Holiday Success Strategies: Make the Most of Your Break
Edited from Mary Crane (www.marycrane.com), who conducts our 1L Etiquette Dinners.
The upcoming Thanksgiving and winter breaks provide tons of opportunities for you to reconnect with contacts you’ve made throughout the previous year. Before final exams begin, spend some time thinking strategically about how you can use the next several weeks to build and expand your networks.
Students: Make the Most of Your Break
- If you have business cards, carry them with you everywhere. The person seated next to you on your post-final-exams trip home just may be the employer of your dreams.
- This Black Friday, set aside an hour to send holiday wishes to any professionals you encountered during the previous 12 months (especially helpful for 2Ls and 3Ls). For more casual acquaintances, feel free to send your wishes via email. In the case of a prospective employer, past employer, or alumni of the school, consider sending a holiday card with a brief personal note. This personal communication will help you become memorable, something that never hurts when you need to land your first real job.
- Many offices experience their quietest time of year between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Key decision makers who stay in town over the holidays may have more time than normal to sit down and talk with you. Take a risk this holiday season. Make a list of the school’s alumni with whom you would most like to meet and email a meeting request. Don’t give up until you’ve succeeded in scheduling at least one meeting. For 1Ls, be on the lookout for winter break reception invitations via email or check “Events” on Symplicity.
- If you plan to return to a city where you worked (or would like to work) as a summer associate or intern, use the upcoming break to connect/reconnect face to face with contacts you previously established. A quick coffee or lunch allows you to confirm/reconfirm your interest in a prospective employer.
- In addition to meeting with prospective employers, use the winter break to reconnect with peers and college classmates. They may become important members of your network. And don’t ignore their parents, some of whom may be able to give you direction and even new leads.
New Professionals: Celebrate with Purpose
If you recently entered the workforce, the upcoming holiday season affords you a mountain of opportunities to build critically important relationships. To make the most of the next five weeks, keep the following in mind:
- Attend every holiday party to which you are invited. These events serve as important opportunities to connect with coworkers and clients. As soon as an invitation arrives, RSVP indicating that you will attend. (From that point on, only an absolute emergency excuses your absence.) If several events are scheduled on a single night, make an appearance at as many as possible.
- Use holiday parties to build your professional network. As soon as you arrive at a party, request a beverage and hold it in your left hand. This will keep your hands at waist level, making you look comfortable and approachable. Obtain either a beverage or something to eat—never both. Keep one hand available to greet others.
- Focus on festive communications. Holiday parties are intended to be happy, social gatherings. They are not the time to press for a raise or a promotion or to complain about a coworker or an assignment. Be prepared to congratulate others on their 2017 achievements. If you don’t know what to say, ask others about their holiday plans.
- Send holiday greetings—paper or electronic—to every key professional contact you’ve made during the previous year. Adding a personal note—one or two sentences will suffice—helps you become memorable.
- Don’t forget to extend holiday wishes to your operational network, the people at work who help you accomplish day-to-day tasks, including administrative staff, the mailroom, and the tech help desk. At a minimum drop off a card, and in some cases, consider giving a small business-appropriate gift. A tin of cookies or a gift card for a local coffee shop can help you build a relationship with the people who help you succeed.