The round of christmas work parties has definitely started. The question is are you a bit ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to festive networking? Or are you in festive party heaven? Here is my guide, with a sprinkling of sober advice, to help even the most reluctant and ‘bah humbug’ of networkers to get the most amount of enjoyment, fun and benefit from networking over the season to be jolly.
1. You don’t need to go to every christmas party or drinks invitation
There is a lot of pressure to be ‘social’ at this time of year. Is it just me, or do people in business have a sense of duty to be ‘out there’ and ‘seeing people’, just because it is the season of goodwill? There is absolutely no pressure on you to do more networking just because it is christmas. My view is, take the same care and attention, that you would do in the rest of the year about where and whom you will spend your festive networking time with.
2. Stay within your limits
With all the free booze and bonhomie, you can be forgiven for overdoing it a little when you network at christmas. I feel such a killjoy for saying this, (bah humbug and all that!) but people do have long memories so make sure your behaviour stays the right side of acceptable. I remember being the only female representative at my networking group’s christmas dinner a few years back. Let’s just say it is NOT an experience I want to repeat. The beer and wine fuelled behaviour shone a very different side to my dinner companions that evening. Of course, relax, have fun, let your hair down, but don’t do anything which you and your reputation for years to come may regret.
3. Stay open for networking
This may seem as if I am contradicting myself, however, the festive season is one of the best opportunities, you may have to get in front of the really hard to get to decision makers. Senior people in firms do come out to play at their christmas staff party. (After all, they need to be seen to be having fun…) Don’t ignore these opportunities to get noticed by the right people in your firm. Of course, now is not the time to really talk work – particularly if you are in the middle of the dance floor – but take the time to have an enjoyable conversation.
4. Give yourself time to recover and recuperate
A few weeks ago everyone I spoke to seemed to be tired. (Me included). I don’t think that it is a coincidence but I am hearing of so many people now being under the weather. Summer was a long time ago, and it is evident that many people are ready for a break. Be kind to yourself at this time of year. If you are going to be out late burning the networking festive candle, then give yourself a late start the next morning. There is nothing worse than trying to be productive when you are tired and hungover.
5. Leave when you are still having fun
It doesn’t matter whether you are an introvert like me, but it doesn’t take much for most people to go from “I’m loving this” to “get me away from all these people”. When I get into the “run away” state, my enjoyment reduces drastically. It doesn’t make me a fun companion either! Therefore, I have a cardinal rule that I always leave whilst I am still having fun and have good memories of the evening. Yes, you may miss the drunken conversations at 2 am in the bar, but it means you have an enjoyable evening and a somewhat smug expression the next morning! If you have found this article useful, then buy or download yourself a copy of my best selling and award-winning book the FT Guide To Business Networking. The 1st edition has over 110 five star reviews, and the 2nd edition has been recently published. What are your favourite festive networking tips?