Networking Tips for Your Next Holiday Party

Networking Tips for Your Next Holiday Party

‘Tis the season for the holiday party. Whether you love the office mixer or dread another December full of evening obligations, you are likely going to a few seasonal get-togethers. Interested in spending that time wisely to further your career or business? Here are eight networking tips for your next holiday party:

1. Show up. 90% of success is showing up, right?

Some holiday events are basically mandatory, while others you may not HAVE to go to but you should. Yes, we are all busy, but many of these events only come around once a year and if you want to expand your network, show up. If you are unable to attend an event you are expressly invited to be sure to send a pleasant note that you can’t make it. Also, if the event has a charitable component (food drive, gift donation, etc.), consider still donating if you can’t attend, the host will be appreciative.

2. Have fun.

No one wants to hang with the sour-faced guy. If you really don’t want to be there, don’t go…however.

You don’t have to be the life of the party. Unless you are in the PR department, then promotion is your job!

3. When should I get there?

Like most things in life, it depends…Here are my guidelines for a few different types of gatherings:

Office Party

(informal at the office or offsite, during the workday or right after work)

Arrive on time and plan to stay for a couple hours or until the official end time. Don’t stick around too long.

Company Party

(more formal at a private residence or swanky establishment, evening start time)

It’s good form to be a little late to a company party being held at a private home. Like any party, your hosts are likely running a little behind and you being the first to show up isn’t a great look. Plan to stay for a few hours, but also try and be flexible with your curfew. If you are having a great time and bonding with new contacts, it’s a shame to have to leave just to get home for a babysitter that doesn’t really care anyway.

Client or Vendor Party

Totally depends on your relationship — if you are going to do a flyby and not stay very long, try and add a few extra minutes so it doesn’t seem like you are in and out. Make a point to connect and say hello to the person that invited you as soon as you can.

4. Participate and dress appropriately.

Participate? Many holiday events have a theme or predetermined activity. If the event is an ugly sweater, wear your ugliest. If it’s a food or toy drive, bring a donation. Secret Santas and White Elephants are fun, try and plan ahead a little so you can have a good gift.

If you don’t know the attire ask someone who has gone before or use a little common sense based on the time, location and culture of the host(s).

Phyllis from accounting

© NBC Universal, Inc

5. Talk to NEW people, including +1’s

You can always plan an after party with your bros…or really, you probably see them enough the rest of the year.

Since you’re reading this post, I assume you’re interested in networking. If so, get outside your inner circle and meet new people. The holiday party is a great way to get to know your boss, Phyllis from accounting or the new intern. Not only is it good form to engage with your co-workers’ guests, you may find a great connection outside of The Office.

5a. Ask questions and actually listen to the answers.

Don’t expect to know what to talk about offhand. Have a variety of topics ready to go and spend a little time thinking about what you’d say. If someone asks you a question, answer and reciprocate. Here are a few suggestions for non-worky topics:

  • What’s the best book you read this year?
  • Do you listen to podcasts? What are you currently listening to?
  • Christmas Story or Christmas Vacation?

The list can go on and on, talk about what you are interested in. TV shows, sports, holiday travel plans, etc. It is ok to get intimate and into a real conversation, at least for a little while, but probably best to avoid politics.

6. Have an exit plan.

When it is time to go (see #3) be sure to find the host to thank them and say goodbye. Also, if there is a party planning committee, thank them and consider a thank you gesture because putting on these events is a lot of work. You can also follow-up with an email or handwritten note. If you feel like you need to sneak away, you are leaving too early.

Office Christmas Party

Glen Wilson / Paramount Pictures

7. Know your limits.

What list of holiday networking tips would be complete without this one? However, there seems to always be a few partygoers that hit it a little too hard. If you do need to get your drink on, save it for the after party or grandma’s house. That way you won’t end up like Clay and Walter at ZenoTek.

 

BONUS HOST TIP: Have plenty of non-alcoholic beverage choices. While everyone wants to have a good time, not everyone wants beer, wine or…water. This also goes a long way in helping people stick to their limits. Most people want to have a drink in their hand and if there are lots of options (a signature booze-less drink perhaps) they aren’t as likely to overindulge.

8. You are an adult, get home like one.

Featured image courtesy of AMC

10 Networking Tips for Your Next Industry Event

10 Networking Tips for Your Next Industry Event

Ok, so some of us like networking, but really most of us would rather do something else. I’ve been networking as a part of my job for nearly 15 years. Here are ten of the networking tips I’ve discovered over that time:

1. Do not go with a buddy.

Networking Tip #1 - Don't go with a buddy

Photography by The Eye Of Odin

I know having a wingman is fun, but I’ve found them to be more of a crutch. If you go with a friend or colleague you are pretty likely to just hang with them instead of meeting new people (aka networking). Now you can’t always determine who will be where and you may not have a choice. In this case talk about it ahead of time and make a deal that for the first hour you will go in different directions.

2. Be a connector.

It is all about the new person you’re meeting. The more you give, the more you get. I never enter a conversation with someone new thinking about what they can do for me. It’s always what I can do for them. How can I help them? I would rather recommend or introduce them to a new relationship than the other way around. Know that you will not close business at a networking event. Just start the relationship.

3. Do your research.

This is especially relevant for industry events and conferences. Many conferences have online groups (Facebook, LinkedIn or their own specialty platforms) created so that attendees can connect before an event. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to find a dinner mate or someone to check out the sites with. If you follow tip number one you are going to need to find people to hang out with anyway.

4. Practice your pitches.

Seriously, practice them. But only enough that they don’t sound rehearsed. You should have three pitches or responses to questions in mind:

What do you do?
– I have a PR & digital firm called Veracity
What type of clients do you work with?
– Real estate & development, foundations & financial, health & hospitality, and a ton of events.
A third option.
BONUS: One of my new favorites, the Pixar pitch
Rooftop Tip #5 - Be Engaged

Photo courtesy of Nina Johnson Photography

5. Be engaged with the person you are talking with.

Have you ever been talking with someone and they are looking around the room? Presumably looking for someone better to talk with. Don’t be that guy. If you have discovered that your current conversation isn’t going anywhere, politely move on. Remember we are all equals.

6. It’s ok to talk about irrelevant things, but please don’t talk about the weather.

It is even better to have something topical to discuss. For example, ask and give your thoughts about the presentations you just saw at networking events following the conference.

7. Have an exit strategy (I am horrible at this one).

If you are using #2 (be a connector) the ideal strategy here is to introduce them to someone you think could benefit from the connection and then politely excuse yourself. It’s a win-win. You haven’t left them stranded alone at the party, you’ve connected them with someone else and now you’re free to move on.

Networking Tip #8 - Don't Drink Too Much

Photo courtesy of Nina Johnson Photography

8. Don’t drink too much.

Yeah, this kind of goes without saying, but come on. A networking event is not a Bachelor Party. Yes, there will be drinks and yes, “getting another drink” is a good way to get out of a conversation but make it a water or use a different exit strategy like grabbing a snack or taking a potty break.

9. Follow up.

There’s no point in connecting with someone and then failing to follow up. How you follow up is going to depend on how you do business. Ideally, this is the next day or at least within a week. You WILL NOT remember the little details of your conversation for very long, so you should make notes as soon as you can. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Send a LinkedIn invite. Be sure to reference the event and ideally the conversation you had.
  • Make the connection you mentioned. Did you know someone they could benefit from being introduced to?
  • Send them a blog post (ideally one from your company) relevant to what you talked about.
Networking Tip #10 - Have Fun

Photo courtesy of Nina Johnson Photography

10. Have fun.

Not only does it suck to be somewhere you don’t want to be or do things you don’t want to be doing, it shows. No one wants to talk to the person complaining about everything or the grouch who obviously doesn’t want to be there. If you aren’t feeling it, maybe take a pass.

Okay, now you are ready to conquer the world or at least have a good time. If you are headed to the SEMpdx Rooftop Networking Party, here are some tips specifically for that event.

Going to the SEMpdx Rooftop Networking Party? Be sure to read my Rooftop Networking Tips for 2017

 

In an effort to ensure you follow tip #10, stop by the Veracity Game Zone for giant Jenga, Connect Four and cornhole!

 

Bonus tip #11, smile for the camera! Feature photo courtesy of Nina Johnson Photography
Hot Summer Nights! Rooftop Networking Tips for 2017

Hot Summer Nights! Rooftop Networking Tips for 2017

Updated Rooftop Networking Tips – 2017 | featured image courtesy of Nina Johnson Photography

Originally written in 2014, updated last year and again for 2017. Many of the tips have evolved a bit, just like the event. While it isn’t supposed to be over 100°, it will still be a hot summer night so I’ve included tips for keeping cool as well.

Top 12 Tips for a Successful SEMpdx Rooftop Networking Party:

1. There will be games this year along with an amazing sponsor for those games!

This is the six 8th annual rooftop party and we are back the original venue. Be sure to head to the Hotel deLuxe and join us on their garage (across the street from the hotel). Check out the new Veracity Game Zone featuring giant Jenga, Connect Four and my personal favorite cornhole.

2013 SEMpdx Rooftop-overview crowd

photo courtesy of Eye of Odin

Check out the promo video from 2014 courtesy of Bruce Sussman:

2. Dress Your Coolest (in temperature and style)

If you are going to wear a company shirt, may I suggest pairing it with a sport coat, Don Johnson style. Remember it could be hot…are you a graphic t-shirt guy, a Hawaiian shirt aficionado, always wear a plaid shirt (as Scott Hendison says I always do) or sun dress wearer? Regardless you may want to keep the following in mind:

  1. It will likely be pretty warm. You may look good in black, but do you also look good in red (think sunburn).
  2. You still have time to find the perfect sunglasses and/or sun hat (or SEMpdx Trucker Hat like David Mihm).
  3. SEMpdx Rooftop 2013 ladies fashion

    photo courtesy of Eye of Odin

    Look your best! This event has been featured on KGW’s Live @7 several times. You never know, you might get on TV, so you’d better dress to impress!

3. Don’t Expect a Band

We had a band one year (2010 I believe), it was a great band (Donerail…well maybe not that great since they are no longer) featuring search marketing industry players…however, we learned this event is about the people attending and went back to a background DJ. 2017 will feature DJ Chad Smith (hmm, is that my cousin?)

4. It is NOT a Dinner Party

Yes, there will be food and yes you can make dinner out of the food that is provided…however at $20, including drinks (at least two depending on what you are drinking thanks to sponsors The Growler Guys and Three Rivers Winery), don’t expect a five course dinner. Make friends and go to dinner with them afterward. Heck, use Yelp Portland to find a space, they’ve sponsored in the past!

Here is a sneak peak at the taplist from The Growler Guys:

  • Laurelwood Workhorse IPA
  • pFriem Helles Lager
  • Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
  • Sunriver Fuzztail Hefeweizen
  • Founders All Day IPA
  • Firestone Walker Pale 31

5. If You Need a Job, Get a Job!

Several job seekers have landed careers (not just jobs) at the Rooftop Networking Party. One of them, Robert Frost, is a member of the SEMpdx Board of Directors. He got his job at EngineWorks (which was then acquired by ethology) as a direct result of meeting people at this event. Say hi to Robert (see #9 below), I doubt he’s missed a Rooftop since. Agencies (as well as in-house positions) are hiring.

6. Bring Your Business Cards

SEMpdx Rooftop 2013 biz card

photo courtesy of Eye of Odin

They may be passé, buy you can win prizes! Even though many digital marketers are so over business cards, bring em! You will want to drop them in the bowl for a chance to win a variety of prizes from the party sponsors (including a ticket to 2017 Engage Conference) and many owners/managers expect you to still have one (see #5 above).

7. Take the Stairs?

Will you get stuck in the elevator? Probably not. Do you want to get stuck in the elevator? Probably not. However, if you want to take the risk it would be fun anyway, just take event sponsor Webfor‘s word for it: Stuck In An Elevator And Other Adventures In Team Building.

8. Do Expect Good Beer

We are in Oregon, we have to have good beer. The Growler Guys will be bringing the craft brews. Check out the list above.

9. Buddy Up with SEMpdx Board (they always have extra drink tickets)

Portlandia-SEMpdx-Board

SEMpdx 2013/14 Board of Directors

It’s a friendly group and they would love to tell you about SEMpdx and the monthly educational events we host, and Engage, and our Charity of Choice program…the best late night happy hours places near by…but maybe more importantly, they tend to always have extra drink tickets.

10. Support the Sponsors

Seriously, it is $20 (unless you foolishly wait), we wouldn’t be able to have ticket prices this low without sponsors. They also kick in great door prizes, provide some shade with their tents and have great products and services. That one extra sale or ‘thank you’ from an attendee may make the difference to sponsor again. Upsource is the presenting sponsor this year,  Logical Position is the platinum and photo booth sponsor.

The Growler Guys, Webfor, Oregonian Media Group and Three Rivers Winery are Gold Sponsors. Idealist Consulting, PSU’s Center for Executive and Professional EducationOSU Professional and Continuing Education, AMA PDX, Portland Business Alliance, SakéOne, and PDX Pipeline are all sponsoring too!

Plus+ visit the new Veracity Game Zone featuring giant Jenga, Connect Four and a couple of cornhole sets.

11. Learn Who the Charity Is

In addition to lots of exposure (like getting on KGW’s [email protected]) and free marketing consulting, SEMpdx will donate up to $5,000 to our Charity of Choice. We have had some worthy partners over the years and the Rooftop Networking Party has been a nice venue to get them some exposure and do even more good. Specifically, we’ve helped raffle of a Mini for the Children’s Cancer Association and collected 100’s of winter coats for the Portland Police Sunshine Division. Two years ago we helped the Brody Borlaug Foundation, last year Reading Results and this year it’s Schoolhouse Supplies!

SEMpdx Rooftop Coverage on Live@7

12. Get Your Tickets Early

So what are you waiting for? Even though event capacity is up, the party is sure to sell-out. Plus ticket prices go up on August 2nd.

Buy your tickets now!

I hope to see you all there in 2014 2016 2017 and years to come!

Featured image courtesy of Nina Johnson Photography
Rooftop Networking Tips – 2016

Rooftop Networking Tips – 2016

I wrote this post prior to the 2014 SEMpdx Rooftop Networking Party and now it is due for an update. Most of the tips have remained the same, but with a few minor (but major) updates (like the event venue). By now SEMpdx’s Rooftop Networking Party has built enough of a reputation for a periphery blog post about it…so here goes:

Top 12 Tips for a Successful SEMpdx Rooftop Networking Party:

1. Go to the Right Rooftop (we are back at Hotel deLuxe!)

This is the six 8th annual rooftop party and we are back the original venue. Be sure to head to the Hotel deLuxe and join us on their garage (across the street from the hotel).

2013 SEMpdx Rooftop-overview crowd

photo courtesy of Eye of Odin

Check out the promo video from 2014 courtesy of Bruce Sussman:

2. Dress Your Best

If you are going to wear a company shirt, may I suggest pairing it with a sport coat, Don Johnson style. Remember it could be hot…are you a graphic t-shirt guy, a Hawaiian shirt aficionado, always wear a plaid shirt (as Scott Hendison says I always do) or sun dress wearer? Regardless you may want to keep the following in mind:

  1. It will likely be pretty warm. You may look good in black, but do you also look good in red (think sunburn).
  2. You still have time to find the perfect sunglasses and/or sun hat (or SEMpdx Trucker Hat like David Mihm).
  3. SEMpdx Rooftop 2013 ladies fashion

    photo courtesy of Eye of Odin

    Look your best! This event has been featured on KGW’s Live @7 several times. You never know, you might get on TV, so you’d better dress to impress!

3. Don’t Expect a Band

We had a band one year (2010 I believe), it was a great band (Donerail…well maybe not that great since they are no longer) featuring search marketing industry players…however, we learned this event is about the people attending and went back to a background DJ. We still keep the music in the marketing family with Jonas Healy providing the groove that last three years!

4. It is NOT a Dinner Party

Yes, there will be food and yes you can make dinner out of the food that is provided…however at $20, including drinks (at least two depending on what you are drinking thanks to sponsor The Growler Guys), don’t expect a five course dinner. Make friends and go to dinner with them afterward. Heck, use Yelp Portland to find a space, they are sponsoring this year!

5. If You Need a Job, Get a Job!

Several job seekers have landed careers (not just jobs) at the Rooftop Networking Party. One of them, Robert Frost, just joined the SEMpdx Board of Directors. He got his job at EngineWorks (which was then acquired by ethology, who has sponsored the event each year in some capacity) as a direct result of meeting people at this event. Say hi to Robert (see #9 below), I doubt he’s missed a Rooftop since. Agencies (as well as in-house positions) are hiring.

6. Bring Your Business Cards

SEMpdx Rooftop 2013 biz card

photo courtesy of Eye of Odin

They may be passé, buy you can win prizes! Even though many digital marketers are so over business cards, bring em! You will want to drop them in the bowl for a chance to win a variety of prizes from the party sponsors (including a ticket to 2016 Engage Conference) and many owners/managers expect you to still have one (see #5 above).

7. Take the Stairs?

Will you get stuck in the elevator? Probably not. Do you want to get stuck in the elevator? Probably not. However, if you want to take the risk it would be fun anyway, just take event sponsor Webfor‘s word for it: Stuck In An Elevator And Other Adventures In Team Building.

8. Do Expect Good Beer

We are in Oregon, we have to have good beer. The Growler Guys will be bringing the craft brews. Keep a look out on SEMpdx’s Facebook page for announcement of what will be on-tap.

9. Buddy Up with SEMpdx Board (they always have extra drink tickets)

Portlandia-SEMpdx-Board

SEMpdx 2013/14 Board of Directors

It’s a friendly group and they would love to tell you about SEMpdx and the monthly educational events we host, and Engage, and our Charity of Choice program…the best late night happy hours places near by…but maybe more importantly, they tend to always have extra drink tickets.

10. Support the Sponsors

Seriously, it is $20 (unless you foolishly wait), we wouldn’t be able to have ticket prices this low without sponsors. They also kick in great door prizes, provide some shade with their tents and have great products and services. That one extra sale or ‘thank you’ from an attendee may make the difference to sponsor again. Moz is the presenting sponsor again, The Growler Guys is bringing the beer, Snap Yourself has the photo booth, Vacasa, Logical Position and Three Rivers Winery are Gold Sponsors. Webfor, Ethology, Tricor Brand Communications, AvenueAMA PDX, Portland Business Alliance, and Oregonian Media Group are sponsoring too!

11. Learn Who the Charity Is

10% of all proceeds from SEMpdx events go to our Charity of Choice. We have had some worthy partners over the years and the Rooftop Networking Party has been a nice venue to get them some exposure and do even more good. Specifically, we’ve helped raffle of a Mini for the Children’s Cancer Association and collected 100’s of winter coats for the Portland Police Sunshine Division. Last year we helped the Brody Borlaug Foundation and this year look for our new charity Reading Results!

SEMpdx Rooftop Coverage on Live@7

12. Get Your Tickets Early

So what are you waiting for? Even though event capacity is up, the party is sure to sell-out. Plus ticket prices go up on August 3rd.

Buy your tickets now!

I hope to see you all there in 2014 2016 and years to come!

Featured image courtesy of Nina Johnson Photography.
Rooftop Networking Tips

Rooftop Networking Tips

By now SEMpdx’s Rooftop Networking Party has built enough of a reputation for a periphery blog post about it…so here goes:

Top 12 Tips for a Successful SEMpdx Rooftop Networking Party:

1. Go to the Right Rooftop

2013 SEMpdx Rooftop-overview crowd

photo courtesy of Eye of Odin

This is the six annual rooftop party, but the second venue. Be sure to head to the Embassy Suite downtown and join us on their garage (across the street from the hotel entrance). The first four rooftop parties were held just west of downtown on the roof at Hotel DeLuxe. If you are curious why we moved the party, here are a few of the reasons:

  1. Capacity – we needed more room!
  2. Drink lines – we tried to figure out a way to shorten them…we did.
  3. Downtown is where the happenings are, just ask Bruce Sussman:

2. Dress Your Best

If you are going to wear a company shirt, may I suggest pairing it with a sport coat, Don Johnson style. Remember it could be hot…are you a graphic t-shirt guy, a Hawaiian shirt aficionado, always wear a plaid shirt (as Scott Hendison says I always do) or sun dress wearer? Regardless you may want to keep the following in mind:

  1. It will likely be pretty warm. You may look good in black, but do you also look good in red (think sunburn).
  2. You still have time to find the perfect sunglasses and/or sun hat (or SEMpdx Trucker Hat like David Mihm).
  3. SEMpdx Rooftop 2013 ladies fashion

    photo courtesy of Eye of Odin

    Look your best! This event has been featured on KGW’s Live @7 several times. You never know, you might get on TV, so you’d better dress to impress!

KGW.com

3. Don’t Expect a Band

We had a band one year (2010 I believe), it was a great band (Donerail…well maybe not that great since they are no longer) featuring search marketing industry players…however, we learned this event is about the people attending and went back to a background DJ. We still keep the music in the marketing family with Jonas Healy providing the groove that last three years!

4. It is NOT a Dinner Party

Yes, there will be food and yes you can make dinner out of the food that is provided…however at $20, including drinks (at least two depending on what you are drinking), don’t expect a five course dinner. Make friends and go to dinner with them afterward. Heck, use Yelp Portland to find a space, they are sponsoring this year!

5. If You Need a Job, Get a Job!

Several job seekers have landed careers (not just jobs) at the Rooftop Networking Party. One of them, Robert Frost, just joined the SEMpdx Board of Directors. He got his job at EngineWorks (which was then acquired by ethology, who has sponsored the event each year in some capacity) as a direct result of meeting people at this event. Say hi to Robert (see #9 below), I doubt he’s missed a Rooftop since. Agencies (as well as in-house positions) are hiring. Also, Mac’s List is a sponsor too, be sure to check out their listings too.

6. Bring Your Business Cards

SEMpdx Rooftop 2013 biz card

photo courtesy of Eye of Odin

They may be passé, buy you can win prizes! Even though many digital marketers are so over business cards, bring em! You will want to drop them in the bowl for a chance to win a variety of prizes from the party sponsors (including a ticket to 2015 SearchFest) and many owners/managers expect you to still have one (see #5 above).

7. Take the Stairs?

Will you get stuck in the elevator? Probably not. Do you want to get stuck in the elevator? Probably not. However, if you want to take the risk it would be fun anyway, just take event sponsor Webfor‘s word for it: Stuck In An Elevator And Other Adventures In Team Building.

8. Do Expect Good Beer

Ben and Kent on the Roof

Ben Lloyd & Kent Schnepp enjoy the 2012 Rooftop Networking Party

We are in Oregon, we have to have good beer. Last year Migration Brewing was our beer sponsor. This year The Growler Guys will be bringing the craft brews. Keep a look out on SEMpdx’s Facebook page for announcement of what will be on-tap.

9. Buddy Up with SEMpdx Board (they always have extra drink tickets)

Portlandia-SEMpdx-Board

SEMpdx 2013/14 Board of Directors

It’s a friendly group and they would love to tell you about SEMpdx and the monthly educational events we host, and SearchFest, and our Charity of Choice program…the best late night happy hours places near by…but maybe more importantly, they tend to always have extra drink tickets.

10. Support the Sponsors

Seriously, it is $20 (unless you foolishly wait), we wouldn’t be able to have ticket prices this low without sponsors. They also kick in great door prizes, provide some shade with their tents and have great products and services. That one extra sale or ‘thank you’ from an attendee may make the difference to sponsor again. This year Moz has stepped up the be the presenting sponsor, The Growler Guys is bringing the beer, Oregonian Media Group, PSU CEPE, AMA PDX, Webfor, ethology, Yelp Portland, Portland Business Alliance, OCIABC, Mac’s List and OMPA are all sponsoring.

11. Learn Who the Charity Is

10% of all proceeds from SEMpdx events go to our Charity of Choice. We have had some worthy partners over the years and the Rooftop Networking Party has been a nice venue to get them some exposure and do even more good. Specifically, we’ve helped raffle of a Mini for the Children’s Cancer Association and collected 100’s of winter coats for the Portland Police Sunshine Division.

12. Get Your Tickets Early

So what are you waiting for? Even though event capacity is up, the party is sure to sell-out. Plus ticket prices go up next week on August 7th.

I hope to see you all there in 2014 and years to come!