With the Christmas decorations hung, venues booked and invitations organised, the networking season is now in full swing. In the social whirlwind that is December, your calendar will be packed full of festive events, all awash with business opportunities. As the mince pies, mulled wine and small talk occupy our evenings, now is the time to brush up on your networking skills, ready to leverage Christmas networking encounters into relationships that pay!
It is no surprise that developing relationships with key influencers in your industry can lead to opportunities in the New Year; however, networking doesn’t always come naturally. There are a number of strategies you can employ to not only enhance your networking skills this Christmas but also improve your bottom line. Here are 8 top tips to help you maximize the networking opportunities on offer.
- Do your research! Don’t hesitate to contact the event organiser beforehand and ask for an attendee list. Alternately, consider acting as a host. Offer to help with the name badges or registration. This will highlight any prospects worth approaching.
- Go into the event with a clear purpose. What outcome do you want to achieve? Is there someone specific you want to meet? If so, what do you know about them?
- Consider your opening line. Create a 10 second answer to the question “…and what do you do?” For example, “I’m a tax lawyer with ****** and I help my clients by doing all the heavy listing as far as their tax is concerned.’ Keep you answer short, simple and jargon free, which will encourage the other person to ask questions and dig deeper.
- Exchange business cards. Don’t just stuff their card into your pocket or bag! Look at it. It helps you remember their name and gives you something to talk about. Do not ask for their card if it is not of value to you, unless you want to ease your escape.
- Do not sell – nobody will buy! Attend the networking event to grow relationships with potential connections. Let them ask questions to develop interest in you and let them sell to themselves.
- Don’t talk too much, listen! Get the other person talking about what interests them. Make good eye contact to show your interest and that you care. Talking too much can dominate the conversation and is not reciprocal.
- Meeting people at a networking event is just the first step. Time spent networking is wasted unless you follow up. It takes effort to maintain your networks but a little time invested in following up networking contacts could pay off in the long run.
- Remember – what goes round comes round! Share information with colleagues across your organisation – not just in your department.