Networking for Success This Holiday Season

shutterstock_218066023With the holidays upon us and the year’s end quickly approaching, many career seekers take a hiatus from career searching this time of year. Therefore, December is a great time to look for new career opportunities since the potential candidate pool is traditionally less populated.

With the number of people you may be exposed to this holiday season, there is a great possibility of making new connections. To productively use this time and grow your sphere of influence, UMUC Career Services Associate Vice President Francine Blume shares a few tips on how to network and turn your social events into career opportunities in the new year.

Tip 1: Making the Introduction

The objective for networking is building a connection.  Therefore, at a social gathering, ask a friend or family member to introduce you to someone who they currently have a connection with. To help start and sustain a conversation with a new connection, identify common areas of interest – such as your career field or hobbies – to give the person a chance to get to know you. Then, redirect the conversation to your skill sets and things you hope to accomplish professionally in the new year.

Tip 2: Dressing the Part

When attending holiday events, make sure you familiarize yourself with the dress code beforehand. It is not necessary to overdress for the occasion, but you do not want to under dress either. Also, since many of the holiday functions you attend may not take place in a professional setting, be mindful of your personal conduct, especially with regards to social settings. Simply keep the audience in mind that you will be meeting. Click here for additional tips on how to dress for different settings.

Tip 3: Keeping in Touch

Once the connection has been formed, devise a plan during the initial conversation on the best ways to keep in touch. After the initial meeting, follow up within a few days with a “thank you” note either via mail or email to reiterate it was nice meeting them, and provide a call-to-action regarding next steps. Whether this is a formal meeting to specifically discuss career opportunities, or an introduction to an HR manager at a company you want to seek employment at, make sure the call-to-action is clear and concise.

Enjoy yourself this holiday season. Use the time as a chance to celebrate your accomplishments, and reflect on the things you want to accomplish next year. Remember, you never know how your connections today will turn into an opportunity tomorrow.