you’ll be able to expand your network and make connections that grow into 2020 by just committing to a few new conversations at each event.
From an office lunch to an evening cocktail party to a friend’s open house, these gatherings are commonplace at year-end and present a wonderful chance to make new connections and grow others.
– By Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW
Virginia Franco Resumes | www .virginiafrancoresumes.com | VAFrancoResumes@gmail.com