Do double duty this holiday season as you mingle at various holiday gatherings. Have fun, but take the opportunity to network.
At your company lunch or dinner, sit next to someone you will be working with on an upcoming project or someone you want to work with in the future. But don’t talk shop, advises Forbes. “[S]kip the work chat, and use this time to ask them where they’re spending the holidays or what their favorite dish is this time of year. Your goal is to build a connection with someone on a personal level that will motivate him or her to make more time to hear your work ideas later,” says the magazine.
If you’re at an industry function, connect with peers from other companies and potential clients. Go up and introduce yourself.
Even the family get-together a networking opportunity. “Why should you talk to your aunt (a first-grade teacher) or your cousin’s new boyfriend (who’s in finance) about your work optimizing websites? Because family counts as a part of your network,” Forbes points out. In the process of chatting or getting to know someone, you could be making a useful professional contact.
“And if you’re on the job hunt and just hoping to dodge questions about your employment status, think again,” the story continues. “Instead, choose to talk about your skills, and what you hope to be doing. Then follow up with a simple, ‘Know anyone?’”
We also recommend using the holiday season to reach out to former colleagues and clients. Give them a call or send an old-fashioned, handwritten Christmas card in the mail. Once you have reconnected this way, touch base after the new year. Get new job leads from former co-workers or see if an old client needs your services again. The holidays are the perfect reason to reconnect with people.
It’s also an opportune time to invite potential clients and or colleagues you want to get to know better out for lunch. These little friendly gestures could pay off big in 2013.