5 Ways to Build Your Network Over the Holidays
Are you motivated to move forward with your job search and/or networking efforts during the holiday season – but not sure if it is the “right time” to engage in these activities
The holiday season is the OPTIMAL time to maximize your job search and networking efforts. To get the highest return on your investments of time, effort, and energy, we recommend you proceed using these proven holiday networking strategies…
Many industry associations host holiday parties for members and non-members alike. Conduct research to identify three Christmas or New Year events related to your industry or career interests that you want to attend. Put these events on your calendar, and make arrangements to attend.
Prepare appropriate attire for each event and venue. To make the most of your networking, it is better to arrive 15 minutes early than 15 minutes “fashionably late.”
Make an effort to have genuine, meaningful conversations with family members, friends, and colleagues at each holiday gathering or party. Maintain attention and focus on each person you speak with. Ask open-ended questions, and actively listen to what they say.
Eventually, the conversation will turn to you. This is the perfect time to share that you are looking to make a career transition and ask them if they know anyone who may be hiring someone like you. Asking this question could lead to many job opportunities. (This is a great time to have your elevator speech prepared.)
Having trouble finding a good holiday gathering to attend?
Consider hosting your own networking event. Partner with a few close contacts in your industry to co-host an industry-focused holiday gathering. Split the expenses and maximize your guest list by asking each guest to bring someone in the industry as their “plus one.”
Have everyone wear a nametag or otherwise introduce themselves to the group. Before you know it, you will have dozens of new industry contacts.
Do you have a group of friends or former colleagues you have not connected with in a while? Feeling a little guilty about not keeping in touch?
Well…it is never too late to reach out and reconnect with friends and former colleagues. Just do it!
Send a personalized holiday greeting card (or e-card) to check in and offer your best wishes for a happy holiday season and successful new year. An unexpected greeting card sent to your friends and professional contacts will put a smile on their face and keep you top of mind.
Make sure you include a personal (handwritten) message and take the opportunity to invite your contacts to reconnect over coffee or lunch in the coming new year. This gives you a reason to reach out and follow-up.
If most of your professional contacts have a presence on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook, you should send a thoughtful holiday message to strike up authentic, meaningful conversations.
The networking possibilities of LinkedIn are endless! The holidays present the PERFECT opportunity to establish or rekindle relationships with LinkedIn connections who may be able to help you identify potential career opportunities in the new year.
Craft personalized, direct messages through LinkedIn wishing your contacts well and asking them about their current career endeavors. There is a high probability that many of these contacts will spur meaningful conversations that may lead to potential job opportunities.
In many industries, it is generally easier to connect with critical decision makers during the late winter months – as business initiatives and travel often slow down due to the holidays.
If possible, make an attempt to schedule a meeting with a potential employer during the holiday season. You will be more likely to catch people in good spirits. The holidays typically bring out people’s generosity, so key decision makers may be more willing (and available) to take your call and otherwise carve out time for you.
Last but CERTAINLY not least – approach every conversation you have over the holidays as a potential career opportunity. Whether you are catching up with old friends, congregating with family members, or visiting with other attendees at a neighborhood event, your next meaningful networking conversation could be the one that leads to your dream job or next big gig!
Therefore, it is critical for you to be prepared.
Have your elevator speech ready, and listen closely for conversations that are relevant to your job search. Ask about your peers’ recent career moves or challenges. Set aside time to catch up with friends and former coworkers within your industry or sphere of interest. The time, energy, and effort you invest in these conversations will benefit you both personally and professionally.
And, of course, make sure you are equipped with an effective networking follow-up strategy!
Need help with your elevator pitch or networking strategy? Our career coaches can help you craft a powerful elevator speech and identify the best networking methods for your unique goals and situation.