It’s the most wonderful (networking) time of the year!

Dec 12, 2011 by

I love this time of the year. I’d prefer if we had some snow in DC right now, but the chilly weather, beautiful lights and festive music make me happy anyway. I also love all the chances you get to see friends and family, especially those that you haven’t seen in a long time. It can be exhausting, but all those holiday parties, happy hours and general get togethers provide lots of time to catch up and network.

Some people think networking is a dirty word – but they are wrong! And there is no better time to network than during the holidays. Need a job? Need some side hustle work? Want to maintain relationships in case you need those things later? Then this is your season!

Here’s how you can make the most of these ample networking opportunities:

  • Bring a big pile of business cards everywhere you goYou know how I feel about business cards. I really, really hope you have some by now. If not, go to Vistaprint right now, order some and pay extra to get them delivered ASAP. This goes double if you have a side business that you need to promote. I carry my full time job card and my personal career coaching business card everywhere so that I can hand out whichever card is appropriate for the conversation I’m having.
  • Identify your targets – If you’re anything like me, you’ve got at least 5 holiday parties that you must attend and the option to attend several more. It can be exhausting to socialize that much, so try to be very strategic about which parties you attend. If you know that an organization you want to work for is having a big company party and you have a friend or acquaintance there, by all means try to get in. And if there are certain people at a given party that you want to talk to – for business or personal reasons – make your way to them early in the evening so that you can grab their attention before a bunch of other people do.
  • Watch what you eat and drink – This tip is true for any networking event, but I think it’s especially relevant during the holidays. It’s so easy to get carried away with the ‘celebrating’ and end up sloshed with smelly appetizer breath by 7pm. Try to eat at least a snack before you go to the party so you’re not starving and stick with one or two drinks at maximum.
  • Take it easy. Sort of. – Even though most people recognize that the holidays are a great time to network, it is easy to cross the line from “friendly catch up” into “desperate job seeking.” (Come to think of it, it’s easy to cross that line at any time of the year.) Plus, everyone you’re talking to is likely looking to make the most of their time at the party – so don’t monopolize. But on the other hand, don’t give up your opportunity to talk to that one person because they seem ‘busy.’ I once stalked a guy for over an hour at a party (I already knew him but hadn’t seen him in over a year). He was in the middle of a conversation and then someone else interrupted so I took that opportunity to cut in as well. I then waited around for another 30 minutes until he could break away; it took some time, but he ended up putting in a good word for me at an organization I wanted to work at.
  • Have fun! – No matter what you do, make sure you attend at least one or two parties that are just strictly for fun. They don’t call it the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ for nothing. Hanging out, having a little too much to drink and enjoying yourself is part of the holiday package. 🙂

Good luck on all your holiday networking!

Flickr photo courtesy of user rwoan

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