Connections & Cheer: Networking Your Way Through the Holidays

The festive season is here, and amidst the jingle bells and holiday cheer, there’s an opportunity to not just indulge in seasonal treats but also to expand your professional network. Don’t let the allure of ugly holiday sweaters and eggnog distract you; instead, leverage the warmth and goodwill in the air to forge valuable connections. Here’s a guide to making the most of the season.

  1. The Office Holiday Get Together:  Whether it’s an afternoon party or an evening shindig, these events represent an opportunity to shine in front of colleagues and clients. Step away from your close work friends and get to know someone you’d like to work with more.  Prioritize mingling with key stakeholders and be memorable — help others connect your face with your professional expertise.
  2. Family Holiday Dinners: While family gatherings are comfortable and familar, they are also part of your network. Discuss your skills, aspirations, and ask if anyone knows of opportunities related to your goals. Don’t hesitate to politely inquire if anyone in your extended network might need your skills.
  3. Philanthropic or Volunteering Events: Holiday galas and volunteer opportunities abound during the holidays. Find a charity that aligns with your values and look for the best way to support it. These types of activities often attract a diverse crowd and you can expand your network by emphasizing shared values and philanthropic interests in conversations.
  4. Festive Mixers and Parties: Just say yes to holiday cocktail parties and local networking events specifically geared toward the holiday season. Go solo and challenge yourself to connect with someone new. Introduce yourself, ask about their connection to the host, and explore their professional background. Share your holiday plans, but also discuss your professional experience and aspirations and don’t forget to bring business cards.
  5. Alumni Holiday Reunions: Many educational institutions organize alumni gatherings during the holidays. Attend these to reconnect with former classmates. Share updates about your professional journey and learn about the accomplishments of your peers. Use the opportunity to reminisce about shared experiences and forge lasting connections.

Networking Tips for All Occasions:

  • Say Yes: Accept invitations to maximize your chances of meeting new and diverse contacts.
  • Practice Your Elevator Pitch: Prepare a description that quickly conveys your current professional status and aspirations.
  • Build Rapport: Focus on genuine connections; understand others’ challenges and offer support where you can. Engage in non-work-related conversations when you can.
  • Ask for Advice: Pose questions that express your interest in learning more, subtly steering the conversation toward your goals.
  • Meet New People: Be open to making new connections. Challenge yourself to get to know people outside your normal circle.
  • Take Notes and Follow Up: Suggest a way to connect after the event. Once you leave, jot down key details about new connections. Use this information for personalized follow-up emails or LinkedIn connections.

Networking during the holidays may feel unfamiliar, but it’s a chance worth seizing. Embrace discomfort, say yes to invitations, introduce yourself to new faces, and make this season of giving a season of networking. You might just welcome the New Year with exciting new professional opportunities.

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