From accepting your office holiday party invitation to making the most of your connections, the holidays offer amazing opportunities for professional networking.
It’s the holiday season, which should mean lots of fun, joy, laughter, and office holiday parties right around the corner. Yet, a survey by human resources software provider TriNet found that a large majority of employees would happily trade their employer’s holiday party for other perks, like cash bonuses or extra personal time off. If you fall into this category, you might consider taking a different perspective and utilizing holiday gatherings as a way to network with co-workers, especially those you don’t know all that well. Plus, if you play your cards right, holiday parties could help advance your career. To get you into the spirit, here are some networking tips to make the most out of your office holiday party.
Accept the invitation
You’ve probably heard about the power of saying yes. In this situation, it rings true. When you get invited to a holiday gathering, whether it’s a department happy hour, the company holiday party, or even dinner at your spouse’s boss’s place, just go for it.
Your brain might immediately think about all of the reasons why you don’t want to do it, but stop and think about the good possibilities. The best way to find new connections — and strengthen your current ones — is to get out and spend time with them in an informal setting. Saying yes is just the first step.
Be prepared with a game plan
Once you let it sink in that your company holiday party could be a great way to network and advance your career, give some thought as to your plan of action.
Will you take a date?
Who will you attempt to speak to?
How many business cards will you take?
How will you take notes discretely if you desire to do so?
Don’t fret — all of these questions are addressed in the following tips.
I used to hate the expression: “Elevator Pitch” − it just drove me crazy. But everybody is using it all over the world, so I now give up − I’m going to go with it!
The expression developed from the idea of literally being in an elevator with only one minute or less to say who you are and what you do. What would you say? I want you to keep in mind that your elevator pitch is not a sales pitch . . . it is a creative and succinct way to share who you are and what you do that generates interest in the listener.
With that in mind, here are Ivan’s 5 rules for an engaging Elevator Pitch:
1) Don’t do your pitch in an elevator! The elevator pitch is meant to be taken out of the elevator and into the real world. And, although you must practice it carefully to be able to present it cohesively and professionally, you also need to be natural. You want to rehearse not sounding rehearsed, if you know what I mean. I’m sure you’ve all seen people who, when they do theirs, you can almost envision them as being back in that elevator: you just press a button, and they are off! You want to avoid sounding staged and canned.
2) K.I.S.S. Keep it simple. Don’t try to explain everything you do in the short amount of time allotted. It will either be too much information or be too vague to be of any value. By keeping your elevator pitch simple, you have more of a chance to catch the listener’s attention, engage them with your creativity, and create interest in your product or services.
Business Networking is a really valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, attain new clients and tell others about your business.
I highly recommend business networking as a way to gain new clients and to build a sustainable business. Here are the top 9 benefits for business owners of getting involved in networking:
1. Generation of referrals/Increased business
This is probably the most obvious benefit and the reason most business owners decide to participate in networking activities and join networking groups.
The great news is that the referrals that you get through networking are normally high quality and most of the time are even pre-qualified for you. You can then follow up on these referrals/leads and turn them into clients. So you are getting much higher quality leads from networking than other forms of marketing.
The increase in business from networking is the major advantage, but there are many others as well.
With a motivated group of business owners comes an abundance of opportunities! There are always lots of opportunities that come from networking and in fact this is where the benefits of business networking are huge!
Opportunities like joint ventures, client leads, partnerships, speaking and writing opportunities, business or asset sales… the list goes on, and the opportunities within networking are really endless.
Just make sure you are jumping on board with the right opportunities and don’t go jumping into every opportunity that comes your way. The opportunities that you get involved in should align with your business goals/vision, otherwise you might find that you are spinning your wheels chasing after opportunity after opportunity and getting nowhere.
Business networking can benefit your business in so many ways. Give it a try and reap the rewards for yourself.
Business networking can benefit your business in so many ways
“It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know”. This is so true in business. If you want a really successful business, then you need to have a great source of relevant connections in your network that you can call on when you need them.
Networking provides you with a great source of connections, and really opens the door to talk to highly influential people that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to easily talk to or find.
It’s not just about who you are networking with directly either – that person will already have a network you can tap into as well. So ask the right questions to find out if the person you are networking with knows who you want to know!
Having like-minded business owners to talk to also gives you the opportunity to get advice from them on all sorts of things related to your business or even your personal life and obtaining that important work-life balance.
Networking is a great way to tap into advice and expertise that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get hold of. Just make sure you are getting solid advice from the right person – someone that actually knows about what you need to know and is not just giving you their opinion on something that they have no or very little experience in.
5. Raising your profile
Being visible and getting noticed is a big benefit of networking. Make sure you regularly attend business and social events that will help to get your face known. You can then help to build your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person by offering useful information or tips to people who need it. You are also more likely to get more leads and referrals as you will be the one that pops into their head when they need what you offer.
6. Positive Influence
The people that you hang around with and talk to do influence who you are and what you do, so it is important to be surrounding yourself with positive, uplifting people that help you to grow and thrive as a business owner. Networking is great for this, as business owners that are using networking are usually people that are really going for it, positive and uplifting.
7. Increased confidence
By regularly networking, and pushing yourself to talk to people you don’t know, you will get increased confidence the more you do this. This is really important as a business owner, because your business growth is very dependant on talking to people and making connections.
Networking is great for people that aren’t confident as it really pushes them to grow and learn how to make conversations and lasting connections with people they don’t know.
I was certainly not confident when I started networking, in fact it completely petrified me! But as I do it more, the more confident I get and the easier it becomes, and the more benefit I get from it.
8. Satisfaction from helping others
I really love helping other people, and networking is a fantastic way that allows me to do this easily. Networking is full of business owners that have problems or issues within their business that need solving, and there is great satisfaction from helping someone to solve a problem they have and get a fantastic result from it.
Lastly, this one is more personal related rather than business related, but is a big benefit none-the-less. Many friendships form as a result of networking because (mostly) you are all like-minded business owners that want to grow your businesses, and you meet and help each other regularly, so naturally strong friendships tend to form. Some of my strongest friendships have been started from networking.
Rather than living fast and dying young, a surprising number of people are stepping into entrepreneurship in and around the period of their retirement and some post that!After all, their broad and deep knowledge, management experience, and large professional networks certainly gives them an edge at that age. Here are few reports which show why 50+ can be the best age to start a business:
According to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, that surveyed 652 US-born CEOs and heads of product development, “The average and median age of U.S.-born tech founders was 39 when they started their companies. Twice as many were older than 50 as were younger than 25.”