Networking over the Holidays

Last time we wrote an article confirming that the holidays are not a death sentence for job hunting, and outlining a few ways to use the festive season to your advantage when searching for a new position.  This week, we decided to take a deeper look at one area in particular: networking.  As we mentioned last week, the holidays can be an excellent time for networking, as there are a seemingly endless stream of parties and events to attend along with countless old friends, family members, and former colleagues.  These events are the perfect forum for you to announce that you are in the job market.  Networking over the holidays is a delicate balance, though: people want to have fun, catch up, and chat about their holiday plans, not spend the entire evening talking about career opportunities.  So, this week we’ve put together some tips for savvy holiday networking, to help you make sure you get your point across without bringing down the holiday cheer.

Tip One: Keep conversation light

If you’ve been strategic in your holiday event plans, you will hopefully find yourself chatting with numerous contacts that can provide just the boost you are looking for and help you line up a job – or at least an interview – for the new year.  When you’re launching the conversation, though, try to keep conversation light.  Remember that most of these people are here to mingle and have fun, not to network and talk shop.  Talk about holiday plans, favorite recipes, and prime vacation spots before bringing up work.

Tip Two: Ask to meet for coffee

Once you’ve spent some time chatting with someone you think could help you advance your career, ask them if they want to meet up for a cup of coffee to continue the conversation.  You don’t want to take up too much of their evening talking shop, so asking if you can meet later in the week to discuss career opportunities is a great way to keep the connection and avoid causing any annoyance.  Also, since the holidays tend to be a slow time in the office, it is likely that they will have more free time to meet with you.

Tip Three: Don’t over-indulge

Networking can be stressful to many people, and holiday events are notorious for free-flowing alcohol and heavy treats.  You can certainly have fun at the event – a couple glasses of wine and some hors d'oeuvres are not going to hurt, and may help you relax – but be sure not to tip over the edge.  You’ll certainly be memorable if you’re belting Christmas carols into an empty paper towel holder, but it’s not the best career move.

Tip Four: Do your research

Before you attend a holiday event, whether it’s a party hosted by a professional organization or a friend’s company party, do some research on who will be attending and with whom you would most like to speak.  People tend to be more receptive to making new connections at holiday events, as it’s a social time of the year, which makes it an excellent time to approach your top networking targets.

Tip Five: Don’t forget about family

If you’re seriously looking for a new position, don’t discount the importance of family holiday parties for your career.  Family events are a time to relax and catch up with relatives you may not see very much throughout the rest of the year – but they are also a time to let those relatives know what type of position you are looking for and what you hope to be doing.  If you don’t talk about your skills, your career path, and your job hunt, how is your cousin supposed to realize that they know just the guy you should meet?  Take advantage of your extended family’s network!

Tip Six: Don’t get discouraged

If your networking doesn’t go as planned over the holidays, try not to get discouraged.  It’s still the holiday season, after all, and you should make time to have fun and enjoy spending time with friends and family!  You can always pick your search up again in the new year, after you’ve had some time to unwind and celebrate.

We hope these holiday networking tips are useful!  For more advice on job searching during the holidays, please reach out to us today!  Our recruiting experts are full of advice on the best ways to market yourself in order to advance your job search.  

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