The Holidays are a Great Time to Network!

In these times of such economic uncertainty, networking is essential to keeping you, your knowledge, and your profile current, as well as strengthening your connections, and initiating new professional contacts. All of these factors are important if you want to advance in your industry or seek out a new position or career in 2009.

But, don’t take a break now and wait until next year to restart your networking activities just because the holidays are approaching. In fact, the holiday season is a great time to continue your networking and even to make great inroads into acquiring a job that’s right for you. Because many job applicants think the holidays are a dormant period, they tend to halt their job quest between Thanksgiving and early January.

Continuing your networking can give you an advantage, whether your goal is to strengthen your network for career advancement or to land a new job at what is traditionally considered a down time for hirings. Keeping your name active during the holidays can build your connections at a time when there can be reduced competition for a job you are seeking, and increase your chances at gaining access to hiring managers and human resources personnel.

Here are four things you can do to increase your networking during the holidays:

1.      Keep Active. Call, e-mail, or write to your friends, former co-workers, and professional acquaintances, or reconnect with them through personal sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Let them know what you’ve been up to, what your plans are for next year, and wish them well for the holidays and the coming year.

2.      Mail Cards. Pick out some nondenominational holiday cards, and send them out to friends, professional associates, hiring managers, and human resources personnel whom you know. Keeping in touch with this group will strengthen your professional network, and help keep the lines of communication open for future advantage.

3.      Attend Parties. When invited to holiday parties and events, be sure to attend. These are great opportunities to meet new people, make new contacts, and extend your network. When asked, you can briefly explain your current circumstances, your career goals, and how you plan to achieve them. And, bring your business cards for such conversations.

4.      Make Calls. If you are currently seeking a new job, this is a great time to call hiring managers and human resources people whom you have contacted during your job search to see if anything new might be opening up. This networking can pay off in 2009 by making your name, profile, and image familiar and comfortable to them.