Doing what I do (teach people about good networking habits), I keep an eye on articles written about networking. This time of year I see a lot of articles about networking at holiday parties.

I also see a lot of grouchiness about that concept.

For some folks, they bridle at the idea of following the advice of the authors who say that the holiday party is a good place to scope for potential clients.

(It isn’t)

For others, even if the author isn’t suggesting a sales mentality, they don’t even like the idea of a social event being a potential networking opportunity. In their opinion, bringing networking into such a party sullies the whole purpose of the gathering. “Leave networking for business gatherings and leave my holiday party alone!” they seem to be saying.

Here’s the thing. I think both groups have it backward. They see networking as a business thing. That means every social event is a potential networking event. They think that networkers are people who are just looking to score a contract, a job, or a promotion.

True networkers, however, aren’t looking for those things. Or rather, they know that those things are the by-products of creating a strong network. When they network, they create connections. For them, every networking event is, first and foremost, a social event.

As such, whether they are at the company holiday gala, the Chamber year-ender, or sharing egg nog with a new friend, their goal is to find out more about the other person (both personal and professional), to find ways to help, and to make others comfortable in whatever venue they find themselves.

Hmm. Sounds like someone you might want to have on the guest list at your next party.