The New Look of Holiday Networking

Holiday parties. They seem to help fill up any block of free time during the already busy holiday season. Whether you’re attending for fun, for networking purposes or a combination of both, you looked forward to meeting new people. But COVID-19 changed that. Just like everything else about the holidays this year, the traditional holiday gatherings will likely be a thing of the past.

However, it doesn’t mean you can’t still expand your networks over the holidays. You just need to be flexible, adaptable and a little more creative.

Before you cringe at the word “creative,” think of it like this: WHAT do you want to share in your networking, and HOW will you do it in today’s world?

Let’s break it down, first focusing on WHAT you want to share. What are your greatest strengths and passions? How would you describe yourself to someone in a way that they will remember you?

The truth is there are few people who are self-aware enough about their strengths, passions and interests that they can share them succinctly enough to engage with others. So, we’re helping you out. We’re giving you the Personal Branding Statement Template. (Take our online personal branding statement course.)

The Personal Branding Statement is a two-sentence statement you create that introduces you to someone in a very quick and powerful way. Here’s the template:

I am a (talent), (talent) and (talent) person who loves (passion), (passion) and (passion). As a (identity) and (identity), I (verb), (verb) and (verb) to/for (what matters to you).

Here’s how it could look in the real-world:

I am a creative, dynamic and result-oriented person who loves to inspire people to discover, develop and live what is great in them. As a process-minded educator, I build easy to use tools to help people succeed in work and life.

I am a detail-oriented, logical and curious person who loves to solve problems and challenges to improve results. As an avid team player and athlete, I work as I train – to win, to succeed and be the best.

I am an analytical, logical and clever person who loves to make the complicated simple. As an action-oriented science nerd, I translate big science into practical and usable information for all.

Congratulations. You’ve just discovered an effective way to share critical information about yourself in a succinct and unforgettable way. And a bonus: you increased your self-awareness to uncover that information.

Now that you have clarity about your greatest passions and strengths – and HOW they can be used in today’s world – it’s time to explore HOW to share that information when traditional networking events aren’t an option. Here are 3 ideas you can try:

  1. Host recurring [holiday] Zoom chats. Schedule weekly Zoom calls with 3 of your friends and have each of them bring one friend to each Zoom call. Base it on shared interests, hobbies, similar work roles, people looking for work, etc. Or, consider bringing someone from a different cohort (Boomer, GenX, Millennial, Gen Z). Introduce each other and why you had them come to the Zoom call. Share your branding statements to get conversations started. Share contact information and encourage more conversations outside of the initial call.
    For an organization, organize holiday Zoom chats with 3 to 6 employees who don’t work together. Whether they’re at different levels, in different departments or different countries doing the same work on different teams, use this as an opportunity to network within the company. If appropriate, add the “bring a friend” component as a means to attract other talent to the company.
  2. Host a weekly holiday background Zoom call. Use the opportunity to invite different friends each week where you catch up, talk about the holiday and have a holiday background competition on each call (could this become the new ugly sweater contest?). Share your branding statements to get conversations started and talk about how their background aligns to who they are.
  3. Holiday masks. Host an event that is set up to encourage social distancing with 6 feet between chairs and in a room large enough for everyone to keep their space. Make a requirement that attendees wear a mask that is indicative of their work or a hobby. Spend time guessing information about each person based on their mask. An alternate version of the mask networking idea: host a holiday mask event where the mask represents what they feel or celebrate about the holiday. Whatever the angle, the mask serves as a discussion point to get conversations started about individual passions and areas of greatest interests.

Take Action
Think of holiday networking as the WHAT and the HOW. Get better acquainted with yourself to be able to complete and deliver a couple versions of your branding statement. It gives others a brief introduction to you and encourages conversation.

Then rethink HOW to connect with people over this holiday. Be creative. Be adaptable. But continue to be safe. In these moments, you will meet some cool people who can help you both personally and professionally as we all learn how to be successful and happy in our changing world.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Great Job Candidates Won’t Wait

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