How to network over the holidays

The end of 2022 is upon us, with people celebrating a series of holidays or simply looking forward to some time out.

And while you may be making plans with friends and family in the coming weeks, this time of year is also an opportunity to strengthen your professional networks. “The holidays just provide a very natural opportunity to reconnect with others,” said Amanda Augustine, careers expert at TopResume.

Experts recommend using this time of year for networking.

“Take your contacts and basically group them”

Who you contact depends on your goal.

There might be co-workers, bosses, or mentors that you’ve become close; Colleagues you see regularly but are not as close as friends; and acquaintances you’ve met once or twice at a conference or maybe even at a job interview.

For the people you know you want to reach out to, “take your contacts and basically group them into, ‘I just want to touch base and say hello to these people,'” Augustine says, and “here’s mine smaller A group I’d really like to try and form some kind of conversation with” or send a more meaningful message to.

The size of these groups depends on how much time you want to invest. However, if you feel overwhelmed reaching a dozen or more people, just focus on that A group, say three to five people.

“I’ve always been a big fan of the physical map”

There are several ways to send your end-of-the-year cheer.

E-cards can work, as can personalized email, Augustine says. You can even send physical cards for this small group of three to five people.

“I’m always a big fan of the physical map when you can,” says Angelina Darrisaw, career coach and founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach. She adds, “I’ve had people that I’ve sent thank-you notes or Christmas cards that they’ve kept on their desks for a really long time.”

For example, if you split your contacts into A and B groups, the B group can receive e-cards and the A group can receive personalized emails or physical cards. Augustine recommends avoiding LinkedIn for this type of communication. It “just feels a little less personal,” she says.

It could be ‘just a quick thank you note’

When it comes to what you write in your notes, first make sure you’re comprehensive, says Darrisaw.

“Not everyone celebrates Christmas,” she says. “People celebrate all kinds of holidays, depending on their religion.” And for some, the holidays can be a triggering time. For those whose traditions you’re unfamiliar with, “one of the safest bets is always to recognize that a new year is coming,” she says.

Additionally, “It can be a very general message where you just wish them well and maybe provide a few lines and update them about your life and work,” Augustine says. Or it could be, “Just a quick thank you note about how your last year with this person has been and maybe something you’re looking forward to,” says Darrisaw.

In each of those messages, try to include at least one line that’s specific to them, Augustine says. It’s easy enough to keep track of people’s personal or professional lives through social networks like Instagram and LinkedIn. Use the information you have to personalize the note and let them know you’re paying attention.

If it’s someone you want to meet up with, stick to email and add a line like, “I’d like to catch up, do you have time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s?” says Augustine. Even if it doesn’t, you can set something up for early 2023.

Don’t forget about in-person events

When should you start sending out your e-cards, emails or physical cards?

“It’s really going to be based on your own time,” Augustine says, “but you can basically send these now, I’d say even into the first week of the new year.” However, the sooner you send them out, the sooner you can get on people’s radar.

One thing both Augustine and Darrisaw emphasize about the holiday season—if you’re invited to personal Christmas parties, be it work or pleasure, go.

“This is a great time for relationship building and also for some of the informal connections that happen outside of the office,” says Darrisaw, adding, “If you have the capacity to go, I would definitely attend.”

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