What is the best way to gather clouds for making rain at a holiday party?

The holiday party season is upon us in full force. I just got back from attending a lovely party, and was truly impressed when watching a very savvy professional work the room.

When she came to me, I of course complimented her abilities, and she smiled. She asked what I did for a living, which I told her, and she concluded my training made me aware of what she was doing.

Of course, it started me thinking. How is the best way to gather clouds for making rain at a holiday party? I asked her, she laughed, and together we wrote a couple of ideas on a cocktail napkin.

Here they are, in no particular order of importance:

1. Decide if the event itself has rainmaking potential. Is there a way to know who will be there in advance? If so, are there people with whom you will definitely want to meet? What important points do you want to share with them? Outline them, make certain they are concise, and can be presented in a casual conversation, more than likely in front of a small group of others.

2. Have your elevator pitch memorized, along with your delivery for those people who may be unidentified sources of rain.

3. Do your best Bill Clinton. No, not that way…I am talking about Clinton’s amazing ability to make every person with whom he met feel as if they were the only person in the world at that very moment, and that what they were saying was important.

4. Remember that In Vino Es Veritas. Loose lips sink ships, and lips become loose because of the juice! You may gain valuable insight into opportunities by listening closely to what is being said, and because this is not a typical promotional/sales environment and there is eggnog, people may be freer to disclose needs or intentions.

6. Yes, people still have business cards. You should too. Handy. And a pen.

7. Do not park yourself in one place. Walk around the room. If possible get people you know to make introductions. When the conversation has hit somewhat of a lull, politely extricate yourself. Something like, “I am going to get a refill,” or “It was very nice to have met you, I see someone I wanted to wish a Merry Christmas to,” should work.

8. Subtlety is key. Don’t be aggressive in looking for new business or pushing for a meeting. Let it flow.

9. Follow-up. It is amazing the number of people who meet, have a great conversation, then drop the ball. If 90% of success is showing-up, at least 7 of the remaining percent is following-up!

10. Have fun. People like being around happy people. Don’t say things like, “Ugh. Another holiday party.” Be upbeat and optimistic, whether you feel it or not. My new friend confided in me that she left her comfortable heels in the office, and the ones she was wearing were designer torture devices making every step for her a new adventure in pain. I never would have known!

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