It’s party time! You’re probably meeting a lot of new people at all those holiday events. And yes, there’s a way to make new connections without ruining the holiday spirit.

You just have to watch out for a few things, starting with the fact that — yes, it’s a party! So remember that and make a point of being social! Here is a highly effective 9-step approach for how to enjoy the party and grow your business along the way:

1. It’s a party

First of all, holiday social gatherings aren’t networking events. That doesn’t mean you have to leave your business cards at home. By all means, have a stash available. But don’t whip them out right away or you’ll be seen as Scrooge.

2. Start with small talk

Ask them who they know at the party. Or make a comment about the food, the gorgeous decorations, the music, whatever seems appropriate. Ease into the conversation and build that holiday spirit and rapport. But sooner or later, the following question will come up: “So what do you do?” And here’s what you do in response…

…You deploy your audio logo!

Your audio what? You’ve probably heard the phrase “elevator speech.” But I prefer “audio logo.” It defines the idea much more clearly. A well-designed audio logo provides a highly effective — and intriguing — definition of what you do, and it does it in seconds.

Basically, instead of giving a job name you tell them the benefits of what you do — and include your ideal target audience. So for example, instead of saying, “I’m a real estate agent,” tell them “I help young professionals find their perfect first home.” Work on that ahead of time, so you’ll be ready.

3. Listen to the other person

Once you mention what you do, shut up, at least for a moment. Give them a chance to digest what you just said and ask a question if they’re interested. And if they tell you about any need they may have, listen closely and take mental notes. If they ask questions, answer, but keep it brief – remember this is a social event so keep the social focus. Even if they seem to want to buy from you don’t get into the details – schedule a time to talk later during business hours.

4. Ask them what they do

If they haven’t volunteered that by now, ask them what they do. Then show genuine curiosity and ask follow-up questions. DO NOT try to sell them your services.

5. Ask for their business card

If you have had a pleasant conversation, and they could be a good prospect for you — or a potential referral partner, be sure to ask for their card. They will very likely ask for yours in return. Please be careful with this step… remember it is a social gathering.

6. Jot down some notes on the card

Before you move on to your next conversation, jot down some quick notes on the card or in your phone very discreetly — where you met, what you talked about, and any follow-up info or other important info about that person. You want to remember them – especially if you’re enjoying the rum eggnog.

7. Wash, rinse, repeat

Repeat this sequence as often as possible during the event. And don’t forget to have fun.

8. Thank the host(s)

Before you leave, be sure to thank the host, and mention that you enjoyed meeting the people you had conversations with. You host might well volunteer more information about that. Or might introduce you to more people just like them. In fact, you may even want to have a version of that conversation during the party to give them an even better opportunity to do just that.

9. Follow up

Follow up right away. Send a thank you card or gift to the host. And then get out your stack of business cards and send an email or call everyone you met within a day or two.

If appropriate, offer to send them a free gift of some kind — a special report, article, an audio, something that seems suitable such as an edible business card. And consider inviting them for lunch or a cup of coffee in the very near future.

The basic premise is to remember you are supposed to enjoy yourself at holiday parties, so don’t become a Scrooge by “repping” yourself across the party scene.  Just enjoy simple conversation, which almost always leads to the question, “So what do you do?”.  Play it ‘cool’ and enjoy the conversation and in the meantime you are gathering new contacts.  So enjoy the holidays, but don’t forget your bread and butter is what keeps the electric turned on, so go ahead and get to know those future customers or business builders.

As always, please tweet this and share this with your network.

How are you blossoming today?