Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Holiday Networking Etiquette

By Karen Dodd on Dec 13 2010 • Filed under New Clients by Design

Christmas toast, networking etiquette

I recently picked up a magazine that is written for members of an (unnamed) direct sales organization.

One of the articles suggested if you are going to be hosting a family gathering over the holidays, that you turn it into an opportunity to further your direct selling business. The directive from one of the "top echelon" was that "if you really and truly care about those nearest and dearest to you, you will share your business with them "24/7." It was further suggested that you "leverage" the upcoming holidays to build your business. Hmm…I don't know about you but that strikes me as extremely inauthentic (at best) and highly dishonest and manipulative at worst!

On the other side of such advice, I recall a festive gala evening I recently attended with some of Vancouver's best connected and most powerful businesswomen. Prior to the sit-down dinner there was ample time for socializing and connecting over a stand-up champagne reception.

Now to some, I recognize that being in a room full of some of the most influential women in the country could be akin to shooting fish in a barrel, but I think it wise to consider the proper type of "networking etiquette" in similar situations.

I'm a people-watcher and while I was part of a small discussion group, I couldn't help but observe that virtually no business cards were being exchanged. Instead, the leaders and influencers in the room went from group to group, facilitating introductions and exchanging lots of warm hugs and handshakes. I watched many of the obviously more experienced members rescue wall-flowers or those who seemed unsure of how to connect with so many strangers.

When we sat down to our festive meal, an unofficial leader at each table made more introductions, singing the praises of each person's uniqueness to the other guests. We all engaged in animated conversations with our table-mates and the evening ended in lots of "it was such a pleasure to meet you; I hope we'll meet again soon." It wasn't until I was driving home that I realized I had actually only given out two business cards and both of them were requested by the other person.

Sometimes, networking isn't about "working" at all. Rather, it's about making sincere, relaxed and other-centered connections without being attached to any particular outcome. Even though 99 percent of the women at that event did not walk away with my business card (or I theirs) I was in front of, and connected to, approximately one hundred leaders of business and industry. I would like to think that some of them will remember me for the contribution I made to the conversation and the many points of mutual interest we discovered in each other.

If I considered my time and the rather hefty fee for attending the event based on return on investment (ROI), the evening may appear to have been a bit of a flop. However, when considered as an investment in myself and others, I walked away feeling it was a huge success!

Your Assignment Should You Choose to Accept It

This week's assignment is very simple. There is no shortage of pre-holiday business events to attend. Make a point of attending at least one of them. Go there with the intent of engaging in interesting conversations, introducing someone else and graciously "tooting their horn" on their behalf and just generally enjoying yourself and those around you. Let go of any business outcomes and don't even think about giving out your card unless someone asks for it.

I know that can seem a little unnatural but believe me, building meaningful relationships means letting go of what you would like to have happen in favour of making room for attracting wonderful new people simply based on who they are. It is a proven fact that we make connections – business and personal – based on six degrees (or less) of separation. And it starts by making friends one person at a time.

Until next time, remember to market authentically and attract New Clients By Design…but NOT by overtly networking during the festive season!





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