5 Tips To Survive Upcoming Holiday Networking Events

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Holiday parties are fast approaching and with parties come the inevitable, usually awesome, sometimes awkward, but always important task of networking! Tis the season to meet to clients, partners, suppliers, and friends.
My first networking event for CCR, I was beyond nervous. I didn’t even have business cards yet, but there I was at Howl at the Moon, representing this super cool, I don’t know if I fit in yet, OMG what if someone asks me about our services, eek I’ve only been here a week, company. Luck would have it that just as I was walking up the two steps to approach the bar, a man walking down the steps tripped and spilled his very full, very blue drink all over my coral shirt. It was awkward, I looked like a Broncos banner, and smelled like blueberries and vodka- but, it was also an ice breaker and I met some friends and clients that two years later still laugh about my first attempt at becoming the “CCR girl.” Now, you may not have the “luck” I did at my first networking event, but it still doesn’t have to be an intimidating evening. Here are some simple, actionable tips to help you thrive at your next networking event.
  • Plan some ice-breakers or introductions ahead of time. The hardest part of talking to someone new is initiating conversation. People love compliments so find someone who is wearing or doing something you find interesting and compliment them on that. If you are at an industry specific event, read up on the latest news and chat with someone on their opinions of headlining topics. If you will be mingling with people from all industries, have a couple of generic questions, food, travel, and resolutions are popular topics during the holidays.
  • Ask for an introduction. If you know even one person at an event, chances are they know at least one more person, and so on. Ask a friend or colleague to introduce you to someone they know (and if possible return the favor), your mutual connection will make the conversation more natural and a connection will be built faster than ever.
  • Focus on relationships. Don’t go to a networking event expecting to generate business, go with the goal of building new relationships. Remember that these are people you’re meeting, with stories, goals, and interests; look at them as more than dollar signs and you might find a friend along with your next big client.
  • Set a time limit. It can be easy to stay chatting with the same cluster of people the entire evening, don’t! set a 5-10 minute time limit on each interaction and smoothly slip away to maximize your meeting possibilities. Can’t slip away? Excuse yourself to freshen up and tell them you will catch up with them later.
  • Making eye contact and smiling invites people to approach you. Stand with your arms at your side (not crossed!) and a smile on your face to signal that you are friendly and open to meeting new people. Remember, everyone feels awkward and will be looking for a friendly person to chat with.

Hopefully these tips make you feel more relaxed and ready for your next holiday party or networking opportunity. Remember to have fun, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be a great success.