The Expat Woman

Networking during the Holidays

Myth #1: “No one is hiring around the holidays”

Myth #2: “It’s not a good time to job search or connect with professional contacts”

These are absolute misconceptions. Companies are still hiring, there is still action and often things slow down a bit, allowing for hiring managers to take some time to set up for the new year, with new staff. This time of year is ripe with networking opportunities.

Take advantage of what the holidays bring. Social engagements, work related parties, events, and gatherings can all be fun ways to network. The holidays are a wonderful opportunity to renew connections with social and professional contacts, and build new relationships with people.

What is unique about networking at this time of year is that people might be a bit out of their normal “modus operandi” (normal way of being). The holidays bring a very different kind of energy for people (and some Americans get a little out of sync and even stressed out and anxious around the holidays). Many networking events around the holidays are focused on celebration, reflection, and the joy of relationships and connections. Professional networking still happens, yet under the umbrella of a social and more personal emphasis. Networking overall, and at any time of year, is truly about authentic CONNECTION with others, and you can make the experience a joyful and stress free one.

Use this time to get out there and meet people, and enjoy yourself!

That’s the whole point of life, you know? To meet new people. – Sherman Alexie

Tips on holiday networking:

Say yes. Be open to as many events as you and your calendar, can balance and handle.

Give yourself the opportunity to be open to whatever comes your way. Say yes to invitations, even those you might otherwise overlook or say no to. Be open to new conversations, possibilities, ideas, and opportunities.

Step outside your comfort zone

Make the effort to meet new people. It’s easy to stay in the “familiar faces group”. Go over to the groups and individuals who you don’t know and introduce yourself. Particularly, to those who seem to be hanging out solo or standing alone. He/she may be the most interesting person in the room! Engage with new faces by taking the first step to reach out to say hello.

Let go of a hard and fast job/career focused agenda. Mission: to enjoy yourself and the opportunity to make new connections.

Be prepared (i.e., your marketing pitch finessed for the occasion, and doing your homework as to who might be at the event), yet enjoy the experience of meeting new people. Doing so can take off some pressure to “perform”. Opportunities present themselves and often arise organically when we are genuinely connecting with others. Attend events with the purpose of enjoying yourself.

Be present

Stay focused on enjoying the moment and the experience. Try,“I wonder who I might meet tonite?” instead of, “I hope that I meet someone who can help me in my job search!”. Listen intently with your whole heart to each person you meet. Stay aware, and present, whether that means not having too much to drink, or taking deep breaths before walking through the door. By staying in tune and clear headed, we make connecting with others easier.

Be curious

Ask questions first: be curious and interested in the person before you share all about yourself. Engaging others pulls them in and develops a stronger rapport more quickly.

Set the stage to shine your best self at all networking opportunities

Be in gratitude. Often, any time of transition or even the holidays for that matter, can bring up unpleasant and uncomfortable feelings and anxiety. Holding a feeling of gratitude, can shift a sense of scarcity and lack (i.e., job or career opportunities that may not be yet coming our way) and can bring a joyful perspective and allow you to bring your best self to any networking event. Try the simple daily practice of keeping a gratitude journal and writing down three things, people, events, or aspects of your life you are fully grateful for.

Share your gratitude – send thanks

Send a post-event thank you to the host (particularly when a social event). *Of course, make a point to personally thank the host/hostess in person, before leaving from any event.

Follow up

Follow up with people you met at an event, and want to stay connected to, within a few days.

Create and host your own holiday networking event!

Be the host of a holiday party happy hour, or any type of networking event that brings people together. Organize your own event, and invite those you know and encourage them to bring others. You create the opportunity to reconnect with friends, and acquaintances, and meet new people at the same time!

Send holiday wishes to those in your network – no matter how much time has passed

(It’s never too late to re-establish a contact! *Note: Americans often may not be in regular contact with some of their social or professional contacts throughout the year, yet the holiday season serves as the perfect time to reach out to those are out of touch with.)

Send messages via LinkedIn, email or via a lovely handwritten holiday card. Reach out and connect in a heartfelt genuine way. Revisit your networks, whether through LinkedIn, or that excel spreadsheet you created with contacts you made over the year. Make a list of who you want to send holiday cheer to, and perhaps reconnect with, and even invite for a coffee chat.

Personalize your holiday greeting. Avoid mass email holiday greetings or generic messages. Personalize your warm holiday wishes, yet be inclusive with your holiday message (i.e., warm wishes for a happy healthy holiday season, or Happy Holidays, instead of a “Merry Christmas”)

Enjoy this holiday season and I wish you a joyful, healthy, abundant, happy, fun holiday season filled with many unexpected and wondrous opportunities! Be well.

Thank you to our contributing expert : 
Rebekah Kane (kane.rebekah@gmail.com), spends her time between Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. She is a coach, educator, and intercultural trainer, with experience training, advising, and coaching professional adults along their career and life changing journeys. She empowers and supports women in career and life transitions, cultural adjustment and in pursuit of their personal and professional development goals and dreams.

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Nyna is the Founder and CEO of The Expat Woman, a global platform focused on connecting, supporting and empowering women who have moved abroad or plan to relocate. She is also a LinkedIn coach, consultant, trainer and speaker. LinkedIn played a huge role in my professional journey abroad, helping me build a network of powerful expat women and allies.

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