Gayle Hallgren-Rezac co-author, WORK THE POND!
Holiday season networking can help you overcome reservations you have about reaching out. One of the top questions audiences ask is, “How do I follow up with someone I haven’t spoken with in quite a while?” When you are looking for a job this becomes even more anxiety inducing — “They’ll think I am contacting them because I want something from them.” Well, you’re in luck. The upcoming holiday season is a great time to touch base with no agenda. You don’t need a reason; the season is the reason!
In some cases, a small investment is required for holiday season networking, but there is no better time to of the year to reestablish your connections, even your weak links. Here are some ways to reconnect with people over the holiday season:
Pump Up Your Card List
Send as many holiday cards as you can afford. Go through your database, stack of business cards, old address books and emails. Include a handwritten greeting to every person and don’t forget to give him or her a way to reconnect with you. Include a business card or a personal card. Go to www.moo.com and make up some very cool cards. Do it now as it takes a couple of weeks to have them shipped to you.
Go to all the events you are invited to this holiday season even if you don’t want to. Take the case of Marilyn, a caterer. She didn’t feel like going solo to a holiday party but she remembered the concept of The 100% Guarantee — do nothing and you’ve got a 100 percent guarantee that nothing will happen. So she bit the bullet, put a few business cards in her purse and called a cab. Two months later she ended up as celebrity chef on television. How did that happen? Marilyn met someone at that party, and, because she had a card, that person was able to contact her.
The Buddy System
If the idea of all this networking gives you hives, take a tag teammate to events. If the invite says bring a guest, do so! If the invitation doesn’t, ask the host if you can bring a guest.
A Time to Expand Your Network
Go to events in your community where you will have an opportunity to meet new people. Expand the depth, breadth and reach of your network. The good thing is that over the holidays a lot of these events — even those for professional groups — are purely social and fun. This is also a perfect time to volunteer to help out the less fortunate. You will meet amazing people.
No Coal from the Man in Red
Network in a way that makes a memorable impression on others. Practice Positive Networking®, it’s not all about you; it’s discovering what you can do for others. And, remember, if you are feeling nervous, our research shows that most of the people in the room — 80 percent — feel exactly like you. Make it a practice to always rescue wallflowers. That way there’ll be no lump of coal in your stocking!
The juggling act of canapés-wine-handshake is too much multi-tasking for most of us. Think how liberated you’ll feel if you go to an event and can circulate with your hands free. Save the rum balls and shortbread cookie raid for your visit to the relatives.
No Host Party
This will not cost you any money but it’s a great way to reconnect with ex-work colleagues, alumni and friends. Organize a holiday get together. Find a restaurant with a private dining room and book a table for about sixteen people—you want some critical mass. The restaurant will do a set menu. Make sure they include the tip in that price. Send out an invite and let each invitee know the cost per person. Your job is simply to act as the connector.
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