Most people view their busy holiday schedule as a series of social obligations that, while may be designed to promote good cheer, actually create more stress and exhaustion. One way to hype yourself up for such events is to use them to your advantage. The new year might be a good time to find a new job or get yourself involved in your community through a charitable foundation. If you are looking to get more out of holiday party hopping this year than a couple paper mustache-clad Instagram pics and a headache, follow these three steps to network your way to a successful new year at your next soiree.
Be ready to interact
Obviously, sitting in the corner on your phone is a big DON’T if you are trying to look approachable, but if networking is your purpose, it’s not enough to just stand there either. Open yourself up, have a smile and make eye contact so people will feel welcomed to chat with you. You might think you are really killing it at the party with a drink in one hand and a plate of cocktail meatballs in the other, but what happens when someone comes up to meet you. Your hands are full, you might have food in your mouth, and then it’s awkward for everyone. Stick to the simple rule of keeping one hand free at all times and that will help you not have to do that clumsy “my hands are full” motion when someone finally wants to shake your hand.
Show up prepared
If you plan to walk into each holiday party with more than the usual social agenda, you need to set that agenda in advance. While you’re getting ready, think about who you will see at the party and pick out the ones you would be especially interested in chatting with. Then, imagine how that conversation might play out. If you are interested in their industry or where they work, have a few bagged questions you can ask to open up the conversation. Also, be prepared to talk about what you do in a way that lends itself to other opportunities. For example, “I’m a software developer for a telecom firm, but I’m seeing more and more development opportunities on the healthcare side I think would be really interesting.”
Use your friends
If you are looking for an introduction, ask a friend to do it, and then return the favor. This is the essence of networking. Many times, at parties like these, groups of friends tend to stick together, but if you are looking to bring home some new connections, be the one that reminds your friends they are being socially annoying. Open up the circle and watch how big your network becomes right before your very eyes.