During this time of joy and merriment, you may not be thinking about your career that much, but the holidays are actually an excellent time to give your career a boost. Research finds that December is a notoriously good time to land new opportunities and that starts with networking. With all the extra parties and downtime as well, there is ample time to meet lots of new people.
Some people tend to look at networking as a chore, but it can actually be so fun. Yes, it can be a little intimidating to talk to people you have never met before, but the payoff has great potential. Sallie Krawcheck, owner of the women’s networking group 85 Broads, told Glamour Magazine earlier this year:
It’s as easy as saying, ‘Here are two women you should speak to about that project.’ I just did those women a favor, and they’re going to remember me. Plant seeds, plant seeds, and don’t ask for anything. The seeds will grow.
It doesn’t even need to be a party in your industry. You never know who you will meet at your neighbor’s holiday party. Here are some tips for networking your way through the holidays from a few experts. So throw back some eggnog and get going!
1. Make a great first impression.
Walk into a party smiling and ready to meet new people. Do not go immediately to the bar or keep looking at your phone. Make an impact! Health Care CEO/Owner, Gary Polsky says, “Inspire an interpersonal connection that will set the stage for the relationship’s chemistry. Don’t ever shy away from asking for introductions.”
2. Leverage your likability.
Knock them dead with your elevator pitch and keep them wanting more. “Stimulate the heartbeat of the ‘high-return relationship’ by leveraging your likeability factor through communication with compassion. It’s the holidays, so make sure you smile and are not too uptight,” Polsky says.
Yes, you want to let this new contact know who you are, but you also have to listen. This will help form a relationship. LinkedIn’s career expert Nicole Williams, the bestselling author of Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success, and Secret’s Career Confidence Coach says don’t focus on you. “Be prepared with an arsenal of get-to-know-you questions. One of the ways you make the most favorable first impression is to focus on them … not you,” Williams says.
4. Get some good conversation starters ready.
Williams has a great list of networking ice breakers to get the conversation started. If you know who is going to be at the party, do some research so you can ask questions that relate to them like about what school they went to or their latest project. When in doubt, just ask them if they have seen The Hunger Games. Everyone seems to have an opinion on that!
Perhaps the most important part of networking is the follow-up. Write an email within 24 hours of meeting them to remind them how nice it was to talk to them and that you would love to arrange a meeting at some point.