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Thanksgiving is on the horizon, which means that the holiday party season is just a step behind it. Once you hear Nat King Cole singing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire -- so Friday, basically -- get ready to be inundated with winter party plans.
Of course, the holiday party isn't just a chance to down some eggnog and sample gingerbread cookies. It's a prime networking opportunity. Here are some tips to help you network right this holiday season.
1. Be Interested
When networking, it's great to be interesting, but it's better to be interested. People love to talk about themselves and one of the best ways to establish a connection is to show some genuine interest in the life of your networking "target."
Before holiday parties or mixers, think of questions that can you can ask people you want to connect with, to get them speaking about their work, challenges, or experiences. After all, you can't know how you'll be able to help someone until you know about them and their needs.
2. Remember, Networking Isn't Just About Meeting New People
When attorneys think of networking, they often think of trying to connect with potential clients. That's definitely a goal to pursue, but it's not the only type of networking you can do. In addition to seeking out new clients, you can use holiday events to build rapport with your coworkers and support staff, to connect with other attorneys in order to grow your referral network, or to strengthen your relationships with existing clients. There's no need to focus in on only one type of networking, or to treat an event like a waste of time if it's not full of client prospects.
3. Do Your Research and Be Professional
You're successful because you know how to get the work done and how to do it well. The same should go for networking. If you're going to a holiday event that you think will be good for networking, do some research beforehand. Know who will be in attendance and think of ways to connect with them.
Also, no matter how festive the party is, keep it professional. That means maybe forgoing the ugly holiday sweater and not getting too tipsy off the hot buttered rum or mulled wine.
4. Circle Back
Follow-up is essential to successful networking, but you don't have to wait until three days later to get back in touch. If you've established a connection with someone, swing by one more time before you go, letting them know that you enjoyed speaking with them and hope to be in contact in the future. This follow up can help cement a relationship and leave them with a more meaningful impression of you.