It’s the holiday season and in no time at all our schedules will be full of parties, celebrations, shopping and white elephants. It’s an incredibly fast two months to wind up a great year. Are you ready?
Every gathering and holiday errand is an opportunity to make a new friend or professional connection. If you’re a job seeker, you may just encounter a person who can get you an interview at your dream job. If you’re an HR manager, you may get the referral of a lifetime and find the leader you’ve been looking for. I challenge you to make the most of this season and raise your expectations for these types of events.
1. It’s Easier to Meet People and Have Genuine Conversations
If you are about to begin a career search or are in the middle of one, this time of the year is a gift for you! On the holiday party route, it’s the easiest time to meet people who are usually in good spirits, and these connecting opportunities are gold. Happy people, dressed up for a holiday party are more inclined to be kind and generous (unless of course, they are a Scrooge through-and-through). Take advantage of the “good spirits” and be genuine. Don’t be afraid to share about your current situation and the opportunities you are looking for. You never know who your new friend may be connected to, and the doors they could open for you.
The same is true for hiring managers. If you’re in HR, you know the value of networking. This is truly the best time of the year to network since people are overall “merry”. Don your “gay apparel” (or holiday sweater), drink some eggnog and prepare to meet potential new candidates!
2. New Connections are More Willing to Meet Up
Often people write off this time of year and assume that it’s not a good time to ask for a meeting. I challenge you to rethink this. New connections you met at the recent holiday party may be more willing to set apart some time to meet you. This time of year, everyone is out and about running errands or preparing for festivities. Consider setting up meetings before or after running to the Mall to pick up a gift (this time of year nothing feels better than checking an extra something off the “to-do” list). After you’ve made a new connection, don’t be afraid to ask them if they’d like to meet up at the Nordstrom cafe, or at a lunch spot near the Outlets. You’d be surprised at how inclined people are to meet and connect with you during this busy season.
3. Infinite Icebreaker Ideas
Do you have an icebreaker ready? Usually my “go to” is to talk about the weather. During the holidays however, there are so many more subjects top of mind for people that make starting a conversation more natural. Long check out lines, the latest must-have gadget, holiday punch recipes, ugly sweaters, fruit cake… the list goes on. These subjects transcend religion, background and profession. Nearly everyone you encounter at holiday parties has experienced something “seasonal” you both can relate to. Speak up, break the ice and make a meaningful connection!
4. Low Pressure Environment
At holiday parties, it’s a great time to meet people where the environment is not “high stakes” and “I NEED A JOB” isn’t on the forefront of your mind. On your holiday party route you will meet people on both sides of the conversation — those looking for their next opportunity and those who are looking to fill positions. These conversations may lead to your next opportunity, or you can open a door for someone else. Be open minded and listen!
5. Everyone is Thinking About New Year’s Resolutions and Q4 Deadlines
In the midst of all the holiday “hustle and bustle” there is still that reminder in the back of your mind of what needs to happen before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Hiring managers may still have a position to fill last minute. Or perhaps they are lining up candidates to fill a position on the 1st of the year. Regardless, Santa is not the only one who is making a list. At a holiday party you may find yourself in the right place at the right time and make a fortunate connection that will change the course of your career.
Now it’s time to “be merry” and tackle your holiday parties with high expectations this year. Happy networking and of course, happy holidays!
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