The end of 2022 is upon us, with people celebrating a variety of holidays or just waiting for some time off.
And while you may be making plans with friends and family in the coming weeks, this time of year is also an opportunity to strengthen your professional networks. “The holidays present a very natural opening to reconnect with others,” says Amanda Augustine, TopResume’s career expert.
This is how experts recommend taking advantage of this time of year to network.
‘Take your contacts and basically group them together’
Who you target depends on your goal.
There could be co-workers, bosses or mentors that you have become close with; colleagues you see regularly but are not as close as friends; and acquaintances you’ve met once or twice at a conference or maybe even a job interview.
For people you know you’d like to reach out to, “take your contacts and basically group them into, ‘I just want to touch base and say hello to these people,'” Augustine says, and, “here’s my little group that I I would really love to try and strike up some kind of conversation or send you a more meaningful note.
The size of these groups depends on how much time you would like to spend. But if reaching a dozen or more people feels overwhelming, just focus on that group A, say, three to five people.
‘I’m a big fan, always, of the physical card’
There are several ways to send your holiday cheer.
E-cards can work, as well as personalized emails, Augustine says. For that small group of three to five, you can even send physical cards.
“I’m a big fan, always, take the physical card if you can,” says Angelina Darrisaw, career coach and founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach. She adds that, “I’ve had people I sent thank-you notes or holiday cards keep on their desks for a long time.”
If you’re dividing your contacts into groups A and B, group B can receive eCards, for example, and group A can receive personalized emails or physical cards. Augustine recommends avoiding LinkedIn for this type of communication. “It just feels a little less personal,” she says.
Could be ‘just a quick thank you note’
When it comes to what to write in your notes, first, make sure you’re inclusive, says Darrisaw.
“Not everyone celebrates Christmas,” he says, “people celebrate all different kinds of holidays depending on their religion.” And, for some, the holidays can be a triggering moment. That being the case, for those whose traditions they’re unfamiliar with, “one of the safest bets is always to recognize that a new year is coming,” she says.
Beyond that, “it can be a very generic message where you just wish them the best, and maybe provide a couple of lines and update them on your life and work,” Augustine says. Or it could be, “just a quick thank you note about how the past year was with that person and maybe something you’re looking forward to,” says Darrisaw.
Try to include at least one line in each of those messages that is specific to them, says Augustine. It is quite easy to monitor people’s personal or professional lives through social networks like Instagram and LinkedIn. Use the information you have to personalize the note and let them know you’re paying attention.
If it’s someone you’re hoping to catch up with, stick to one email and add a line like “I’d love to catch up, do you have time between Thanksgiving and New Years?” says Augustine. Even if they don’t, you can set something up for early 2023.
Don’t forget face-to-face events
When should you start sending your electronic cards, emails or physical cards?
“It’s really going to be based on your own timing,” Augustine says, “but you can basically send them now, I’d say, even during the first week or so of the new year.” However, the sooner you send them out, the sooner you can be on people’s radars.
One thing both Augustine and Darrisaw emphasize about the holiday season: When you’re invited to in-person holiday parties, whether professional or personal, go.
“This is a great time to build relationships and also to build some of that informal connection that happens outside of the office,” says Darrisaw, adding that “if you have the ability to go, I would definitely attend.”
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