No doubt you have started to receive invitations for your industry’s holiday parties; maybe you have been for weeks now. And while you’re all about having fun, you also recognize that this could be an opportunity for you to grow your business. But this creates a dilemma. Because while an industry event between the months of January and October is geared toward networking, the holiday parties of November and December are really about celebration and philanthropy. But this isn’t to say that people don’t seize the opportunity to make and strengthen relationships with key industry members, and it’s not a bad idea to do just that. But here’s how to do it tactfully:
Choose Events Wisely. Be sure that the events you decide to attend will give you the opportunity you want to make face-to-face contact with the people you want to meet. Which brings me to:
Make A List of the People You Want to Meet. Then edit. And possibly edit some more. don’t overload yourself, anywhere from two to five people (five being nearly too many) is a good number to have on your list. If you show up to an event with twenty people in mind to connect to and most of them happen to be there, you’ll be running around and not making much of an impression.
Acknowledge Current Clients. This is most important of all because not only should you express your gratitude for their business but referrals are everything in every industry. A good one will take you far, and require you to spend less energy introducing your brand to new people.
Memorize A Concise Statement Of What You Do. Inevitable, and hopefully, you will b e asked what your job is. You should be able to tell them in five seconds, ten tops. Then you stop talking and read their signals. Do they ask you another question about your work? Do they encourage you through their facial expression to continue speaking about your job? If not, leave it to that and inquire a little bit more about them. chances are, you’ll be able to elaborate further or better yet, have an in-depth conversation with them about a current industry trend.
Bring Business Cards. And that’s it. No paraphernalia allowed. No brochures, no fancy flyers, not one pen. Seriously.
Practice Your Listening Skills. Through the number of events that I have attended I have noticed that people are so preoccupied with what they are going to say next that they are not listening to one another. You’ll make a better impression by actively listening to what your contact is saying. And trust me, they will notice the effort you are making to hear what they’re saying. And besides, you need this information in order to build a solid relationship with them, right? Show them you care.
Offer Your Assistance. No, the other kind. The kind in which you do not send them a bill. Lend them sound advice, refer a professional that will help them with their challenges, offer your services free of charge (a small amount, of course) and do not follow up your offer with a “…and if you like it we can talk further!” That is the silent understanding between you so instead focus on the benevolence of the opportunity. Your karma will be good to you in return.
Be Genuine And Have FUN! This is the most important paragraph so I’ll keep it short to make sure the message isn’t lost. Do this.
Jessie Williams, Marketing Coordinator
Bonus Tip! Host your own party! Guaranteed to bring in the people from your list and being a good host is always impressive!