Unlocking the Potential of Networking in the Festive Season
While you may not be overly focused on career progression and networking amid the festive season, it is, in fact, a great time to reach out to your network and spread the holiday cheer – and maybe even stumble upon an opportunity or two in doing so.
The holiday season is rampant with social gatherings, end of year events and company parties, making it a great time to reconnect with and grow your network. While there are still specific networking events circulating in this period, one should never underestimate the networking potential of a company Christmas party or even a family gathering. Opportunities for connection building run rampant in the festive season, you just need to have the eagerness and motivation to search them out and take them!
Furthermore, as the end of the year and the holidays approach, people become far more relaxed and chipper – this is particularly relevant after the year we have just endured and the easing of COVID restrictions coinciding with the beginning of holiday season. On top of this, once the rush of the year is over, people have more free time to reply to messages and offer their professional support to those that seek it in the right way. These two factors work together in creating an environment that is conducive to the formation of strong connections that may lead to promising opportunities in the new year.
So, if you are seeking to build your career or business in 2021, now is the time to focus on networking while the silly season comes into full swing. In this blog, we've devised a few tips to help you to really optimise the potential of the festive season and start 2021 off with an array of opportunities and connections.
Our Tips and Trick to Network in the Silly Season
1. Attend (physically or virtually) a wide range of events
the end of the year is often littered with social, family and professional events and these represent a great opportunity to put your networking skills to work. This is not limited to specific networking events but can take the form of social gatherings, a friend's company event or even a dinner out with friends. Who knows, maybe your childhood friend may be dating the CEO of an impressive company or your aunt Hilda may have your dream job opportunity up her sleeve. When you are looking to grow your network, it is important to see the potential in every person and every situation – you never know where the perfect opportunity may lie.
2. Be prepared
when heading out to events keep your elevator pitch top of mind and a few business cards handy, as already mentioned, you never know where you may meet the perfect new connection and it always looks good to be prepared.
3. Focus on creating a memorable experience
both you and your potential connections will be meeting and speaking to a lot of people in the festive season (even if it is not career focussed); therefore, it is important to ensure they remember you and you remember them. To achieve this, make you stand out; try to come up with creative, memorable, and even humorous ways to answer simple questions and try to keep your conversations lively and interesting. Furthermore, it is also important that you remember the people you meet – networking is a two-way street after all. It can be useful to add people on social media (such as LinkedIn) straight away or to even jot down some memorable details on their business card to help you to match the face to the name.
4. Read the room
this is important to remember when attending events that are not specifically designed for networking. For example, if you are at a relaxed Christmas gathering, some people may not want to speak about business and careers, and by launching into your elevator pitch immediately you risk coming off as overbearing and even narcissistic. Sometimes it is more effective to stick to a light-hearted conversation and focus on making strong connections with people first and leave the business talk for later.
5. Follow up
while the holiday season might be crammed with family gatherings and activities, it is important to always follow up with your connections promptly. Don't let all your networking work go to waste! A simple follow-up message the next day can be a great way to demonstrate an appreciation of the person's time and put down the groundwork for a future meeting. Something as simple as "It was great to meet you last night, let's organise a chat over a coffee sometime in the new year" works wonders to create strong connections without coming out too overbearing in the holiday season.
6. Remember the basics of networking
no matter the season, the principles of networking remain the same – practice active listening, provide value to others and focus on quality over quantity. Networking is not as intimidating as it seems when you stick to the basics.
7. Don't underestimate the power of a simple Christmas card
this is a great way to utilise the opportunity of the festive season to reach out to your existing connections. As old-school as it may seem, a hand-written Christmas card is a simple yet thoughtful way to show your appreciation for another human being and to keep your name top of mind. Furthermore, sending a small gift, such as some home-made cookies or a bottle of wine, can even spur a thank you phone call, providing an opportunity to strengthen the connection. A festive greeting card is also a great way to reach out to connections you may have lost touch with in a friendly way while also spreading the cheer of the festive season.
While it is tempting to take a break from your work life when the holidays come around, it can be extremely profitable to power through and make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. As said by Brian Tracey, "Network continually – 85% of all jobs are filled through contacts and personal references". Developing a constant practice of networking and connection building can really pay off in the long run and is almost always worth the effort - even in the 'off-season'.