Networking IS for the Holidays

It is the holiday season! Time to enjoy the company of friends and family and catch a few Christmas (holiday) shows along the way. But what about your job or career search and the networking activities that typically go along with it?  Does that take a ‘holiday’ at this time too? Should you wait until the New Year to start your search or continue the networking that you’ve been engaged in up to this point? My answer is an emphatic NO!

Just because we are singing Christmas carols and going to company parties and gatherings with friends and families (like tonight's Dean’s Reception) doesn't mean we should take off from networking.  In fact, this could be the BEST time to network! With all the gatherings taking place; especially, the professional organizations that hold many events during the month of December, networking can and should be ramped up more than ever.

What better time to chat about your career search or new job outlook or gather information about a new industry than when getting together to share a bit of holiday cheer! People are generally in a good mood and are more open to chatting during this time of year. Scheduling a coffee for catching up with your networking contacts or engaging with new people is never better than during the holidays. As part of that catching up, networking related to your career can certainly be a focused part of the discussion.

Here are some key ways to make connections during the holidays

How about volunteering for community events or activities?  There are many ways to get involved like with Toys For Tots or Salvation Army Bell-Ringers or the many other non-profit or professional entities who are looking for volunteers during this season. Many churches have volunteer activities for a variety of outreach initiatives. When you volunteer, you have opportunities to engage in conversation with others who may know of job openings or have worked in an industry that you have an interest in.

Sending out Christmas greetings (hard copy cards or electronic versions) to your business network may be another way to stay in touch and keep the connections warm.

Take advantage of chance meetings. With all the hustle and bustle of traveling this time of year, waiting in lines for a flight at the airport is common place. Striking up a conversation while you’re waiting can be a great way to learn about others; what they do for a living, interests and more. (It may also reduce the stress level too.)  I have done this numerous times and the result has been a great business connection! Another very common situation are the long lines at retail stores where people can be open to a conversation.  Many times surface chat can go deeper into ‘What do you do for a living?’ or ‘Who do you know in this industry field?’.  Just taking the chance could open a door to a great contact that otherwise would never have happened.

Remember to keep the same focused approach for your networking activities as you would any other time of the year.  By networking during the holiday season, you are making the most of it and positioning yourself well for the New Year when budgets are released and new hiring ramps up.  History proves itself over and over again that a majority of hiring takes place in the first quarter of the year—so why not be ready for this wave of activity?

So, while you’re raising a toast of holiday cheer, keep in mind that your job or career search should not take a holiday break but should be as active and focused as ever. The momentum you gain through this season will prepare you for the many new opportunities that await in the New Year!