Holiday Networking Doesn’t Have to be Scary!
Social Networks have left us with a whole lot of “networking” and very little socializing.
I miss the old days of social networking- scheduling time to meet someone in person to share a meal, play some golf, maybe have a drink to discuss business opportunities and get to know one another a bit better. We mixed some social with our networking.
With the explosion of online socializing, in-person meet and greets have become few and far between. Handshakes are replaced by “likes”, send posts rather than picking up the phone, and “follow” colleagues rather than sitting down face-to-face.
In defense of this new dynamic, “social networking” is simpler to manage. With the typical work day stretching well beyond 9-5 and the unending demands of life, there isn’t much wiggle room in our schedules for more than a brief click. As the holidays roll around, the demands on our time increase 10 fold. (Costco has had holiday decorations out since July!) Personal commitments fill our holiday weekends before October has even come to a close, and the last thing you have time for (or interest in) is an evening spent making idle small talk with colleagues you’ve never met before. So when the Evite arrives from the local chapter of a marketing group or sales organization, your first instinct is to reply with a resounding No, I don’t have time.
It doesn’t have to be that way…
This year, why not make the commitment to bring back the “social” by solidifying current professional relationships and build new ones in a more genuine, face to face capacity.
5 Tips for Putting the Social Back in Networking This Holiday Season
Prioritize your events
Who and where you network are most important. Invest your time in groups that specialize in your field or whose members share your role or title. The more you click with a group and its members, the less it will feel like work, and the more fun you will have!
Timing is everything
Choose wisely and be realistic about your commitments and your calendar. Spacing out your social networking opportunities to one or two per week (at most!) will prevent you from burning-out while allowing you to enjoy the social aspect.
Cast a wide net
Use the social season to explore new groups or organizations you’ve heard about or whose meetings you have not been able to attend in the past. Not only will you be able to learn more about the group itself, but you will likely form new relationships.
Don’t go it alone
Because holiday socials rarely include a speaker or breakout session, they are a great opportunity to bring a friend, vendor, or client and introduce them to the group.
Get to know THEM
Don’t lead with your business card and keep quiet about your latest sales numbers. Grab a glass of wine and a bacon-wrapped date. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Engage in conversations beyond 140 characters and emojis. Introduce them to others you might know at the event. Share a bit about yourself beyond your title and company.