Holiday Networking for Young Professionals & Career Shifters

1610-john-linkBy John Link

The holiday season is a prime opportunity to reconnect with family and friends (and meet new contacts, too). While summarizing highlights from 2016, it’s a great time to incorporate key career messaging into your conversations. Approach your holiday themed socials with these helpful networking tips on hand.

 

  1. Develop a plan. Writing down a list of contacts, beginning with your friends and family, can help plan conversations at holiday socials. You’ll be surprised with the amount of contacts who land on your list.
  2. With your contacts in mind, think about the information you want to collect. If you’re a career shifter, think about the career you’re interested in, and who may be helpful with providing information. If you’re still working toward your degree, this is a prime opportunity to expand your career tool kit. You can target your contact network to set up informational interviews, and receive leads for practical experiences while you’re completing your degree.
  3. Know what to say, and when to say it. Your professional identity may not be on full display at a holiday social with extended family, friends, and new contacts, but it’s a great time to put to use the list of contacts you already collected. Networking shouldn’t feel icky – if it does, you’re not doing is correctly. When catching up, find balance with summarizing what you’re currently doing professionally, what you previously have done (in the range of a year, or the last time you have connected with the person you’re speaking to), and what the future looks holds for you. This formula should be concise, and feel organic, not rehearsed.
  4. Stay connected. While the holiday season comes and goes so quickly, coordinate schedules post-holiday with your new networking contacts to keep the dialogue moving.  Networking is about building sustainable relationships, and this requires time and effort!

Networking is a skill that requires practice and discipline. The more opportunities you have to communicate with your contact network, the more comfortable you will be.

 

John Link is the Assistant Director in the Webster University Career Planning & Development Center.