The holiday season has the potential to be the best or the worst time of year for networking. The lull that comes at the year’s end leaves many influential individuals with significant breathing room that you can take advantage of by reaching out to them and networking efficiently and effectively while your peers are taking time off. The ability to set yourself apart from your peers combined with the general more laid-back, social atmosphere that accompanies the holiday season means that with a little effort you can meet and connect on a deeper level with quite a few interesting people over the holiday season.
The first key to successful networking during the holidays and a good starting point for this discussion is proper preparation. If you’re on the look-out for a new position, mention it to your friends. Make sure they have a general idea of your skill set and experience and discuss positions and companies which interest you- they may know of positions you weren’t aware of and be able to introduce you to valuable connections. Most importantly, be personally ready for each event you attend with a polished elevator pitch that encapsulates who you are, what you do, and, if appropriate, what you’re looking for.
While most people arguably don’t think of holiday parties as networking opportunities, that’s exactly what they are and they’re your best shot for successful networking over the holiday season. Most professional associations and workplaces host their own holiday parties, and if you feel ready to up the ante, host your own event and take full advantage to connect and reconnect with people who can help to streamline your networking process. As with any networking event, before each party, assemble a list of influential individuals and decision makers to target and if possible, have a friend or acquaintance make the introductions for you to add a more casual, personal touch to the interaction. Two additional things to keep in mind. Firstly, while these parties afford excellent networking opportunities, they’re designed to be a venue for co-workers and peers to unwind and connect on a more personal level- talk about yourself professionally, but try to gauge what is and isn’t appropriate and keep the majority of your interactions focused on things which aren’t business related. And secondly, have fun but don’t over-imbibe. Just because it’s the holidays and you’re there to socialize doesn’t mean you need to be the life of the party; stay professional.
If holiday parties aren’t exactly your cup of tea, if there aren’t enough opportunities in your area, or if you just want to go above and beyond, send holiday greeting cards out to your professional contacts. They’re a great, friendly way to connect over the holiday season- add a personal greeting or message in each one and look forward to a natural conversational point when you run into your contacts in the new year.
The holidays are full of potential, offering a jovial, social environment and leading perfectly into the increased number of positions that will be available in the new year; don’t let this wonderful opportunity pass you by. Happy holidays!