5 Tips for Networking During the Holidays
How to put some jingle into your holiday mingle.
Giving, receiving, and socializing. To me that describes the holiday season; but interestingly, it also describes networking. For me, the holiday time is a time to slow down, reconnect, and add a bit of jingle to my mingling skills!
5 Tips for Holiday Networking
In this two-part episode I’ll cover my top ten tips for beefing up your networking during the holiday season. Currently employed or not, don’t miss unique holiday opportunities for networking.
Depending on your industry, you could run into holiday slow-downs or absolute year-end chaos. If you are job hunting; that’s good news. With less support staff in the office, it means you’re more likely to have your phone call picked up directly by a manager. And even if they are not hiring at the moment because of the holidays, they are more likely grant informational interviews.
Even businesses facing their year-end chaos are a good bet. Although they are less likely to accommodate informational interviews, they may actually be more open to real interviews. Savvy managers want to fill their 2011 budgeted positions as soon as possible and may begin the process over the holidays so that new hires can start early in January.
Tip #1: Send Creative Holiday Cards To Connect with Your Network
Whether you are job hunting or not, the holiday season provides an opportunity stay in touch with your entire network. Like many professionals, I like to take advantage of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years with a “1,2,3 punch” card sending strategy. (What’s that you say? You missed your Thanksgiving opportunity? Don’t worry, you can start now and end with Valentines Day.) The idea is to develop a creative three-part message that arrives in three installments (like you sometimes see done with billboards).
Make your cards brief, festive, upbeat, fun (something you would show to a friend), and maybe even a bit mysterious. If you’re job hunting you can add a P.S. “By the way I’m looking for xyz position.” You could also include a web address to LinkedIn or an online career summary, or better yet, a link to your website and blog.
Tip #2: Target Specific People to Expand Your Professional Network
Someone once told me, “If you want to make a million dollars, hang out with millionaires!” I like to use holiday time as a reminder to think about which VIPs (very influential people) I’d like to target in the coming year. Although I do know one or two millionaires, for me, I enjoy collaborating with smart, motivated professionals. It’s inspiring and I usually learn a great deal.
So each year at holiday time, I use Twitter Search, Google Blogs, and LinkedIn to find VIPs whom I would like to add to my network. I try to target 3 or 4 successful people who I admire. I send a holiday greeting to break the ice and start a conversation. Then I look back at my list from previous years see how I am doing with my relationship building. My goal is to continue to move forward towards stronger relationships--and the holidays are always are a good excuse to reconnect with everyone in your network.
Tip #3: Create Special Holiday Blog Posts or Podcast Episodes
If you have a blog or a podcast (or are planning to start one) you’ll be happy to know that podcast listening goes up over the holidays as people are given new devices as gifts. Take advantage of this rush to be heard by creating special “holiday” editions that will appeal to your ideal target audience. Perhaps you tie in Santa in someway--maybe a chiropractor writes about how he is giving Santa much needed adjustments during the holidays. Or perhaps you’re a communication specialist (like me) and you write a post about how to enjoy holiday parties through better mingling skills. Who knows, you might even get picked up by the media if you write an especially creative post. (Hint, Hint, I’m available for interview!)
Tip #4: Send a Surprise to Key People in Your Professional Network
The holidays provide an opportunity to give gifts. Consider sending a small holiday surprise by mail to a few “tweeple” (Twitter people or anyone in your professional network) that have helped you the most in the past year. If you are in job search mode, don’t forget to include good recruiters in your industry.
A unique present will make you memorable. Think about the person you want to impress. What do they like? What are they trying to achieve? Keep in mind that you want your gift to stand out, so avoid the typical chocolate or bath product. I plan to send a bit of fun this year—things that I know will bring smiles and laughter to receivers.
Tip #5: Send Business or Referrals to Members of Your Professional Network
Another type kind of gift altogether is the gift of business. Everybody appreciates a heartfelt referral or endorsement of his products and services. After all, word of mouth drives sales better than any other type of marketing. Consider mentioning a business in your newsletter, recommend people in a book or your blog, and/or provide them with favorable reviews on LinkedIn, their blog, or even Amazon. Alternatively, put someone in your network in contact with someone else who you know can help them. Oh, and depending on your goals, you may want to be sure the person knows where these helpful tributes and referral came from.
Next week, join me for five more tips.
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