Tis the season for holiday mixers and office holiday parties. How’s a novice (or veteran) networker to prepare? Here are a few basic tips for surviving the gauntlet of potential holiday season events.
1) In the words of Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, it’s netWORKing, not netDRINKing. If you want to put your best foot forward, whether to impress the boss, lobby for a promotion, or land a new job, you’re likely to do a better job if you’re drinking a soft drink instead of a double martini.
2) You go to these events to make a connection to follow up on later, not to close a sale or land the job. (No one I know has landed a sale or a new job at a networking event, so don’t set this expectation.) Your goal should be to make a positive first impression, agree to a follow up, and keep that commitment by following up within 48 hours. (That follow up can come in the form of an email or a customized LinkedIn connection request with some background information on where and when you met.)
3) Even a novice at networking can make a positive first impression by developing and delivering a memorable elevator speech. You don’t have to have a Madison-avenue inspired tag line, just something that’s memorable and evocative of your company or your personal brand. Encapsulate what you do or your firm’s value statement into a 30 second spot. (Practice it so that it sounds unrehearsed.)
Follow these tips and even the most reluctant networkers can sail through the year-end gauntlet of business mixers and holiday parties with ease.