This exclusive guest post is written by Lauren Wesley Wilson, founder and Chief Networking Officer at ColorComm: Women of Color in Communications. Join us next Tuesday at 2pm ET @MadameNoireBiz for a Twitter chat with Wilson, where we’ll be discussing the ins and outs of networking and maintaining business relationships.
It’s the holidays. A wonderful time of year to meet new people, reconnect with old friends, sip some eggnog, and hope your crush makes his or her way to the Mistletoe toe (with you underneath). With all this fun and holiday spirit, comes a great time to network and build new business relationships. It’s easier to build relationships when people are in a good mood. Folks are often eager to help or point you in the right direction – after all, it’s the holidays!
However, in order to get what you want and maximize the most out of yet another holiday happy hour, you must refine your approach. Everything has to appear natural and organic, meanwhile you’ve done your research, made a plan, and you’re ahead of the game. Below are a few tips to help you navigate building new business relationships during the holidays.
1) Be strategic
By now you’ve been invited to 15 or so holiday happy hours, Christmas parties, Secret Santa swaps, Kwanzaa lightings, and more. This is just the beginning. There are more dinner and soirée invites ahead and your calendar has you out every night till midnight.
It’s not necessary to attend every last event that you’ve been invited to. Be strategic. You should attend an industry-wide function with professionals who work in the same field, your company’s holiday party (do not skip this), and an event primarily attended by executive leaders (typically invited by a mentor or sponsor).
2) Know the room before you get there
Have an idea of the audience and demographic that will be in the room so that you don’t waste time. Are you attending yet another holiday function with the majority of people in their 20s and 30s? Were you personally invited or was this an invite forwarded around? Is there a guest speaker? Is your mentor attending? Is your boss attending? If you happen to find out that your boss is attending, you should definitely attend. This will likely be a crowd of executive leaders. Go on your own and introduce yourself to new people. If your boss is there, they might even help you meet several key contacts.
And don’t waste precious weeknights with friends, catch up with them on the weekends.