How to Make Your Holiday Party Pay
The holiday season is upon us, and that means it's time to sort through all of your party invitations. While you may be grumbling about having to go to them at all, you can make the best of it by turning these parties into networking opportunities. Steve Fretzin, Founder and President of Sales Results, Inc., put together a list of the six tips that will ensure you're making the most of your networking efforts:
1. Do Some Research Ahead of Time. Try to obtain a guest list or find out who will be in attendance. This way, you can do some research to find out who the best people to meet will be. "It's key to talk to the person who is running the party, don't just wing it," says Fretzin. "I went to a holiday party at a law firm client, and beforehand I met with the client, asked who they thought would be a good lead for me at the party, and then they introduced me when we were there." This not only helps you spend your time at the party more effectively, but also helps you prepare for conversations with these connections.
2. Maintain Your Professionalism. Even though it's a celebratory event, refrain from over-drinking and make sure not to under dress if you want to make a good impression. Fretzin says to also avoid being a "one-upper"-don't try to constantly tell a better story than the person you're with. First impressions are still important-holiday party or not! Also be sure to keep plenty of business cards handy.
3. Never Say No to a Party. Whether it's your company party, your spouse's or your dentist's, never say no! You never know who you'll meet, and it's a great way to get some quality introductions from the host.
4. Find Natural Affinities. One of the easiest ways to establish rapport is to find out where your common interests lie. Fretzin says a good starting point is to talk about how you know the host of the party.
5. Offer to help. One sure way to guarantee a follow-up conversation is to offer to help your contact in some way-either by suggesting a lead for a client, a potential business partner, etc. "If you're unemployed and approaching an employer, you'll look less needy," Fretzin says. "It shouldn't be used as leverage, but it's a good way to guarantee a follow-up conversation after the day of the party."
6. Follow Up! You can network as often as you can, but you won't see the results you want without proper follow-up. A good rule of thumb is to follow up with new contacts within a day of meeting them. This ensures you stay connected and shows you are organized and professional.