Don’t Be That Person: A Brief Guide to Holiday Networking

‘Tis the season to network! If you’re like me, your calendar is packed from November to January with mixers, dinners, galas, and fundraisers— each occasion allowing us to reconnect with peers and secure opportunities for the coming year. During and following these events, there are so many ways we can leave a negative impression in the minds of those we meet.

I’m sure your mother once told you that you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Generally, this is true and a fact we all must accept. When possible, its advantageous to do what you can to manage your own behavior to help mitigate this fact.

While social media is a powerful brand-building super hero, traditional word-of-mouth can be its kryptonite. All of the dynamic content in the world does nothing if a person or a group perceives you in real life to be a <insert negative adjective here>.

Here are a few ways to help you to avoid becoming that person at your next holiday gathering.

Not understanding boundaries. It‘s imperative that you respect other people’s boundaries—physical and verbal, For example, if someone physically takes a step back from you, that’s not an invitation to step closer. If someone is showing signs they want to end the conversation, that’s not a greenlight to keep talking. If you enter every conversation putting the other person’s needs first, you’ll likely save yourself any embarrassment.

Being a Real-Life Avoider. As our digital footprints continue to grow, we begin to follow more people online whom we’ve never met in real life. Should the opportunity arise that you’re in the same room with an online contact, say hello. If you’re following them on social media, most people understandably assume you like them. If you don’t care for this person, stop following them. There are ways to cyberstalk people without being connected.

Being a gossip. You never know who knows whom. More importantly, you never really know who’s loyal to whom. Avoiding gossip relieves you of having to know this. Find any excuse to exit if you find yourself in a conversation where tea is being spilled. When it comes to gossip, ignorance is bliss.

Being Too Eager Beaver. Be thoughtful about how you proceed following an event if someone doesn’t offer you their business card or ask you for yours. The missed opportunity to connect could have been completely unintentional, or not. If your gut tells you this opportunity is red-hot, send a LinkedIn note briefly reminding the person of the conversation and how to contact you. If they don’t connect or reply, move on.

Being too flirty. Avoid flirtatious behavior, even if another person engages in it. A business-focused holiday party is not the place for romance. The room has lots of eyes, ears, and judgmental minds. If things between you and another person are heating up, take it somewhere else before it becomes X-rated.

Not knowing your limits. It wouldn’t be a holiday post if I didn’t remind people about the dangers of failing to control their alcohol consumption. Most of the aforementioned pitfalls can be avoided simply by limiting your alcohol. There’s nothing wrong with a nip or two to calm the nerves. After that, stick to something without alcohol.

Hoping people forget about your embarrassing behavior is not a reputation management strategy for 2019 or ever! If you enter into every conversation with a fun, positive and helpful attitude, your online and real-life personal brand is likely to kick off the New Year on the right foot.

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