The approaching holiday season provides new professionals and law students with multiple opportunities to make new contacts and deepen relationships that already exist. To make the most of these events, use these strategies:
Attend every holiday party and reception to which you are invited. Holiday get-togethers are important opportunities for you to connect with colleagues, clients and even potential future employers. As soon as an invitation arrives, R.S.V.P. indicating that you will attend. (Once you have conveyed your intent to attend, only an absolute emergency excuses your absence.) If several events have been scheduled on a single day, make an appearance at as many as possible.
Keep communications festive. Holiday parties are intended to be happy, social gatherings. They are not the time to press for feedback, lodge a complaint, or ask for a job. Be prepared to congratulate others on their 2019 accomplishments. If party chit-chat is not your forte, ask others about their holiday plans and demonstrate a genuine interest in what they say.
Use holiday events to build your network. Introduce yourself to lots of people, especially people who you don’t know well. To ensure that you focus on connecting rather than eating, before you head to the party, eat a small snack. When you arrive, request a beverage and hold it in your left hand. This will help you look comfortable and approachable. If hunger pangs overtake, grab a nibble that you can eat neatly. But please, never make the mistake of obtaining both food and beverage at the same time. Keep your right hand always available for a warm handshake.
Send holiday greetings (paper or electronic) to all of your contacts. This is a great way to place your name in front of others one more time before the year ends. To the extent that you take time to add a personal note—one or two sentences will suffice—you will become more memorable.
Use the winter break to reconnect face-to-face. Many organizations experience their quietest time of year between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Key decision makers, especially those who have chosen not to take a vacation, may have more time than usual to meet with you. Take a risk this holiday season and reach out to at least one person who you have always wanted to meet but haven’t yet. A single meeting request may turn into a new opportunity.
Develop your 2020 networking goals. Evaluate your current network by asking several questions, including: Who do you need to know? Who can help you make a connection with a potential key contact or prospective employer? How should you reach out to that person? Then, decide when you will connect with these people and what you should say to or ask of them. Make a commitment to reach out to at least one new contact per month, and by the end of 2020, you will have significantly expanded your network.
To read more advice from Mary Crane, visit her website.