Believe it or not, the holidays are almost upon us and it is time to start thinking about how you can take advantage of networking opportunities during this festive time of the year. Networking is about building relationships and not about selling. The following are 13 dos and don’ts for networking during the holiday season and ways to use this joyful season to build and grow relationships that will ultimately lead to new business.
- Do have a plan when you go to networking events and set goals about how many people you are going to to. This doesn’t mean you have to or need to talk to everyone. It is better to have 4-6 meaningful than 20 insignificant introductions.
- Do have a memorable action statement so you are prepared when someone asks you what you do. If you are seeking a job, you can say that AND you should be specific about mentioning the type of job you are looking for and the skills you bring to the table. What makes you different than everyone else that may be looking for a similar job. This helps people to be able to help you and provide the right referrals to you.
- Don’t ask for a job or for business. You are building and cultivating relationships. People have to get to know you so they are comfortable making a referral or recommendation. You have to earn that right through making meaningful connections.
- Do use this as an opportunity to ask for advice about your target market. Use your time networking to gain some useful information about the types of people who may have an interest in your product or service and get informal feedback. People love to share opinions and this will help set you apart plus provide you with useful information for your marketing efforts.
- Do have a follow-up strategy in place for those you had more personal conversations with. Send a note and follow-up with phone calls and/or a meeting where it makes sense. Keep in touch after the holidays and always mention something about any prior conversations.
- Don’t send a blanket follow-up note. Write details about your conversation on any business cards you receive or on a small notepad so you can refer to these details in your follow-up correspondence.
- Do connect with those you meet on LinkedIn. This is a business network and you should use this tool to build your network.
- Don’t connect with people you meet for the first time on Facebook. Facebook is a social site and a place where you let loose a little more and may not be the best place for business connections, at least at first.
- Do be yourself and be authentic. People respond to those who are genuine and want to help people they connect with.
- Don’t do the obvious mistakes like drink too much, interrupt others and monopolize conversations.
- Do be friendly, but don’t flirt. People like those that are approachable, but if you are overly friendly you could be sending the wrong message.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral after you have had the chance to get to know someone and demonstrate your sincerity and work ethic.
- Do listen more than you talk.
The holidays are a time for socializing and getting to know people. Take advantage of this time to get to know some people, build relationships and gather useful information. Socialize, have fun, and network strategically!