For some, it may be a challenge to restrain yourself at holiday parties when you see
beneficial business networking opportunities for in a room. For others even thinking about business development at a holiday is difficult to imagine. No matter how you feel about it now – coming up with a strategy to make holiday parties into B/D opportunities should be your mind set. However doing this in a manner that is not considered rude, and in a way that keeps the fun in the holiday party is critical. There are ways to make holiday parties opportunities without being obnoxious and without being uncomfortable.
First, remember that all of the rules of social interaction your mother taught you still apply: don’t drink too much, don’t talk with food in your mouth, don’t monopolize the conversation, etc.
Second, do not assume that the people you desperately want to talk with are equally eager
to talk with you. Introduce yourself, then if the opportunity presents itself, explain briefly and concisely what you do. If the opportunity does not represent itself just ask the other person what they do. If appears that there might be a business match, say you would like to have a business conversation not at the party and ask if you could follow up. Then move on. If you are with a small group of people, change the subject to something everyone has in common. If you are speaking one-on-one, shift the conversation (perhaps to how you both know the host of the party) or move on and talk with someone else.
Third, never monopolize the conversation with your latest business exploits or engage in
name-dropping. It is transparent, and no one appreciates it.
Fourth, in general, do not talk about business (unless it is a business gathering, office
party, etc.). Remember, it is a party.
Fifth, follow up with the people who you agreed with to follow up with the next day.
Sixth, send a note or an email – a hand-written note is generally preferable – to those
people you would like to meet again for business conversations. Keep the note brief and direct: It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday at _______. I was the person who does _______, and I think I can benefit you in this way. I will call your office after the holidays to try to arrange a meeting to discuss _______________.
Above all, circulate and talk to everyone. You might meet your next big client unexpectedly. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter because you are attending a holiday party, not a sales call. Last but not least, leave the smart phone in your pocket or purse.