Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, social calendars fill up with fun. Everyone comes together to celebrate the season with holiday office parties, neighborhood mixers, volunteer opportunities, special church and synagogue services, business cocktail hours and more. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, the holidays are a wonderful opportunity to make merry—and to make new contacts and sales! So make the most of your merrymaking with smart tips on small business networking from the experts at Coffee News®.
Tip #1: Accept invitations frequently, and graciously.
We know small business owners are some of the busiest people on earth, and it can be tempting to pass on parties when you are already working around the clock. Make that extra effort whenever you can! Even a quick appearance can lead to making a profitable connection, and the gratitude of your hosts can also pay dividends down the line. And as a bonus, you’ll get a fun break from work.
Tip #2: Host at least one gathering.
You don’t have to throw a party in your home or business to host a party. If you are a member of local networking groups or community volunteer organizations (and you should be!), step up and commit to hosting or organizing the group’s event. This will show that you really care and give you an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership skills and attributes that will make people more likely to want to work with you or refer business your way. You will enjoy more meaningful interactions with members and guests during the event as well.
Tip #3: Make smart small talk.
As you work the room, make quick, casual cocktail chatter work for you and your small business:
- Ask open-ended questions. Questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” spark more interesting and revealing conversations.
- Listen attentively. Make eye contact and stay focused on each person you engage with. Loud or chaotic parties can make this difficult, but you never want someone you are talking with to feel you’d rather be conversing with someone else.
- Get contact information without getting pushy. If you make a connection at a party, ask for a business card or offer your own, or swap contact information electronically. Try to make the reason for wanting someone’s phone number or email a light-hearted and generous one – like sharing a recipe they admired or offering a discount on the services you provide.
Tip #4: Follow up with new contacts soon after the event.
Don’t let too much time pass before you reach out again. Reinforce your new connections while they are still fresh in everyone’s mind. Make plans to get together in the New Year and do new business together!
Tip #5: Remember that you are always representing your business.
When you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner, marketing never ends. You are always representing your business—so represent it well:
- Dress appropriately for the event. Whether it’s finding the perfect cocktail dress or the perfect tacky Christmas sweater, always dress to the occasion.
- Don’t overindulge. Know your limits, and respect them. Too many trips to the bar or buffet can keep you from making the right impression.
Tip #6: Give thanks and give back.
Always bring a host or hostess gift to any party you attend in someone’s home. Seek out the organizers of each event and thank them for your invitation and a wonderful time. Contribute to meaningful causes in your community by volunteering, offering free goods or services from your business, or making a charitable contribution. You’ll feel great, and building up stores of goodwill in your community is good business and good citizenship.
If you are a people person with some sales experience and a passion for helping your community, get to know Coffee News®. We’re the most popular restaurant publication in the world and a low-cost franchise opportunity made just for people like you!