Holiday Networking, Santa-Style

It's that special time of year again. Odds are that very soon
you'll be mingling with people you barely know (or know all-too-
well) at some sort of holiday get-together. Whether you're
attending out of courtesy, tradition, or business desperation
(it's been a tough year for many) doesn't matter. What DOES
matter is that you understand how holiday networking differs
from the networking you'll be doing in January.

Holiday networking is less aggressive, slower-paced and more
subtle. Think "market research" instead of "close the deal" and
you'll have the right mindset. Yes, making connections that
lead to sales is still a primary reason for attending social
functions, but around the holidays it's less obvious. The
social "dance" is longer.

So when preparing for your holiday party "performance,"
practice the role of Santa instead of Scrooge, and you'll do
just fine.

How would Santa act at that lavish bash in your office building
next week?

First, remember that Santa is friendly and approachable to
EVERYONE. He's not a snob or someone who's solely focused on
influential, powerful people. You'd do well to adopt that
attitude yourself. You'll enjoy yourself more, feel less
stressed, and who knows? You may meet someone with unexpected
influence or connections.

If you're one of the many people who'd rather have teeth pulled
than talk to strangers, rehearse a few "safe" opening lines.
"So how do you know (the host/hostess)?" or "Don't I know you
from somewhere?" are non-threatening ways to begin a
conversation, with the added benefit of allowing you to look for
connections. And "How has your day been?" is much more likely
to initiate small-talk than the usual "How are you?" ("Fine,
thanks.") exchange.

Second, Santa is a great listener who's really focused on other
people's wants and needs and not his own. He invites
confidences and listens more than he speaks. Can you imagine
Santa thrusting his business card on someone he's barely met?
(I DO have one of his cards, by the way. See it here.)

So ask a lot of "who, what, where, when and why" questions.
Try to spend the first five minutes of any conversation talking
about the other person. You already know about yourself; you
want to gather information and make friends with others.
Besides, it's very flattering. Someone who's interested in
others is invariably seen as someone worth knowing. (So tuck a
few business cards in your pocket beforehand!)

Finally, Santa is welcome and appreciated at any gathering
because he brings gifts. No, you don't need to carry in a large
red bag filled with personalized company pens or magnets. But
before the party, think about who you're likely to meet and what
you can offer them.

Have you read a great book? Do you know what's being built
across the street? Did you discover a helpful new product or
service? Then don't be a Scrooge! Spread the news. Offer the

Better yet, do you have a personal connection to someone party
attendees would like to meet? Then be prepared to offer their
name and/or business card.

And when talk does turn to business, keep it light and keep it
brief. If you have helpful ideas to pass on, or discover a
connection you'd like to strengthen, ask for a business card and
permission to call at work. Then steer the conversation back to
more fun, personal topics. (Just remember to follow up

With preparation, you can enjoy meeting new people and
reconnecting with old colleagues in mutually profitable ways.
And you might just become as popular as Ol' Saint Nick.

About the Author

Business card expert Diana Ratliff specializes in helping people
be favorably remembered by important prospects. Shouldn't your
business card work as hard as YOU do? Get her ebook and
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Diana Ratliff