Christmas parties are not a traditional hothouse of good networking. Indeed, the accent can be much more on other things……like getting a bit “merry”; creating karaoke hell for other party-goers; falling asleep in the lift/elevator; or attempting to photocopy various hidden body parts for the embarrassing amusement of others in the months to come.
This is a pity because the sheer volume and concentration of partying at Noel offers much potential for those looking to make new contacts or refresh old ones. But there are some specific issues to address if we are to make the most of such gains. For those willing to give it a go, here are three pointers for capitalising on the merry mayhem of the season…that don’t stop you from enjoying the event. They apply to most seasonal business celebrations – whether internal or external.
Be the early bird…. being fashionably late to the average Xmas ‘do’ doesn’t tend to work if you want to network. For the obvious reason that latecomers will usually be faced with a wall of inebriation from people who will talk varying degrees of nonsense that they are unlikely to remember afterwards! Get there within the first hour and work as hard as possible before you and the rest of the party hit the wall.
Get invited to other parties – one of the most persistent moans is how ‘unjoined up’ are the various departments of many organisations. Clients often have complex needs that cross departmental boundaries and so which can remain unfulfilled, and opportunities to do more business with them are lost. Seasoned operators make sure that they get invited to or attend as many other parties as possible in the firm (as well as their own), where getting to know colleagues within them will deliver most return. The same goes for celebrations in relevant external organisations – in particular, those of other providers, suppliers to the firm, clients/customers, and so on.
Have an aim (or two) – this is one of the biggest universal truths of doing business and so it applies here. If you are networking, set yourself a few specific aims and achieve them early. Make sure that they are business-like and so very different to some of the usual festive ones (e.g. “meet at least two new contacts” rather than “sink as many tequila slammers as possible in the first 30 minutes”). That way something useful will be achieved…and you can then still enjoy the party.