Whether it be The Day of Ashura, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, Virgin of Guadalupe, Las Posadas, Christmas or just a reason to pull out the Santa and Elves costumes; you cannot go one week without being invited to some company sponsored, community or religious event.
While it is extremely important to respectfully recognize the multitude of different backgrounds, faiths and beliefs being displayed; it is equally important to remember this is a perfect time to really focus on your professional branding and how you want to be perceived in the New Year. These five holiday party networking tips will help you do just that.
1. Every Event Is An Opportunity To Network
While the eggnog is flowing, festive music is in the air; remember building relationships is what you are focused on and not just another glass of the bubbly. This tends to be the time when Corporate America slows down just a tad; so people are more open to attending after-hours holiday events.
Capitalize on that by attending functions and reconnect with colleagues, company leaders, recruiters, and so on. Remember to connect with people you DO NOT KNOW and do not spend time discussing what you do. This is a time for individuals to relax and enjoy themselves in a setting that allows them to get to know you. You are not just the job you currently have nor the position you are trying to land; successful networkers know to leave those things at the door and simply bring themselves instead.
2. NEVER Forget The Business Card
I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to an event where you offer your business card only to hear, “I’m sorry but I’ve run out of cards” or “Oops, I forgot to bring them.” While I am a HUGE advocate of leveraging technology (e.g. LinkedIn’s Cardmunch App), there’s something to be said about that four sided little thing called a business card and how it will appear to top executives if you chose not to bring one.
If you are in-between jobs, INVEST in a good quality business card (and no, this does NOT include Vistaprint). Think creatively, think unique, think memorable. My personal business card from a few years ago, seen here, is only one of many examples of how you can separate yourself from just another business card holder. From the silk paper to the raised colorful and glossy water droplets, it always proved to get the needed attention it deserved.
3. Send Holiday Cards
A recent study showed that 63% of 1,000 men and women surveyed nationwide would mail tangible greetings this year. Holiday Cards are almost small gifts. Well timed Holiday Cards can make you stand out and be the first to receive that coveted lunch meeting in the New Year. In this world of digital communication, people still love to receive snail mail, display it on their office desks and post them to their office doors.
But choose to be different by not choosing the proverbial Hallmark Card. Instead consider CardsDirect.com. But be aware of varying religious beliefs; I prefer “Happy Holiday” greetings over “Merry Christmas” in the corporate world as a way to ensure inclusiveness. But in my personal circle of friends, Merry Christmas is certainly appropriate.
4. A Bottle Of Wine Begs To Be Shared
Consider sharing a bottle of wine as a gift with those top five executives you really want to add to your network. There are several wine companies out there but I have recently come across a company with a unique idea – (and if you know me you know I love unique ideas) – wine in a wooden bottle. “Wooden Bottle” has entered the market and saved the day by displaying individuality which is sure to catch the eye and spark interest of any recipient. Everyone loves a bottle of wine, even if you are not a wine drinker, and the packaging is so unique it is sure to grace the desk or the office cabinet for years to come as a reminder of your thoughtfulness.
5. Timely Follow-Up Is Imperative
After all the tinsel has been taken off the tree, the candles put away and the holiday travel has ended; never forget to drop a note of thanks to all those you were able to connect with in person. Add them to your LinkedIn network and work to schedule time for coffee, lunch or an in-office meeting. Not doing this has the potential of making you the person an executive or recruiter met but just cannot seem to remember.
End your year on a positive note by using these holiday party networking tips that will surely set you up for career success next year.
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