Rather than nurse a Jägermeister-infused hangover, in the hope of making a new connection for next year, I’ve stopped walking around town at Christmas time in a Santa hat sticking my business card to people’s foreheads. Instead I am finding out what is important to a few close people in the New Year, and taking a real interest in connecting them.
This time last year, I was walking through Buenos Aries listening to a podcast about blogging. The guy being interviewed said the simplest thing yet: “I blog to reply to the questions people ask me about my product” – boom! How easy is that? And there I was looking to come up with the next Clue Train Manifesto every week.
My point is writing something constructive, educational and helpful for the web means you are saving time and making a connection. There is a strong case that the value we create is directly linked to how much worthy content we can produce. I still have a long way to go, but these days I send people a blog about something, and that comes back to me, people share it and learn something far deeper about me than when I got the next drinks round in, which was not that often anyway…
I was at a Christmas networking event many years ago and was giving my business card to everyone, including the bartender, the toilet attendant and the waiter. After shooting the breeze with a guy and telling him how cool what he did was, he looked me right in the eye and asked me, "Are you sure you want me to call you on Monday?" What he really meant was "You are saying ‘call me’ because you don’t know how to say that you are not interested”. I thought, “Wow! I bet that guy has a lot more time in his day than most people.”
So, if you're thinking about networking opportunities this Christmas, here are my top five tips.
1. Don’t waste your time having your business card stuck to everyone’s forehead this Christmas; in fact, just forget selling for a moment...
2. Catch up with some people that you already know, maybe some contacts you haven't made as much time for recently as you would have liked.
3. Identify five people you really want to do business or work with and get time in their 2013 diaries now - they're probably free, but leave the first week clear.
4. If you are at a Christmas party, leave your smartphone in in your pocket/handbag. Always remember, Twitter and alcohol don't mix!
5. Reflect on your year and consider some of the great people you've met. Think about writing a round-up blog post and include some of them - and then let them know they've been included. It's a nice way of reminding them about you.
However you're celebrating the Christmas break, make it count - 2013 is going to be a cracker.
Bernie Mitchell is owner of Engaging People, an agency dedicated to helping businesses join the dots between what happens online and offline. He is also the organiser of a host of regular events and workshops, including TagTribe, the Late Late Breakfast Show and London Bloggers’ Meetup.