Holiday Parties are a great event to meet new colleagues! They are great events to get to know people and expand your network with genuine connections. These events have to be worked tactfully though. Otherwise you can waste a great opportunity. There are only so many holiday parties in a year and the Christmas Holiday Party is a staple for most companies.
Yesterday I attended the Penn Club Holiday Party. I knew it would be a great event to meet young and old alumni that are part of the club. The younger alums provide a group of good people that are my colleagues and immediate network. The old alums provide me with a network of people that can mentor me and provide advice. This is the perfect case study around how to tackle holiday parties.
Before the event even started I reached out to a young alum, who works at the Penn Club, and asked her if there were any notable alumni that I should be aware of or meet. If you already have a connection at an event, i.e. an event planner or coordinator, ask them if there are good people to meet. They have the inside scoop on who are attending and can introduce you to them. She stated that she would introduce me to anyone I should know once the event started. This was the first step.
I show up on time to company, club, and networking holiday parties. Most people erroneously think that it's better to show up an hour or so into the event. By the end of the event, some good conversation and networking time is over or people have left or are inebriated. Use these opportunities to meet some new colleagues and add them to your professional network.
I arrived at the event at 5:05PM. It started at 5PM. I made sure that I was very punctual. What are the perks? The food lines are short, so you can grab something quickly. The bar is still full and no one is drunk yet. This is key because you don't want to meet new people that are too inebriated. The event wasn't too full yet. There were several spaces at tables where you could join a single alumni or a couple. I stood at a table that was near the bar and buffet. After about 5 minutes one older alum joined my table. He had been part of the club for 16 years. A few minutes later another alum that was a charter member of the club joined my table because he knew the first alum that joined me.
Remember that older alums go to events early. Young alums generally arrive later. I was able to talk with both of these alums for about a half an hour and make an authentic connection to them. As we stood there other alumni joined us and it became a lively table. BUT I made the best connection with the two alumni that initially joined my table. We had a very long and detailed conversation. I told the charter member that I could talk with his nephew about his new startup and learned about the other alumni's 13 books.
About 1.5 hours later, many of the younger alumni started to arrive. I knew three of them personally from previous events, so I talked with them for a while. Through these alumni, I met several other young alumni that I was able to make connections with. I ended up meeting 3 additional young alumni that were pretty cool! Many of the older alumni that I had met earlier had left by this time and the event was quickly thinning out. By the time, the open bar ended, most people were gone.
By coming early, I was able to meet older alumni and then by staying late, I was able to connect with the young alumni. Overall it was a successful party and I met a lot of people!