Eight Tips for Networking During the Holidays

During the holiday season, you may find yourself in the midst of a number of networking opportunities—and you may not even know it. Corporate holiday parties, business lunches and even volunteer outings are all chances for you to network with prospective colleagues and employers.

Don’t let a networking opportunity slip by. Here are a few tips for connecting with important people in your field this holiday season.

  1. Be positive. Company Christmas parties aren’t necessarily something we all look forward to, and they’re often seen as obligations rather than opportunities. Go into holiday gatherings with a positive mindset and be ready to engage with others in a more relaxed environment.
  2. Get out of your comfort zone. It may be more appealing to attend a holiday party with your favorite sidekick, but having a buddy with you at all times or sticking with your clique can hinder your opportunities to network with others. Be willing to break free and start conversations with people you may not know well—including those in positions of power within your company.
  3. Have a goal. Never enter a networking opportunity without a goal in mind. What do you want to accomplish? Keep it simple. Perhaps your goal is to establish two or three new connections that have the potential to become business relationships.
  4. Participate. Don’t be a Scrooge. If the party is a themed party, such as an Ugly Sweater party, be sure to dress up! Be enthusiastic and excited to participate. This may seem small, but it can make a big difference in someone’s first impression of you.
  5. Arm yourself with business cards. It’s smart to come prepared in case someone asks for your card—but don’t hand them out to everyone you come in contact with.
  6. Know the right conversation starters. Start up a conversation by asking the other person about current events or trending books, but try to keep it light-hearted. Topics like politics should be off limits, but local news, sports and even questions about a recent vacation are good conversation starters. Once you’ve initiated the conversation, let it develop naturally toward business.
  7. Ask the right questions. Networking is all about getting to know the other person. A few suggested networking questions you might ask include: “How did you get into the industry?” “What are your goals for the new year?” “What do you like most about this job?” “What are some industry trends you think are worth watching?”
  8. Know your limits. Alcohol is almost always available at corporate holiday events and mixers, and when the party has an open bar, things can get especially dangerous. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one or two drinks, max. You must be able to maintain a professional composure, and you certainly don’t want to give others an impression of yourself you’ll later regret.

Make the most out of every opportunity to network with others, especially with leaders in your particular company or career field. You never know what might come of that conversation with your company’s CEO around the snack table at the company Christmas party.

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