The holidays are approaching, and fast! While many people use this time of year to focus on themselves, spend time with family, and start listing their resolutions, it’s actually a great time to get back in touch with your network.
Think about it: business slows down during the holidays. People have time off, go on vacation, aren’t working on major projects, and have more time for things outside of work. This makes it the perfect time to reach out and say hello.
Here are a few ways you can take advantage of the holiday season to expand and strengthen your network.
Say thank you.
Holidays are a time for reflecting. Look back on your career – who has been there for you? Who helped you out when you needed it, or advised you through tough situations? Who did you meet that you’re just glad to have as a member of your network?
Whether you’re thanking people through a quick LinkedIn message or a physical thank you or holiday card, a little thoughtfulness goes a long way.
Send holiday well wishes.
The simple fact that the holidays are coming up is itself a reason to get back in touch. You don’t need to send actual holiday cards or elaborate e-cards to do this. Sending a short email to say, basically, “happy holidays, I hope you’re well” gives your network a gentle nudge, reminding them that you’re around. It sparks conversations without asking for anything in return.
It can be frustrating when you’re job searching, and you realize that a contact you haven’t spoken to in ages now works at your dream company or could help you in some other way. To avoid popping up in someone’s life out of nowhere, and awkwardly asking for favors, you should keep strengthening those connections whenever possible.
Using a little excuse like this to get back in touch now means that when the time comes (and trust us, you never know when that time will be), you can ask for help or support without being demanding.
Go to networking parties and events.
This is something you should do year round, but if networking events aren’t usually your thing the holidays are a great time to give them a try.
This time of year, there are plenty of networking events and happy hours going on to help you meet new people. Some companies even open up their corporate holiday parties to the public, so their biggest fans can get in on the fun.
Networking events during the holidays are usually more relaxed and casual than other events, so it’s a great way to meet new people in a fun and pressure-free environment. Just make sure you go easy on the cocktails – keep it classy.
Make plans for the new year.
Plenty of people are out of town during the holidays, so it may be hard to get a hold of them in person. However, if you reach out now, you can make sure you’re the first meeting they’ll have in the new year.
Take advantage of the downtime during the holidays to coordinate a meeting when your connection is back in the area. You can arrange a coffee meeting to catch up, reflect on the past year, and discuss each of your plans for the year ahead. The new year gives you a reason to reach out, reflect, and reconnect.
Ask how you can help others.
Like we said, you never know when you’ll need help from someone. The best way to make sure you get that help when the time comes is to always be generous. Helping others is really like making an investment in your future; the more favors you do for others, the more likely they are to help you out when you need it.
During the holiday season, send a quick note to your connections to ask if there’s anything you can do to help them – like a little career holiday gift. You can even download your LinkedIn connections, so you can send this to your whole network.
You can offer to make introductions for them, ask them to update you on their accomplishments from the past year, or just let them know that you’re around if they ever need anything. Doing favors for your network will help you to strengthen and maintain those connections throughout your career.
How will you take advantage of the holiday season to network? Share with us in the comments!