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Have Yourself a Merry Bit of Networking....

So, you're running through your days in December trying to get everything done for a very big, looming deadline, know as The Holidays. In between all the decorating, baking, shopping, etc, (oh, and trying to make progeress on that Must-Do list at the office as well), you're expected to actually be able to focus and enjoy a few social events this season!

Who has the time???

Well, maybe you're like me and have decided to save the hosting of a larger social gathering for a less stressful, busbusy time. But you still need to go to some to these, because. . . well, it's expected! So, here are some tips for getting the most out of those quasi-social/work-related, sometimes challenging "festivities" known as Holiday Parties:

  • Use social gatherings as networking opportunities. Have a good answer for the inevitable "What is it you do, again?" question: one or two sentences that succinctly convey what it is you do, and what excites you about it. Go ahead- prepare! You can think about these sentences while you're waiting for the cookies to come out of the oven or wrapping a present. Then practice in front of your cat, or in the shower. Try to "know" them so they sound natural, conversational, and not at all like you are giving a sales pitch or elevator speech. If you do a good job of this, your conversation partner (and it is imperative you think of him/her this way--not as listener or audience!) will ask some questions which you will answer. Then it's your turn to ask. Et voilĂ  - before you know it, you are in a conversation! And a connection has been made.
  • Be sure to right-size your message. Make the most of your once-a-year opportunity to talk to that elusive prospective client, the colleague you would like to partner with, the manager you want to impress. Everyone is in a rush this season, so don't feel you have to tell everything all at once. When conveying information verbally you need to be sure to give only as much as your conversation partner can digest. If you hit your main points, slowly and clearly, you will have a much better chance of being understood, and invited back for a follow-up conversation in 2012.
  • Try to relax. We all appreciate the person in the room who radiates calm and a sense of well-being, especially at this frazzled time of year. If you can stay centered, breathe and focus, you can be the one in the room everyone seeks out. A gift to them -- and to you!

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