Yet as the holidays approach we’re likely putting networking on the backburner as we get into the holiday spirit and prepare to coast until the New Year. But don’t switch into autopilot just yet!
Holiday parties at work or with friends are the perfect opportunity to make new connections with people that can potentially take you to the next level. What’s the best way to go about networking at your next event?
Marielle Legair, communications director at ColorComm, shares a few important tips to help you shine while working a room and expanding your contact list. ColorComm is a network aimed at women of color working in the communications industry.
Legair relocated from London to New York two years ago and credits networking as one of the key skills she relied on in order to start a new life and career. Read on for her handy advice on networking during the holiday season.
1. Plan and prepare.
Try to find out who is attending an event and think about who you want to speak with beforehand. Always arrive on time so that you’re not flustered when entering the room. If you’re going to a popular event, get there early enough to get a seat at a table so that you’re in a good position to join the conversation.
2. Speak with intention.
Know what you want to say and what you want to get out of each conversation. Check the news before arriving so that you’re well-informed about current events. Do not gossip about other people. There is nothing worse than hearing someone speak ill of another person, especially in a professional environment. The gossiper always comes off looking unprofessional.
3. Introduce your full name.
Not only will introducing your full name make you sound more professional, but it holds more weight and authority than saying: “Hello, I’m Marielle.” People are also more inclined to remember your name when you say first and last. If you’re anything like me and have trouble remembering names, try to insert names into conversation to memorize it.
4. Watch your non-verbal communication.
Dress appropriately and think about the way you walk into the room. Command it! Shoulders back, head high – not as if you’re strutting down a runway, but try to exude confidence even if you have to pretend. Do give a firm handshake and a smile to everyone you’re introduced to and remember to keep steady eye contact throughout your conversations. Don’t be the one to give a wet fish handshake as it signifies a lack of confidence.
5. Do a proper follow up.
Send a note the next day to say you enjoyed meeting the person. Suggest continuing the discussion over coffee if you feel this would be a mutually beneficial relationship. Try to remain in regular contact, either by sending news articles likely to be of interest to the person or by inviting the person to another event. Do not only get in touch when you need something. It’s often obvious and no one likes a user!
Being good at networking isn’t difficult, but it does take time to perfect. Don’t worry if it’s not your strong suit just yet. The more you practice the better at it you’ll become. Use these networking tips during your holiday parties and you’ll meet new people while enjoying the festivities.