VOL. 129 | NO. 242 | Friday, December 12, 2014
Networking to the New Year
By Angela Copeland
December is my favorite time of year for networking. It sounds a little crazy, right? The holidays are for family and loved ones. It’s a time of gift giving, cookie baking, and sing-alongs. It’s a time to visit those you haven’t seen in over a year, and if you’re lucky, to build snowmen with your children.
It’s also a time of something else very special – holiday parties! There are many wonderful perks to these great parties, but I’ll focus on just a few.
Let’s start with the fluff. First, they’re fun. They’re typically at unique venues you might not have seen before, and they’re decorated with beautiful trees, ornaments and other holiday flair. Often free events, they provide complimentary food and drinks to the guests. And they’re typically the kind of party you can drop into at a convenient time, rather than having a fixed start time.
But much more importantly, they give you a chance to reconnect with those in your professional network you haven’t seen in a while. Everyone’s in a cheerful mood. It’s a perfect time to learn what your friends have been up to, and share your job searching news. Of course, you want to relay any sensitive information very carefully. Your search should remain a secret from your current employer as you don’t want to jeopardize your position.
If you’re not sure where the holiday parties are this year, search the websites of leadership organizations and clubs you’re a member of. The Memphis Holiday Events Guide on the I Love Memphis Blog is also a great source of information.
It’s important to plan ahead, as you may need to leave work early to attend, or to make arrangements for your children or pets. Many of the events also require an advanced RSVP.
Be sure to bring plenty of business cards. If you don’t already have some, order them. In addition to seeing old contacts, you’ll make new ones. Don’t be shy about giving out your business cards; you’ll almost always get one in return.
During the event, it’s important to be aware of how much alcohol you consume. You’re there to network and reconnect, so you want to put your best foot forward. Overindulgence can leave a lasting negative impression on the other guests.
After the holiday party, plan to come home and reconnect with everyone you spoke with again via the Internet. Send individual emails letting each person know how nice it was to see them. If possible, mention something you spoke about. Then, check LinkedIn to be sure you’re already connected. If not, send the person a new LinkedIn connection request.
Holiday parties are a wonderful, cost-effective way to network yourself into the New Year. If you make a point to attend two or more events per week, you’ll find that you will have reconnected with a large portion of your local network. Keeping your network fresh will help to accelerate your job search as you ramp up your efforts in January.
Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” She also hosts the Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).