Holiday Networking Events: A Seasonal Introvert’s Survival Guide
Are you an extrovert or an introvert?
If you answered “It depends on the situation” then you’re probably an ambivert. What’s that mean?
It’s like being ambidextrous. You’re flexible, depending on who’s around, and what the setting is.
Psychologist and author Adam Grant says about 60% of us are ambiverts, leaving just 40% of us to be strongly introverted or extroverted in most settings.
For long time, I was one of the latter. Almost fully extroverted in pretty much any situation.
Good thing! I was in a very public-facing job where it was important to meet a lot of people and be engaging.
Now, I’ve discovered that I’m a “Seasonal Introvert.”
When the weather turns cold, and all the leaves are gone, and the day is dark by 5:30 p.m., all I want to do at the end of the day is curl up on the sofa with a warm dog and a good book.
Ohh, do I get you now, my introverted friends.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Once I get out the door and I’m at the event, dinner, holiday party, mixer, luncheon or other networking event, I’m as happy as ever to meet new people and reconnect with old friends.
But it really got me thinking about the strategies I use during the cold, dark and dreary season to GO PLACES. I think they’re useful to my fellow “seasonal introverts” and anyone else who has introverted tendencies any time of the year.
If you’d rather be under a pile of blankets all winter or if you just feel overwhelmed by the holidays in addition to all your other businesses and job responsibilities, try these networking tips.
Trick, Commit, or Treat Yourself
Pretend like you’re going on a necessary errand.
It seems like every drive takes longer when it’s dark during rush hour traffic. If I’m going to a 5:30 p.m. networking event, it seems much easier to leave a few minutes early and swing the post office, a nearby store… anything to break up the drive.
Plan to meet someone at an event.
Invite someone else and make them promise to be there! That way when you feel like brushing it off, you’ll go because you know the other person will be expecting you.
Allow yourself to attend only a few choice events (see below).
Put them on your calendar and when you don’t feel like going to one, remind yourself that you chose to do this and there are only a few. If you miss one, you’ve skipped out on a big opportunity.
Treat yourself and grab a plate of goodies first thing!
Usually, that’s a networking no no. I rarely eat at a networking event – not because I’m some modern day Scarlett (“a lady should never eat in public” what??) but because I don’t want to have to juggle plate, business cards, napkin, and a handshake all at once!
But for the holidays, if you need the bribery, give yourself the okay to head straight for the catering, load up, and hunker down in a corner to reward yourself for getting there in the first place.
Just don’t spend the whole night tearing through the canapes. You might notice that some people make this their standard networking event style… and then they wonder why they don’t make a lot of great connections at events!
Give yourself permission to only talk to nice people.
This should be a rule you apply all year round, but especially if you’re struggling with wanting to go somewhere.
If someone is being pushy about selling, won’t let you get in a word, or is behaving in an inappropriate manner, all you need to do is say “Will you excuse me?” and walk away.
Don’t wait for them to stop talking. Raise your voice to talk over them if needed and just say “Will you excuse me?” and immediately leave them. Don’t wait for them to reply or ask why.
Don’t worry about what they think. If they are that clueless, they’ll hardly know you left. If you are concerned about hurting their feelings, remember that they were treating you with disrespect.
You need to protect and respect yourself and your boundaries. Especially if they touch you inappropriately or say things that made you feel uncomfortable.
Slow Down, But Don’t Stop
It’s really tempting to “take a break” from networking while you’re trying to deal with other things.
For most of us, a strong network doesn’t happen because of one, huge epic circumstance. It’s made from hundreds of small, seemingly ordinary interactions that place take over time.
Because of that, each individual event or meeting or connection doesn’t seem very urgent or important. So it’s easy to put it off, push it back, skip the meeting this one time … or just put it off until after the holidays.
But if you stop entirely, you’re going to have to work up a lot more momentum to get going again in January. Maybe you’ll make a resolution! Which you’ll feel bad about not keeping…
The longer you stop any habit, the harder it is to get going again.
It’s like pushing a stalled car… as long as it’s moving just a little bit, you can get it going faster with a lot less work than when you first tried moving it.
Still considering a total break? Consider doing your future self a favor.
By doing just a little something to get out of the office, keep your relationships fresh, and stay active and visible over the holidays you’ll have a much easier new year.
If you’re going to cut down on the networking events you go to for the season, here are three of the best types of networking events to attend.
The company party:
It’s probably not an option to skip it unless you miraculously come down with the flu. In front of the whole office that morning. Don’t wish for that!
You want to strengthen the relationships you have with the people you work with all year long. If your company holiday party is the kind where more bad feelings than good come out… well, make the rounds as swiftly as you can and the leave as soon as it’s polite. If you talk to almost everyone, they won’t feel like you “ate and ran” (even though you did).
The annual chamber of commerce Christmas/holiday mixer:
If your chamber is anything like the one I used to run events for, the December after hours event was one of the best of the year.
I specifically picked a host who loved to throw parties, serve tons of food, and who had built-in door prizes galore (thank you Sam’s Club of Fresno).
Once again, bribery works for little and big kids!
Your association holiday luncheon:
Many chapters take the opportunity to bring in an inspirational or just for fun speaker for their December luncheon.
It’s a time to celebrate and relax rather than try to get one more heavy learning topic in before the end of the year.
These are just some ideas to help you keep your networking going during the holidays. I hope you find this useful. If you’ve got questions or additional tips, feel free to post them on my Networking Motivator page.