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Whether you’re currently working or working on finding a new job, you will probably receive invitations to some holiday parties in the next few weeks. These events offer great opportunities to mix and mingle your way into a new career. Here are some holiday party networking tips: 1. Accept all the invitations you receive because networking has become one of the best job search strategies available. The more contacts you can make, the better. The people you meet at holiday parties may not have an opening that fits your skill set, but they may know someone who does. It’s all about getting out there and increasing your sphere of influence. 2. Don’t give in to your wallflower tendencies. Make every effort to connect with at least three new people at each holiday party. As you approach people, ask them how they know the party hosts and then find out about what they do professionally. It’s totally acceptable to mention that you’re currently looking for a new opportunity. This is a perfect time to share your elevator pitch with your newfound friends. If you know a lot of people at the party or you’re attending with friends, try to break off from your group for a little while and meet some new people. 3. Take some networking cards with you. Not everyone carries business cards with them to holiday functions, but it would be advantageous to share your contact information with the people you meet. You can have cards printed very inexpensively with your e-mail address, phone number, and a quick line or two about the skills you offer to prospective employers. Ask the other people for their cards, but don’t be surprised if they don’t have any with them. You can always ask if it’s OK to connect with them on LinkedIn after the party. 4. Monitor your alcohol intake. We all want to have a festive time, but no one wants to be remembered as the party guest who was wasted. A good rule of thumb is to alternate non-alcoholic drinks with alcoholic drinks if you choose to imbibe. Don’t consume more than one alcoholic beverage per hour and take advantage of food options at the party with your cocktail. 5. Networking doesn’t end when the party ends. The day after the party, send follow-up e-mails or make connections via social media to solidify the connections you made. You never know when a seemingly quick conversation at a party can turn into a full-time opportunity. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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