The end of 2022 is upon us, with people celebrating an array of holidays or simply looking forward to some time off.
And while you might be making plans with friends and family in the coming weeks, this time of year is an opportunity to strengthen your professional networks as well. "The holidays just present a very natural opening for reconnecting with others," says Amanda Augustine, a career expert at TopResume.
Here's how experts recommend taking advantage of this time of year to network.
'Take your contacts and basically group them'
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Who you reach out to depends on your objective.
There could be co-workers, bosses, or mentors you've gotten close to; colleagues who you see on a regular basis but aren't as close as friends; and acquaintances you've met once or twice at a conference or maybe even on a job interview.
For the 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 hi to these people,'" says Augustine, and, "'here's my small A group that I'd really love to try and set up some sort of conversation with'" or send a more meaningful note to.
How big these groups are depends on how much time you'd like to put in. But if reaching out to a dozen or more people feels overwhelming, just focus on that A group, say, three to five people.
'I am a huge fan, always, of the physical card'
There are several ways to go about sending your end-of-year cheer.
E-cards can work, as well as personalized emails, says Augustine. For that small group of three to five, you can even send out physical cards.
"I am a huge fan, always, of 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 folks that I've sent thank you notes to or holiday cards to that have kept them on their desk for a really long time."
If you are splitting up your contacts into A and B groups, the B group can get e-cards, for example, and the A group can get personalized emails or physical cards. Augustine recommends avoiding LinkedIn for this kind of communication. It "just feels a little less personal," she says.
It could be 'just a quick thank you note'
When it comes to what to write in your notes, first, make sure to be inclusive, says Darrisaw.
"Everyone doesn't celebrate Christmas," she says, "folks celebrate all different kinds of holidays based upon their religion." And, for some, the holidays can be a triggering time. That being the case, for those whose traditions you're not familiar with, "One of the safest bets is always recognizing that a new year is coming," she says.
Beyond that, "It can be a very generic message where you're just wishing them well, and maybe providing a couple lines and updating them on your life and your work," says Augustine. Or, it could be, "just a quick thank you note of what your past year was like with that person and maybe something you're looking forward to," says Darrisaw.
Try to throw in at least one line in each of those messages that's specific to them, says Augustine. It's easy enough to keep tabs on people's personal or professional lives through social networks like Instagram and LinkedIn. Use what 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 an email and add a line like, "I would 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 about in-person events
When should you start sending out your e-cards, emails, or physical cards?
"It's really going to be based on your own time," says Augustine, "But you can basically send these now, I'd say, through even the first week or so of the new year." The sooner you send them out, though, the sooner you can get on people's radars.
One thing both Augustine and Darrisaw stress about the holiday season ― when you're invited to in-person holiday parties, be they professional or person, go.
"This is a great time to build relationships and to also build some of that informal connection that happens outside of the office," says Darrisaw, adding that, "If you have the capacity to go, I would definitely attend."
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