An introvert's holiday party survival guide
Chicago was blanketed with a fresh coat of snow on Friday. And despite the Midwest’s love-hate relationship with winter weather—more so hate, though I love the snow—there’s a bunch of holiday parties back to back. At a time when many want to hibernate in a blanket, kudos to you for getting up and going out.
I consider myself an introvert, so going to industry events is not exactly my cup of tea. But I have to go, because building a community is a key part of being a successful freelancer. You may bump into your next client or find a partner for an upcoming collaboration.
Networking is tough sometimes, so here are my tips for getting through it.
Get business cards: Order them in advance. Make sure they have your correct phone number, email, name spelling and social media handles. Only hand them out to people you want to connect with after the party. That way they won’t go to waste. Having a business card adds a professional touch, and it’s quicker and easier than giving someone your number in a loud party. I ordered mine from Moo.com, and I almost always get complimented on their quality.
Look up the guest list beforehand: If you can, look to see who will be there. Don’t go in blind. By doing so, you can conduct more purposeful networking. If there’s a publication you’d like to write for, check to see if one of their editors will be there. Look up some stories they’ve worked on to reference once you strike up a conversation. Walking around in a crowd of strangers can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be if you can rub elbows with like-minded people.
Bring a wingman/wing woman: Bring a good friend within the industry, preferably someone who’s a bit more extroverted than you. They may be able to smoothly introduce you to others you need to know. Also, it’s really comforting to be with someone who gets you. It’ll put you at ease when meeting people who don’t know you as well, and you can help each other steer the conversation if it gets dull.
Bring mints: This is self-explanatory. Don’t be the person with the bad breath talking closely to others in a tight space. Just don’t.
When in doubt, ask questions: If you ever get stuck in a conversation, ask more genuine questions about the person you’re talking to. People love to talk about themselves. It’s the subject they know best. Chances are, they’ll mention a topic in which you’re well versed, thus making it interesting for both of you.
Play fun music on the way there: It’ll get you in the spirit to socialize. I prefer Beyonce. “Flawless” or “7/11” do the trick for me.
What are your tips for mastering holiday parties? Leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.