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Five networking tips to give the greatest gift of all this Christmas

7 min read

09 December 2016

Christmas is coming and, of course, you want to make sales – but here are five networking tips to truly connect with people at this time of the year, which is what the day is really all about.

Let us eat and drink, but also think – if you really want to make your clients and customers feel loved, we’ve got some networking tips we’ve got for you to take on board at a time when the Christmas message tends to get forgotten.

Once upon a time, Christmas really meant something. It was a day like no other. A bit like the cup final, albeit the same chap appeared to lift the trophy every year.

There was a magic and mystery about Christmas, especially if you were still dressed in short trousers, but any hint of reverence about it has largely been discarded today.

Christmas has metamorphosed into a marketing jamboree. There is a religious holiday in there somewhere if you peer very closely but for the majority of the population it has become an exercise in excess.

People spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need while eating and drinking themselves to a standstill and connecting with each other goes out the window, which is where networking tips can indeed come in useful.

Of course, many do go to church to bless the birth of baby Jesus, but often as a matter of habit rather than through any deep religious conviction.

Quite how many attend on a regular basis is a matter of some conjecture but the sanctity of Christmas with all its symbolism is very much an afterthought when compared with a constant diet of television pap to dull the senses.

You can always rely upon watching Zulu or The Sound of Music for the 93rd time in recent memory or taking bets on who will fall asleep before, during or after the Queen’s Speech.

And then there are the presents, which occasionally provide a surprise on the upside but usually demonstrate the rampant consumerism all around, and need for networking tips to help us all reconnect.

An industry has been built around the celebration of a single day in the calendar but so much of the conversation around it has become barren and soulless.

A century ago, soldiers in the trenches were grateful for every scrap of humanity in the aftermath of the Battle of the Somme in which some 60,000 British troops had been killed or injured on the first day alone.

There was a sense of fellowship and consideration despite the terrible privation all around and connecting to one another was the norm without networking tips. Nobody was too concerned whether they had 1916 version of the XBox or an elderflower infused hamper of handcrafted goods.

It was a time for reflection and remembrance, when the gift of a warm scarf or a packet of chocolate bourbons from home meant everything. It was so much more personal.

Times change, of course, but we live in a very impersonal world in which the ubiquitous Christmas card has now assumed a different role. It enables you to communicate with everyone you have ignored the rest of the year.

You told me I was special and that you loved me. And now I am consigned to a line in your database of contacts.

Christmas cards are utterly meaningless when filled with empty words and act as a reminder of how you routinely forget me over the rest of the year. Do you know the feeling?

How much better if you sent a note to friends and family on, say, 25 May instead. Its unexpected arrival would tell me that you genuinely cared and that, as an individual, you did not run with the herd. And I would remember you and your sentiments for the best of reasons.

Continue on the next page for five networking tips to digest with that second plate of mince pies.

Five networking tips to digest with that second plate of mince pies

(1) Christmas was traditionally a time of togetherness. It did not much matter which god you prayed to or whether you prayed at all but what mattered very much indeed was that you were en famille. Food is such a great leveller. Share it and enjoy it.

(2) Don’t confine your only personal communication to a cursory Christmas card. The odd handwritten note might just transform a relationship. People may be surprisingly pleased to hear from you over the year and, of course, it cuts both ways!

(3) What are you working so hard to achieve? Hopefully, to enrich your life and those you care about. Give yourself time to savour it. You don’t need to travel the globe to do so. Appreciate the comforts of home and, selectively, invite different individuals into it.

(4) Open your mind to open your heart. One day a week, read a newspaper whose views appear diametrically opposed to your own and you may find you don’t disagree with it quite as much as you thought! Differentiate yourself by welcoming fresh perspectives. It is a mark of a leader.

(5) Celebrate the joy of Christmas but also the random pleasures of life. But do so with meaning and feeling without being glued to a mobile device. The walls will not come crashing down nor will there be a thunderbolt from the heavens should you completely switch off.

Howard Lewis, businessman, author and raconteur, is the founder and director of technology-free networking experience OFFLINE

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