• Do you have a marketing department holiday party in your future?
  • Maybe you're going to an event hosted by an advertising agency.
  • Perhaps you have an industry lunch or cocktail party on your calendar.

Here are nine tips to help you make the most of these events by making new connections and taking your current business relationships to the next level.

  1. Set a goal: Meet at least one new person at every event. This is a sure way to expand your list of contacts. Be open to connecting with all types of people. You never know when having a friend in the legal, tech or procurement departments could come in handy.
  2. Take full advantage of social media. You can learn a lot about people attending a holiday event by checking them out online. If you receive an invitation via Facebook or other social media channel, you should be able to do some personal research about others on the guest list. (Don't forget to check out LinkedIn to learn about their career history.) Knowing a little about other attendees will make it easier to strike-up conversations.
  3. Come up with some conversation starters. The biggest hurdle to meeting others is figuring out how to start a dialogue with them. Have some open-ended questions at the ready to get the ball rolling. Some seasonal ones include: 
    1. What holiday movies do you plan to see?
    2. What trips do you have planned for 2017?
    3. I need some interesting holiday gifts. Do you have any favorite stores?
  4. Don't be intimidated by rank. A holiday get-together is an ideal time to connect with senior leaders. If you're approached by one, don't shy away. Be thoughtful about what you discuss. Avoid “showing off” or making recommendations on how to improve the company or department. Use it as an opportunity to get to know them in a more personal and familiar way. Ask about things like kids, family, pets or holiday traditions. Remember: Don't monopolize the conversation or overstay your welcome. 
  5. Follow the ten minute rule. Holiday parties are fantastic opportunities to network. However, you can’t do that if you remain with a single group all evening. Make it a point to move on after ten or fifteen minutes and join a new one. Find it hard to break away? Use a trip to the bar or buffet line as an excuse to step away.
  6. Limit alcohol intake. Nothing stifles good conversation like too many glasses of wine. Know your limits and stick by them. Don’t chance damaging your career prospects with too many cocktails.
  7. Encourage people to talk to you. Wearing an interesting piece of jewelry, pair of shoes or scarf is a good way to get other people to approach you. Warning: Don't take this suggestion too far. It's probably a good idea to leave your craziest holiday sweaters at home.
  8. Help organize the party. If you’re new to a marketing department, company or organization, volunteering to help with planning, invitations or decorations is a great way to get to know a few people ahead of the event. It will help you avoid the awkwardness of walking into a room where you don't know anyone.
  9. Bring an interesting gift. If the event includes a “Secret Santa” or other gift-giving opportunity, select something “different”. Giving a gift with a story provides a chance to discuss it after it's been opened. 

Need marketing support during the holidays and beyond? Contact Carpenter Group to find out how we can help with your branding, digital marketing, social media, content, advertising and other marketing needs.