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The Master Networker
THE MASTER NETWORKER

Seven Tips for Networking Through the Holidays

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Use your holiday merry making as an opportunity to connect with people that can help make you a success. These networking strategies should help get you started.

Bring back the pre-party!

Whatever inspiration you want to draw from your crazier college days is up to you, but the idea here is that if someone else is throwing a great party next Saturday, use the evening's festive mood to your advantage! Call five people you know are going to the party and either invite them to meet at your place to go over together or have them meet you for a drink on the way over. Choose your mates wisely, and use this pre-party get-together to ensure you connect with some of your top targets for the night instead of running the risk of not getting to them at the crowded main event.

Hire a ride, or provide the ride

If you're going to drink at a holiday party, it goes without saying that you should call a cab to play it safe. But don't be afraid to supe-up the style. Hiring a chauffer will add a touch of class to the event, enable you to take a larger group of friends for eve-ending drop-offs, and is surprisingly affordable. Or, consider ditching the drinks and being a designated driver. You'll be offering a hugely valuable service, a currency that could definitely get you invited to a lot of parties!

In the season of giving, ask!

And what if you don't receive an invitation to that platinum-level party you've had your eye on? This is the time of year when everyone feels their warmest and fuzziest inside, so don't be afraid to call someone who's close to the host and say, "Hey, I'd love to go to that party. Can you get me in?" Sometimes audacity is the only way to get the audience you want.

Sing!

Call me old-fashioned, but I think a willingness to sing can be everyone's secret weapon during the holiday season. Show some holiday spirit and belt out the tunes! Don't worry about your voice too much. Instead, focus on how approachable you'll seem to everyone who sees you having a good time. Final Note: If you are the host (or at least have the host's ear), be sure to invite or hire a good pianist! The live ivory works best for group singalongs.

Activate your family connections

You're bound to see a lot of your family in the coming month, so it's no time to take for granted the people who like you, care about you, and will go to great lengths to help you succeed. First, make sure you're prepared to help them help you. Before you see them, schedule some time to reflect upon the one passion that deeply fuels you (your Blue Flame, I like to call it), your goals for the next 90 days, and the kind of people you need to connect with to be successful. Then put your desires out there to your family. After all your efforts to build relationships in the business sphere, you might be shocked by what turns up in your own backyard. Who knows whom your brother-in-law knows until you give him a chance to activate his network for you.

If this season's not in the cards, choose another

With all the parties to attend, end-of-year deadlines to meet, and the rush to gather gifts for everyone on their lists, people absolutely get lost in the clutter of the holiday season. It's no surprise that holiday cards get lost, too, if only in the piles of red and green envelopes everyone receives this time of year. That's why years ago I chose to stop sending out holiday cards, for these holidays at least. I've made it a habit to get in touch with people on their birthdays or anniversaries because people are much more impressed by what others do for them on their very own "special days." However, it's quite a lot of work to do this year-round. So I'll propose an alternative: Skip the cards this holiday season and pick another holiday in the upcoming year for sending celebratory mail. I have friends who send me an annual Halloween card, and since it's an uncommon practice, the gesture really stands out. Thanksgiving's probably not a bad choice, either, just to reach out and say how thankful you are for them and your relationship. There are many more fine days to reach out to your friends, though. Pick the one that works for you.

In your office, give what's really important

This year, try handwriting simple, heartfelt notes to your employees or colleagues as thanks for contributing to the success of your organization or as compliments on the special talents they possess. Your sincere thoughts will be more important and valuable to them, and more cost-effective for you, than standard gifts of 20 bucks each.

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Last updated: Dec 1, 2004

KEITH FERRAZZI

Keith Ferrazzi is the author of two NY Times best-selling books, Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back, and founder and CEO of consulting firm Ferrazzi Greenlight.




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