Why the holiday season is a great time for networking

By Nik Crain
Nov. 19, 2015

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the holidays are around the corner. 

As implausible as that sounds given the pounds of Halloween candy you still have to finish, the truth is your lunches will soon be filled with leftover turkey sandwiches and your Friday evenings with awkward office holiday parties. Don’t let that cold, dry (yes, I’m talking about the turkey) reality get you down. The holidays can be a wonderful time for your career.

Why can a time when much of the U.S. working world is out of the office be a good time for your career? Here are a few reasons:

The holidays are social. Networking is social. Networking is good for your career… You get the point.

This is the time of year to kick your networking into high gear. Those holiday parties, bowl game viewings, long lines at the mall and New Year’s Eve soirées are all opportunities to connect with new people in your career space. They are NOT good times to carry around résumés and try out your new grit pitch. They are, however, good opportunities to listen to people.

Listen to their career paths. Listen to their daily work routines. Listen to descriptions of management structure and office culture. Listen to the skill sets their company looks for and the values they want in their employees. Listen to their professional frustrations and rewards.

They are good times to swap contact information and send on-the-spot LinkedIn connection requests. They are, in short, good opportunities to gather information, think about your next career move and have a fresh set of contacts that can alert you to future opportunities at their organizations.

And why might there be new opportunities at their organizations? Because the holidays are the time that resolutions get made and bonuses get paid. We’ve all been there: “A new year — a new you!” Some people actually act on their motivational slogans. For some, it’s eating better. For others, it’s exercising more. For many, it’s breaking up their career monotony and moving into something new.

Starting a new year on January 1 is motivation enough to job hunt for some. Others may have wanted to leave for a long time but have been holding out for holiday or annual bonuses before making an exit. Whatever the motivation, there is frequently job churn early in the year and organizations are looking to replace the employees they’ve lost.

Since approximately 60 percent of hires come from internal promotions or internal referrals, those contacts you make during your holiday shopping and partying can be the key to hearing about new openings at organizations you’re interested in.

Of course, holiday networking isn’t just about the new contacts. At their best, the holidays are about connecting with important people in your life.

This is the time of year when you don’t need an “excuse” to reach out and connect to that long-lost coworker, mentor, supervisor, college roommate or Peace Corps site mate. Drop them a line to say hi. Give a quick update… and it’s perfectly appropriate to include some thoughts about what you’re looking for in your next career move, because the holidays just might be the perfect time to make it.

Whether you’re actively looking for a new role or just open to the possibility of a career change, the holidays can offer a unique combination of networking possibilities and job opportunities. Don’t wait until after January 1 to start working towards a “new career you” — start the fun work of engaging with people now. Like a third trip to the eggnog bowl, you never know where it’ll lead you.

This story first appeared on Medium

Nik Crain