‘Tis the season to…Network
To attend or not attend? That is the question.
Last week I wrote about dressing for success for your own company’s holiday party. I never happened to think, what happens if you are invited as a guest to someone else’s holiday party? Should you go? Will it be awkward because you won’t know anyone? What do you wear?
Well, the thought never really crossed my mind until I was asked to attend a holiday party with a friend. By holiday party, I mean a suit and tie affair. Being the socially savvy person that I am, I jumped at the opportunity. Yes, every girl loves to get dressed up and attend fancy events but the first thing that crossed my mind was networking.
Think of the endless opportunities. You are in a room full of complete strangers yet you are connected for a few hours for a single night. You have an opportunity to meet people of all job assortments and career levels to add to your networking profile – or your LinkedIn profile if you would like.
For the next week, not only will I frantically look for that perfect dress for a night of fine wine and dining but also the perfect conversation starter and the perfect tag line to make sure I leave a great impression.
My toolbox for success:
- Confidence is key.
- Be personable. Share your experiences both professionally and personally. Ask about where someone went to college, ask about where they grew up – you never know, you may find a connection that is deeper than just professional experiences. Most importantly, show that you genuinely have an interest in others first before sharing information about yourself.
- Make a very conservative fashion statement. Yes, it is a formal event but it is also someone else’s work event. Conservative is key. If you are unfamiliar with the culture of the company and the people, it is better to be more conscious of your fashion choice than not at all. Keep it classy.
- Do your homework. Networking is a skill and it takes some time to do your homework. Prepare talking points and have a mental list of the professionals that you really would like to make a connection with. In my case, I think I’m fine with meeting whoever comes my way – it depends how serious you are about the company or organization. If this company is at the top of your list, then hit the books heavily a few nights before the event.
Forbes really says it best:
If you’re attending a party thrown by a professional organization, look up the name of the group’s board of directors before the event. Those are the people you want to meet, because they are heavily involved in the industry and likely have a lot of useful contacts. Other key attendees are the party’s hosts. Like members of the board, they know most of the guests and can introduce you. Finally, think about who you met last year and put them on your list of people to chat with. Remembering someone’s name goes a long way.
Remembering someone’s name might lead to a new LinkedIn contact or a job referral in the future – the truth is you may not have the same career interests as the professional that you are speaking with. However, you really never how extensive their contact list is and who they know – a good impression could help land you the job of your dreams.
So the answer is as simple as this: by all means, attend.