Christmas is the best time of year to meet new people and celebrate with old friends. New business owners would be wise to use the holiday cheer to make it easy to expand their networking circle. You never know who needs your business or can offer you a great service, and Christmas puts everyone in a big room and gives them a chance to get to know each other.

Season’s Greetings

Sending out Christmas cards is a great way to stay in touch with old friends and associates. Make it creative if you can, but don’t cross the line into informal unless they are going out to close friends and family.

Watch for Invites

Social Media makes it easy to find parties to attend. Big bashes will be tweeted about. Facebook allows someone to invite hundreds of friends to their events with just a few clicks. Maybe you haven’t seen them in years and just got added into a bulk list. Maybe they don’t expect you. No worries. No one is going to get tossed out of a Christmas party.

Hold Your Own Bash

Consider throwing a holiday party. Make it as unique and inviting as possible. This is especially good advice if you have your own employees. Year end is a great time to blow off steam and build better relationships with the people you trust with your business.

Don’t Be the Party Pooper

It’s supposed to be fun. If there’s a theme, follow it. Cocktail balls require a certain look. If you get invited to an ugly sweater party, you better find the ugliest sweater available. Office parties, open houses, and happy hours all call for different sorts of clothes and attitudes. Be nimble.

A Charitable Time of Year

It’s also the season of giving. Many parties will ask for donations to charity or hold a toy drive. Get in the spirit. You could even sign up with a local charity and seek donations as an icebreaker.

Pace Yourself

Being loose in social situations is great, but no one wants to decipher slurred speech or smell the aftermath of an upset stomach. If you want to start any business relationships, it’s important that you remain coherent and at least mildly professional.

Card Sharks not Welcome

Business cards are still a great way to give someone your contact information, but stuffing a bunch of cards into strangers hands isn’t going to get you anywhere. Talk to people, get to know them, and ask for a card so you can keep your conversation going. They’ll ask you for a card if they like you.

Don’t Be Shy

It’s all about interaction. Have something to talk about that doesn’t involve your business. Ask friends to introduce you to others. If you don’t know anyone, stick near the food table for ample opportunity and built-in topics for discussion like appetizer quality. If you spot a loner, go talk to them. Sometimes the best contacts can be a bit standoffish.

Pay Your Respects

Send thanks for any invite you receive. Make sure you find your hosts and express gratitude before leaving any party. Give them a small gift where appropriate. The host can become the bridge that gets you in contact with other attendees.

Keep It Going

Meeting a few people at a cocktail party doesn’t mean anything until you follow up. Remember, you aren’t looking for a quick sale, but a fulfilling business relationship. Also, it’s Christmas. Make an impression, but don’t expect to hear from anyone right away.

Spend some time with people you love, recharge, and get ready for a big year full of new opportunities.

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