Continuing to network is one of the most important facets of keeping your professional presence strong during the holiday months. After all, others might be holding off until the New Year to renew their job searches, but if you stay on top of yours, you could be getting a leg up on the competition—and the best way to do so is to make sure you have the right contacts.
But with everyone attending holiday parties, taking winter vacations, and thinking about the gifts they still need to buy rather than about work, how can you meet the right people to push your career forward? Here are some Do’s and Don’ts geared specifically toward networking during the holiday season, no matter where you may find yourself.
- Do take advantage of those parties. They may seem like the least likely places to find and forge business contacts, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to strike up a conversation about work. Meet new people, talk about your careers, and get the word out that you’re looking or at least open to new opportunities. You never know: you just might meet someone in your industry!
- Do get festive with communication! Reach out to your existing contacts and wish them happy holidays. This is a great way to renew conversation if you haven’t spoken in a while. You could even get creative and craft personal e-cards to email out if you feel it’s appropriate.
- Do leverage your social media. You don’t have to stick strictly with email and phone calls; using social media to reach out to your contacts, wish them happy holidays, and catch up is another great way to liven up your network. Also be sure to add the contacts you meet this season to your social networks to make keeping in touch even easier.
- Don’t make it all about yourself. As we’ve mentioned before, tactful networking involves a give-and-take relationship. Approaching people just to tell them you’re looking for a job isn’t very socially or professionally acceptable, and most won’t go out of their way to help someone who is clearly just looking for gain.
- Do keep business cards on you at all times. Most aren’t going to want to discuss work too extensively at a holiday function, so offering a business card is a great way to bookmark your more professional conversations for later. Then, keep in touch and follow up.
- Don’t stop your search because the New Year is just around the corner. Many companies want their new staff hired and trained prior to January 1st, not after. So while others are waiting for the ball to drop to start polishing their resumes and dusting off their LinkedIn profiles, you could be making connections and networking your way into a new position.
- Don’t be discouraged if your networking doesn’t turn into instant job opportunities. Building relationships through networking can take a while, and in order to forge quality ones that will be mutually beneficial, you have to be willing to invest some time. Know that, eventually, all your hard work will pay off!
Whatever you do, don’t fall into the myth that the holidays are a bad time to search for a job. While you network, keep up your job search. Just like summertime, hiring may be slowing down, but there’s still a need for dedicated professionals. And with so many people kicking back during the holidays, you may just stand out even more than usual if you just put in some extra effort.