Ten holiday networking tips for contractors

With the holidays fast approaching, you may be feeling ready to forget about work for a while. But for contractors, there’s never any real downtime, and the holidays are actually the perfect time to network and pick up work for the new year.

“The guy dressed as Santa at your cousin’s barbecue could very well end up giving you a hefty amount of work next year,” says Liam Collins from 1st Contact Umbrella. He offers these winning tips for freelancers, contractors and those seeking employment.

1.Take an interest

The first step is to see what others are getting up to.  Are some of your friends attending a fundraiser or arranging a Christmas party for a children’s home? Has an ex colleague invited you to a free talk by an industry expert? Is there a charity auction happening in your neighbourhood? Take an interest in what other people are doing and get yourself invited.

2. Get out there

Now that you know what your peers are doing, join them. You don’t have to go to every single thing planned for the festive season, but get out there and do interesting things with interesting people. The bottom line is: in order to be exposed to opportunities, you must expose yourself to people.

3. Mingle like a pro

Once you’re out and about, don’t hang around the buffet all afternoon or hide in the corner with the one person you actually know. Go and meet and greet people. Always try to greet the host personally – when you get there, as well as when you leave. Set a goal for yourself for every social occasion, especially if you’re more of an introvert. For instance, you could decide that you want to meet, shake hands with and talk to at least six people and exchange details with three. Be enthusiastic, but don’t bombard people and don’t interrupt others’ conversations.

4. Never leave home without business cards

There’s no greater faux pas than not having a business card on you when a prospective employer asks for one. Always have plenty of cards, and ensure that they are easy to reach and able to stay in mint condition.

5. Take a camera

Let’s say you’re at a small community bicycle race, where you meet the CEO of a large company in your industry. If you happened to snap the winning shot of his little son going over the finish line, he WILL want you to send that picture and you have a foot in the door.

6. Ask and listen

The very last thing you should do at any festive, social or networking event is bore people with details of you and your life. Rather engage people by asking about their interests or field of expertise. And even more importantly – LISTEN to what they are saying and ask further questions. People like people who are interested in them. Do you want to leave the party feeling like you “got stuff off your chest” or like you truly engaged with people who can make a difference in your career?

7. Offer solutions

Events provide plenty of opportunities to offer solutions. These could take the form of contact details, information or physical assistance with something. If someone you are chatting to is lamenting their terrible mechanic and you have a genuine solution, offer it. Perhaps two people are discussing an IT issue that you understand – if you can explain it in such a way that it provides a real solution, do so. If you’re just confusing matters or coming across as condescending, then don’t.

8. Take a pen

A pen comes in very handy if, as in the above scenario, you have a solution to offer. You could write a note to yourself on the back of the person in question’s business card reminding you to follow up with the information you promised. Or you could write the mechanic’s telephone number for instance, onto the back of yours.

9. Be memorable

By listening to what others have to say, engaging in an open way and offering solutions, you can make sure you are remembered by all the right people. Just make sure you are not remembered for all the wrong reasons. In other words, don’t be the guy who got drunk and broke his nose attempting to do a pole dance.

10. Follow up

If you exchanged contact details with anyone, wait an appropriate length of time and then follow up with an email or a phone call. If you said you would follow up with information or that winning photograph, do it soon after meeting. Otherwise, a general follow-up email after the festive dust has settled can be the first step towards building the relationship.

1st Contact Umbrella offers innovative, reliable and affordable payroll solutions to contractors. Visit our website at www.1stcontact-umbrella.com for more information.