Updated Dec, 10th 2012
Ah, yes, Halloween candy is on clearance and it's already the yuletide. Stores are blaring holiday carols and tinsel is on every store window (except Nordstroms...thank you!). But other than the crush to buy plane tickets for get-togethers and get theperfectgift for everyone on your list, what can you give to yourself this holiday season? A perfect opportunity to network at all of those holiday parties you are invited to, that's what.
Network now? But I'm so busy....
It might not seem like it, but holiday parties are a great time to network. Everyone is in a good (read: charitable) mood. People are focused on the new year. Parties are natural places to have small talk (which you can use to your advantage). So, while you are filling up your calendar, remember that having a purpose this holiday party circuit might be the difference between a brand new job for a gift and the same ol' same in the new year.
Many job websites give some helpful tips, let's think about the prep work you can do now and then examine some of the tips while actually hobnobbing. Of course, there are also some things you can do after you've attended your fiesta. These tips work whether you are going for a new job or just trying to come to the attention of your own higher-ups.
Research and Plan:
As soon as you open that invite, get those wheels turning. Who at this party is someone that you want to meet? An article at Monster.com of Holiday Networking Tips mentions this: "'Set a goal to meet, connect with and learn from three to five people at an event,' advises Andrea Nierenberg, a New York City-based speak and trainer and author of Million Dollar Networking. 'Do your research before going so you know something about those you might meet.'"
Do you know anything about your contact? If you don't know much more than a name and position, it's time to start looking at LinkedIn, researching on social media, and thinking of some conversation starters. After all, knowing if you share an interest or hobby with a person is a wonderful way to break the ice and get the conversation started.
Look to Connect, But Not Overwhelm:
Remember, the goal here is to start the conversation. This isn't a job interview, but a good opportunity to start a conversation that could lead to that person thinking of you later when an opportunity arises. Entrepreneur magazine recommends that you have a "teaser" topic ready. As Ivan Misner writes, "Approaching the end of the year, every business executive is thinking about how to increase profits and performance in the new year. Have an idea ready that describes the steps you'd take to improve your networking contact's business. Make this research part of the homework you do ahead of time."
Doing all of this research and preparation will make you look prepared and polished when the party date rolls around. These same sites have loads of good advice for when you are at the party, but we'll save that for a later date, when those parties are actually here. I prefer to follow Nordstrom's example when it comes to rushing the holidays. But, a person who plans will surely shine when those parties come around.
Have any other tips to prepare for holiday parties? Do you have a strategy for networking that is different and has worked? Share them below.
Christine is the content curator for YPC and secretary of the planning committee. She works as an aptitude consultant helping people discover their natural talents and as a business writing instructor. You can reach her on Twitter @CMcMChatter
This project started as a conversation about how you can actually land a job in the fourth quarter (I was offered not one, but two jobs during holiday parties in the past). So, I took it from there, did a little digging and tried to make this very research oriented. I like including the links so that my readers can just go right there and I can just mention it without having to say everything that the source says. i will be writing one in the coming week about ACTUALLY networking at the party, how you stalk your prey etc.
My audience is people who are striving to get ahead in their careers. We have about 2700 followers on FB, 2300 on Twitter and some of them migrate over to this blog now and again. I'd like it to be more often, obviously!
Does anyone have any suggestions for me?