2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on holiday networking, but you may also want to check out all of our posts on holiday business etiquette.
Here’s today’s question: what are your thoughts about holiday networking? What kind of events (whether through your office, professional organizations, alumni connections, or even friends’ parties) do you think are the best for holiday networking — and what are your best tips for having a successful networking experience at a holiday party? Perhaps importantly in 2017: What are the boundaries of networking these days — do you avoid politics, for example? (A related Q: do you think networking at parties is ever crass? For example — you go to your mother-in-law’s party and groan when, say, a trusts and estates attorney starts hammering in how you need a will and should really call him! How’s Tuesday for a call?)
Some general tips on holidays and networking:
- Watch your alcohol intake, especially if you might be making or renewing connections in a professional capacity.
- If you’re at an office party, definitely take this opportunity to get to know other people in your company, and avoid the temptation to stick with your friends.
- As far as party-appropriate conversation topics — If you’re going to talk politics… do your best to be informed, and keep any anger to a low simmer. If you happen to be the kind of person who can’t stand politics and has avoided FB and the news since the election, and you find yourself in a conversation with people who clearly DO care about politics, just do your best to slip away into a new conversation — you are probably not well advised to admit that you don’t know what’s going on these days. (Along these lines, if you have a number of parties coming up, you may want to check out our post with tips for following current events, and considering signing up for something like The Skimm for at least the month of December, or check out some of their Skimm Guides to bigger issues.) You can also check out our post on how to negotiate conversation topics.
- Even if you don’t intend to network, definitely bring your cards with you! I always seem to be that person who shows up to events and realize I have three cards left in my wallet and left my card case at home. (Fun fact: when I was single I felt weird handing out my law firm business card for prospective suitors, so I bought special cards with just my first name and cell number on them. I jokingly called them my “playa” cards and felt so uncomfortable even having them that I wound up giving my husband my law firm card anyway when I met him.)
Let’s hear it, readers — what rules do you follow for holiday networking? Politics this year: yea or nay?
Picture via Stencil.