Social Networking: Top 7 Tips for Festive Networking
By Helen Wilkie
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The festive season typically offers more than the usual number of networking opportunities. Company, association and club holiday parties can create interesting and useful new relationships if you treat them as business opportunities. Follow these seven simple tips to make the most of the opportunities and still have a good time.
- Spend your time meeting and talking with new people instead of those you already know. Spending all the break time with your colleagues, and sitting with them at meals, may be easy but it's not effective networking. If you really want to spend time with a friend, arrange to sit together at the final presentation or meal, or even have coffee after the event is over, and use the rest of the opportunities to begin new relationships.
- Begin friendly conversations with those you meet in the refreshment line-up. Most people seem fixated on the food, speaking to nobody as they load up on coffee and muffins. But you can easily start a conversation with the person behind or in front of you about how delicious the food looks, or how excited you are about the keynote speaker. By the time you have worked your way round the table, you can move off together and you have your first conversation partner.
- ALWAYS have business cards with you—no excuses! Keep them accessible. If you keep your cards in one pocket and other people’s cards in the other, you won’t inadvertently give away a hot lead!
- Stand close enough to a conversational group to be noticed without thrusting yourself in. Sooner or later, someone will notice you and speak. If another person is talking when you are invited to join the group, encourage them to continue their story and wait until they have finished before making your introductions.
- Listen. When you don’t know what to say, ask questions that allow other people to talk about themselves—and then really listen to their answers. Excellent conversations can result.
- You don’t need excuses to end conversations—mingling is the whole point of networking events. Simply say, “I’ve enjoyed chatting with you—enjoy the conference.” Then move on.
- Be prepared to help as well as be helped, to give as well as receive, to introduce other people to each other even when it doesn't appear to benefit you. That is the spirit of networking, and those who go into it with that spirit are those who get the most out of it in the end. Happy networking!
Helen Wilkie is a professional speaker and communication specialist. Reach her at 1-416-966-5023 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on how to sow and grow your network, visit
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Article Submitted On: November 16, 2004