‘Tis the season for…NETWORKING! For many, December is filled with countless holiday parties. Whether you relish the opportunity to get dressed up, or you’re solely in it for the eggnog, the holiday party is the ideal place to make new connections that will further your career. These gatherings are a time when people let their hair down and are (hopefully) in the spirit of giving. Walk into your next event armed with these 5 networking tips, so you can make the most of this holiday season:
- Teamwork: A few years ago I read the book, Work the Pond! Use the Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Work and Life, by Gayle Hallgren-Rezac and Judy Thomson. One of the best suggestions I took away was to “tag-team” when networking. This means that you work the room in pairs. Each teammate aids in making introductions and ensures the other is always engaged in comfortable chit-chat. Before hitting your next party, discuss with your date or friend your networking goals for the evening. Being on the same page will allow you to meet the right people and have conversations that will help boost your career and exposure.
- Preparation – Walk into the soiree with some talking points, or questions ready. Taking the time to do your homework about the guests and their interests can help build camaraderie and talking points. It will also save you from the dreaded awkward silence. Ask people about their plans for the holiday, a highlight from the past year, new business ventures, and what they are looking forward to in 2015.
- Attire – The holiday party is a chance to show off your festive wear. However, keep in mind that you still have to see these people in the office, or in daily life. While I never shy away from a chance to sport a stylish party dress, it’s important to still look business-appropriate. Don’t show up in costume, or anything too revealing. Keep it classy!
- Business Cards – As an actor, you might find it silly to have business cards. I say, au contraire! I’ve been carrying my own personal business cards for years. I even received a call from a TV producer months after being introduced to him. He told me he went through his wallet and found my bright red card and then contacted me. Invest in yourself and get your own business cards made at moo.com or overnightprints.com. Make sure to exchange cards at the holiday party and keep in touch.
- Thank You – Make a lasting impression on the host of the party by following up the evening with a “Thank You” card. In your note share how much you appreciated the invitation and compliment something specific from the event. I guarantee this will make the host’s day and leave them thinking about you long after the holiday season comes to an end.
Take advantage of all the parties this time of year and use them as a way to expand your professional network. You never know who you might meet and how they can further your career aspirations. Plus, it’s fun! Happy Holidays and Happy Networking.