Networking At Your Holiday PartiesDec 04, 2022
It’s holiday party time! Whether it’s a networking party, your spouses work party, a family party or a friends party, there is always an opportunity to network. Whether you love or hate the holiday parties, here are some helpful tips to networking at your next holiday event.
First of all, let’s get personal. I hate when I attend my husbands work party and I get asked “what do you do?” When I’m at a networking with other entrepreneurs, I have no problem answering this question, but with my husbands coworkers, the usual elevator pitch will not work. They just want a simple title ie; accountant, lawyer, doctor, aesthetician. And here I come… “I’m a Trainer of NLP & Hypnotherapy and a Mind Performance Coach” and then I watch their eyes glaze over. That’s if I’m lucky. If I’m not lucky, they follow up with something like “what exactly is that?” Or the always dreaded “do you hypnotize people? Can you hypnotize me? You won’t make us cluck like chickens will you?”
I’ve tried to simply this over the years but with no success.
“I’m a coach”… which sport do you coach?
“I’m a coach for entrepreneurs” …what does that mean?
“I’m a hypnotherapist”… bring on the dreaded hypnosis questions. One year, his coworkers spouse said hypnosis was “the devils work”. That was a fun night.
I’ve thought about lying and saying I’m an accountant, or something else that’s normal and expected, but then I dread the follow up questions if I can’t answer them. Besides, this is about networking, and lying isn’t a great first impression.
I’ve thought about being mysteriously aloof and saying “that’s a great question” and then walking away. Or in the style of Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother, raising my hand and saying “Please” as if the question is beneath me.
So far, the best strategy I have come up with is to flip the script and turn the questions to them. People love to talk about themselves and this brings me to my first Holiday Party Networking tip:
Use Ice Breakers
Here are some ice breaking questions and conversation starters to attend your parties armed with:
The classic ice breakers:
These are easy to ask, work in most situations and they open the conversation
- “Hi, I don’t know anyone here, do you mind if I introduce myself?”
- Offer a compliment “That’s a fantastic [scarf, jacket, bag etc]”
- “Have you been to this event/party before?”
Location, location, location!!!
These are based on location so they’re easy to come up with on the spot. Just ask a question about the space or what you’re doing there.
- “How’s the wine?”
- “Have you tried the appetizers? Which one was your favourite?”
- “Have you been to this restaurant/ space/ hotel before?
Seasonal ice breakers:
- “What are your holiday plans?”
- “What you are you most looking forward to over the holidays?”
- “What’s your favourite holiday tradition/ movie/ song?”
What to wear
What you wear is just as important as how you introduce yourself. In fact, your clothing will introduce you before you can introduce yourself.
- Dress up. It’s the holidays, a perfect opportunity to add some sparkle to your outfits.
- Dress professionally. You still want to represent yourself as the professional you. Think of this as an elevated representation of what you would wear to see a client but with maybe a few sequins.
- Leave the ugly Christmas sweater at home unless the invite specifically states ugly sweater party.
- Over dressed is always safer than underdressed.
Conversation Do’s and Don’ts
- Don’t monopolize anyones time. After conversing for awhile with one person, politely excuse yourself so that they can speak with someone else.
- Look for open groups to join. An open group is one where they are gathered in a shape that has an opening such as a semi-circle. This indicates they are open to others joining their conversation. Don’t join a closed a group such as a circle or square. This indicates they are having a closed conversation and you shouldn’t interrupt.
- Approach people who look like they’re standing alone or off to the side of the room. They might be feeling uncomfortable in a social situation and they might appreciate having someone reach out to them.
- Ask questions about them that are easy to answer, but avoid anything too personal. People like to talk about themselves.
- Being interested is much more important than being interesting.
Have fun this holiday season at your parties, have fun, be social present yourself professionally. You never know where your next lead will come from.
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