The holidays provide a chance to increase your visibility and expand your network, both at your company and within your broader circle. Because face time is so rare, it’s good to have a game plan to make the most of these opportunities.
Remember, company and industry functions are still work. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have a good time; just understand that your actions can have ramifications well beyond the party. Most of us know of people who’ve had too much to drink or acted inappropriately at a company function.
Decide in advance what you’d like to accomplish. Maybe you want to learn more about another part of the company or get more information about new initiatives. Or deepen your relationship with a few colleagues. Perhaps you want to meet 5 people who are connected to an industry you’re interested in. Or maybe you’d like to connect with 10 new industry acquaintances in order to expand your network.
By the way, this is not about interviewing with a cocktail in your hand. While you’ll have an agenda, you don’t want it to be visible to others—it’s off-putting and could sound scripted. Allow conversations to flow naturally and work in your requests appropriately. This is about identifying and connecting with people. It’s also about reciprocity. It’s important to help others achieve their objectives as well.
Once you have a goal in mind, think specifically about what you’d like out of these interactions. People want to help, and it will be easier for them to do so if you can tell them what you’re looking for. Perhaps you want to meet people who have transitioned from one industry to another, or maybe you’re looking for technical knowledge, such as how a new platform or tech tool is being incorporated into marketing efforts. Whatever it is, think about what you’re looking for in advance so you can ask for ideas.
Ask others how you can help them. Remember, this is the gift-giving season and one of the best gifts you can give is of yourself. Follow up after the event with any information you promised, or just send a quick note to reinforce whatever you discussed. If you’ve met new people, follow up with a LinkedIn invite and suggest a quick coffee or lunch to start building your relationship. These are strategic ways of keeping your holiday party momentum going.