The best networking event of the year
The words ‘holiday party’ send a collective shiver up the spine of corporate America.
Whether you’re the type who counts down the days until your office holiday event, or you’re the type who dreads the thought of being locked in a room with tipsy colleagues, the holiday party will always be a sensitive point for workers across the US.
At Proven Recruiting, holiday parties can’t be reduced to a few embarrassing memories – instead, we see them as moments of connection which can span hierarchies, divisions, and teams. Depending on the size of your company, these parties may be your only opportunity to network with people outside your area of expertise; an invaluable opening.
Don’t miss this chance to frame yourself in the best light. Here’s your go-to game plan:
Go in with a goal.
Like all good plans, this one only works if you have a specific goal in mind. Before the night of the party, decide on what, in particular, you’d like to get out of the event.
Do you want to improve your relationship with one of your managers? Perhaps you’ve been wanting to reach out to a colleague in another department, but have struggled to start the conversation? Or maybe you are relatively new, and just want to grow closer with your team.
Whatever your aim, the holiday party presents the ideal warm introduction. Everyone is feeling bubbly and friendly, and they’ll be happy to speak to you so long as you are genuine and respectful.
Just remember – this is an after-hours event, and most people won’t want to discuss work. Introduce yourself, get the conversation rolling, appeal to their better nature, and follow up with details during work hours – when the conversation is more appropriate.
Speak to four or more people you’ve never before met or hardly know.
In addition to your primary goal, make it your mission to meet and briefly speak with at least four new people. Guaranteed, you’ll significantly boost your social capital at the office.
The wider your network, the better you’ll be able to accomplish your day-to-day work. You’ll know who to talk to in another department, or which person may be most helpful in a tricky situation. For a list of conversation-starters, check out our Ultimate Guide to Networking.
Even better than generic networking events, these people are immediately available to you and valuable to your work. No wondering ‘what will come of this connection’ – the answer is already obvious. Making strangers into colleagues, and colleagues into friends, can only be rewarding in the long run.
Tell people you’ll reach out, and actually follow through.
The worst thing you can do is leave people hanging. What was the point in the first place, if you’re not going to make your connections stick?
End your conversations while they’re still interesting – not when you’ve both grown bored and antsy – and assure your colleague that you’ll follow up by email next week or after the holidays. Ask them to grab lunch, or if you can stop by their office for a chat. Nothing overly committal, but an act of good faith and friendship.
Since you both likely work in the same building, and may even share a similar schedule, it should be easy to organize a casual lunch. Just send them a quick email or stop by their desk. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Holiday parties don’t have to be cringe-inducing; in fact, they’re a perfect opportunity to flex your social muscles and make some great connections, without the pressure or awkwardness of a formal networking event. Approach people with a friendly handshake and an open mind, and you’ll be surprised by how many people appreciate the intro.
What other questions can we answer about networking? As recruiters, networking is kind of our bread and butter. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more networking and career advice.