Like gym memberships and Quality Street, networking is not just for Christmas. In the face of social media saturation, face-to-face is still the best way to start a sustainable business relationship. In fact any type of relationship that is not a bit weird.
In the maelstrom that is festive networking, here are ten tips that are not necking three vodkas and Red Bull before engaging with another human you don’t yet know but might want to.
Dress Up Nice
The first thing anyone sees of you is how you appear to them. Make the effort. Be immaculate. Wear colour. Ensure it fits you and suits you. Sort your shoes out. Have a jacket because it will be cold out.
Wear deodorant, pheromones need help.
Get In The Zone
Who does not want to feel the easy confidence of belonging from the start? Well, prepare for the event. Especially if it is a big one, like your work’s doo. When you walk into the room it should be exactly as you imagine and you should have visualised what you are going to do.
Stop visualising a mouse sneaking cheese from a trap: find a better metaphor.
Go And Say Hello
Go speak to someone soon you arrive and have a glass of Christmas Cheer in your hand. Maybe a mince pie. Just do it, they are bricking it as much as you are. Bond over your mutual fear.
“Do you think North Korea have a nuclear weapon?” is a poor opening line. “Hi, this is a terrific venue!” is just fine.
Say Goodbye When You Want To
Get over the notion that you have a responsibility for others if you want to move on. Don’t use elaborate excuses, just say it has been a pleasure but you are leaving Dodge. If you say you are going for another drink they may ask you to bring the bottle and you will have a “friend” for the entire night.
The above does not apply if you are talking to your partner, mum, or boss.
Power Pose It
Strike a balance between launching into Fairy Tale Of New York in the foyer whilst holding on to the ice sculpture of Rudolph and hiding behind the giant Nativity scene for an hour.
Stand straight, make eye contact, be impactful. When you feel a little bit overwhelmed fake it a bit until that passes.
Treat it all like it does not matter one bit, because it doesn’t.
People are fascinating, especially if you ask the right questions. Listen to every word, look for clues to their interests and make them feel good about themselves. Always be looking to steer the conversation to a place they like and find a way to get rapport.
Do you tend to talk a lot? Stop! Put a terrific question at the end of those statements.
Play Ping Pong
We hear so much about having two ears and one mouth and to use them in proportion but that’s nonsense: if there are only two of you in the conversation there would be a lot of silence.
Communication is a two-way process and like ping pong it’s rubbish with only one player. Sharing a bit of yourself can take you from likeability to trust, which is nice.
Do you tend to just listen? Start interrupting and saying stuff, you’ll enjoy it and nobody remembers much of it anyway.
This is the time of year when sensible colleagues are apt to deliver feedback that is neither needed nor wanted. After a few raspberry Proseccos and rhubarb gins there can be a tendency to overshare. Don’t do that.
An injury is sooner forgotten than an insult, so now is not the time to advise your colleague what the client thought at that meeting in September.
Don’t Be Miserable
A little bit of bah humbug can be amusing. The tradition of uncle Jim ruining Christmas playing the mouth organ after too many sprouts has legs for a minute or two. But reel it in before you start on how it is just a commercial enterprise, a waste of money and the world has gone mad.
And in that vein: Going To The Caribbean? A week or two in the sun is nice this time of year but don’t bang on about it.
Leave them Wanting More
Move on when the chat is at its peak, when you are rocking and rolling and have easy rapport. The only way is down after that and it all ends in disappointment. You are supposed to mingle in any event and it shows a great deal of confidence to exit when it all going well.
Tell them you will catch up later or assure them you will call.
Seriously, being the first to leave a great chat is a great way to make yourself a rare and memorable thing.
That’s it, go out and enjoy. One more thing: Mulled wine is alcoholic and dipping your finger into the chocolate fountain is not funny.