Holiday gatherings with family and friends over the holidays create an excellent opportunity to build your career networking. Think about it. People are usually in a much better mood during the holiday season, and therefore may be open to more casual conversation than normal. In fact, the holiday season is full of social events, which can provide excellent opportunities for face-to-face networking. With that in mind, here are a few tips to consider, to help maximize your networking efforts while you're out socializing during the holiday season:

Holiday Gatherings

Whether you're at an office holiday party or a social event with friends and family, chances are there will be folks in attendance that you've never met before. Instead of solely socializing with your immediate circle of friends, consider taking advantage of the opportunity to introduce yourself to people you don't know. After all, isn't that was networking is all about – getting to know people you don't. By doing so, you're literally building your network, and that one new person you meet could possibly pay big dividends for you later on in the future!

Don't just talk about you, get to know other people.

Strong networks are built on strong relationships. Be careful not to spend too much time talking merely about you, what you do, what you want to do, etc. While you certainly should speak to your personal interest (so people can get to know you), you also want to ask open-ended questions that foster engaging conversation, in which the other party can actively participate. Be flexible with your conversation and really pay attention to the other parties involved, this will help you to develop better relationships with the people within your network.

Volunteer

Aside from social gatherings, the holiday season is also full of volunteer opportunities. Organizations and various non-profits are always looking for people to lend a hand (i.e., Toys for Tots). I bet you may even find volunteer opportunities at your local MCI. Regardless of where you volunteer your time, the opportunity to network will certainly always present itself. Think about it, by volunteering your time, you're destined to meet new people, thus growing your personal/professional network, naturally. Plus, if you're volunteering, you're probably doing something that has significance to you personally – meaning you're likely to have something in common with the folks you meet (a great recipe for engaging conversation).

LinkedIn Networking

Don't forget about your LinkedIn network during the holidays! Here are some tips to maximize your holiday downtime and keep your LinkedIn network fresh.

  1. Pick three organizations in an industry you are considering pursuing. Look them up on LinkedIn.
    1. See if you are connected to anyone in the organization.
    2. Explore the wording of open position descriptions and qualifications.
    3. Research to see if they have a veterans program.
  2. Take the opportunity to reach out to five of your LinkedIn connections. Let them know how you have developed since you last communicated with them.
  3. Pick out five connections and say thank you for something you might have gleaned from them, but forgot to acknowledge.

By spending even a small part of each event reaching out and talking to someone new, you'll be building your network and making contacts to extend into next year.

Still searching for more in-depth assistance with your transition? Contact your installation's Transition Readiness staff. Join the Marine for Life Network by completing the form on its website. You can also follow the Marine for Life Network on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Everybody experiences stress.  Family, Finances, Work, Relationships, Loneliness.  DSTRESS is here for you. 1-877-476-7734. Free 24/7 assistance. Speak with a Marine veteran or professional counselor.Everybody experiences stress.  Family, Finances, Work, Relationships, Loneliness.  DSTRESS is here for you. 1-877-476-7734. Free 24/7 assistance. Speak with a Marine veteran or professional counselor. Holiday Survival Kit