It seems like an alien concept – networking in the holidays.
Holidays are for relaxing, kicking back and forgetting about all those niceties and that salesy jargon. For sure, but it is also a time when people are feeling sentimental and you guessed it, a wee bit chilled.
Not to play on the emotions and feelings that come with this festive period, but it is nice to just connect with others on a more relaxed level but still keep the business doors open.
There are rules to networking in the holidays though so take a load off right now and prepare yourself for productive, yet somewhat toned-down networking sessions.
- Connect with the purpose of really finding out how that person is doing, how their year went and what they are going to be up to in the new year. There is no reason to always talk about business but invariably, the topic will come up.
- Gifts are a great way of saying thanking you and showing that you appreciate their business during the year. If you happen upon a new connection, have some small tokens ready to hand out and leave it at that. They will remember you more for that gesture than for your sales pitch you are tempted to rain down on them.
- Further to gifting is offering discounts, or new year opening specials. This gives them something to think about and indirectly a little planning will go on in their heads, whilst they take a mouthful of trifle. You can post these on social media platforms along with other inspirational and educational posts. Stick in a playful, “Reply with Happy New Year and you will receive x% discount” as a way of engaging.
- Festive get-togethers are great for networking and again on a more social and relaxed platform. Take advantage of the office function, that impromptu neighbour braai or an invite from a client for a quick last end-of-year drink. You don’t need to be all ballsy and in their face. Just chill and let the conversation flow. Less is always more in these situations.
- Host your own holiday party, and make it quite clear that it’s not a business party. Sometimes all people want to do is get to know you better so give them a venue, like your house, put some snacks together and a few drinks. Networking doesn’t have to be handing over a business card and talking about the ins and outs of your fiscal year.
- Listen more than you talk. It should be the rule of all connecting moments. We tend to just talk too much, most of the time. This doesn’t mean you mustn’t say anything. Ensure the conversation is a tennis game, back and forth. You give a little, they give a little. And, keep the topics to general, non-business areas, unless of course, they bring up business, then still keep it to a soft approach.
This is the time of the year to reflect so it’s always a good topic to bring up. You never know. You may just find a kindred soul who has had a similar year to you, and with whom you may not do business but who you may find a helpful muse in.