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  • Network During the Holidays: Light Up Your Personal Brand

    We tend to get lazy over the holidays, which is one of the things that makes us enjoy this time of year so much. There’s hot cocoa, warm fires, and a little extra free time to relax. One of the last things on your mind is your personal brand.

    But the winter is not an excuse to let your guard down when it comes to your brand. You should see it as an opportunity. There a lot of networking opportunities you can use to your advantage this time of year. You can make the most out of the holiday season and enhance your personal brand, and here’s how:

    When 80 percent of today’s jobs are landed through networking, you know you need to step up your game, and holiday parties are the perfect place for you to do it. Between work, family, and friends, you are going to spend your evenings in the next month with a lot of different groups of people, all whom are valuable people to have in your network.

    Family Parties. When you’re sitting at your next family party and there’s a lull, start to ask people about their lives. People love to talk about themselves, so they’ll gladly volunteer information and when they talk about work, ask them to elaborate. Then, when they ask you about your life, tell them the great things you’re accomplishing and express interest in new experiences. Even if your family and friends can’t land you a job themselves, they might know somebody who can, and they’ll be happy to help.

    Work Celebrations. Then you’ve got work parties as well. These are great opportunities to meet people in your company who you don’t normally see on a daily basis. This could include managers and higher-ups who you’d like to work with one day. Introduce yourself if you don’t already know these people and let them know how proud you are of the work you’re doing. Making connections throughout your company is one of the best ways to get promoted.

    Host Your Own. If you don’t seem to have very many holiday parties on your calendar, take the initiative to plan your own! Plan a get-together to catch up with your friends or colleagues. Whether you host the party yourself or invite everyone out to join you for drinks, you can gain a lot. Bring the people to you and you’ll have lots of opportunities to strengthen your network.

    Get Together For A Cause. If you’re all partied out, or you want to do something more valuable with your time, another option is to gather a group to do some volunteering. Ask friends or coworkers to join you in a volunteer outing. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer during the holidays if you get your act together early. Try finding a local nursing home, hospital, or shelter to go caroling or help with arts and crafts. The possibilities are endless.

    If you still can’t find a way to get together with your network during the holidays, there are still some great ways to stay on their minds. You can send personalized holiday cards, write thoughtful emails, or send social media shout outs. Thank them for being in your life, wish everyone a happy holiday and a wonderful new year.

    Your personal brand is not something that just goes away when the holidays roll around. By networking during holiday parties and other events, you can remind everyone you care about their success and they’ll be likely to reciprocate. If you keep your career in the back of your mind this holiday season, you’ll be off to a much better start in the new year.

    Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president ​of Come Recommended, a career and workplace education and consulting firm specializing in young professionals. She is also the author of#ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), national entry-level careers columnist forExaminer.com and blogs about career advice at HeatherHuhman.com.

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