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Ashley, a hiring expert from Cardinal Health offers her advice on networking this holiday break.

How to Network on Your Holiday Break

By Ashley on November 10, 2015

The holidays are the perfect time to unwind, reconnect with hometown friends and spend time with family. However, if you’re on the job hunt, it’s also the perfect opportunity to seek out potential job leads, update your resume, and build your network.

Now that your brain has fully shut down from school mode, you can focus on securing that summer internship or full-time job upon graduation. Make the most of your free time over the holiday season and consider these tips.

Update your resume

First, and most importantly, you want to ensure your resume is up to date. When making plans to begin networking, be sure your resume is accurate and ready to pass along to a new potential contact. When asked to pass your resume along to someone, you want to appear organized and eager. It will show your commitment to your job search if your resume is readily available to share.

Do not bring your resume to holiday functions. Keep it saved electronically to send to someone after you get to know them and start building a relationship. You should keep pen and paper on hand or a mobile device to save contact information after you meet someone.

Network with purpose

Building your professional network is about quality, not quantity. Be strategic about who you choose to build relationships with and ensure they align with your area of interest. It may not be as beneficial to network with someone who works in a field that does not align with your area of study. If attending a holiday function, do your homework ahead of time to learn who will be in attendance and research their background whenever possible.

As you begin networking, take time to get to know someone on a personal level rather than diving right into discussing your job search. Ask them questions and show a genuine interest in their personal life and career. It is important to build a solid foundation for your relationship before asking for their help. Someone is more likely to want to assist you if they feel connected to you.

Set a goal for the number of people you want to meet at an event. Be sure to set an attainable goal to ensure you spend adequate time getting to know each person. The goal should be to build quality relationships, not meet as many people as possible in a set amount of time.

Follow-up and stay connected

After meeting someone, send a personalized thank you note within one week. Hand written notes give more of a personal touch but an e-mail is sufficient as well. Since it is the holiday season, you could also consider sending a holiday card. Include something you learned about the person during your conversation or a topic you discussed to show your genuine interest and engagement in the conversation. This is also a great opportunity to send your resume, if appropriate, based on your previous conversation.

Stay in touch with your contacts throughout the year. To maintain a relationship with someone, it is important to check in periodically and not reach out only when you need something from them. If you had a significant accomplishment during the year, this is a great opportunity to reconnect with someone and update them on your status and/or send an updated copy of your resume.

Reach out to previously established contacts

The downtime over the holidays is also a great time to reconnect with contacts you met previously in the year. The holidays tend to bring extra downtime for those who are employed full-time and they may be able to provide more immediate attention to you. Do not send a mass e-mail, as that can seem impersonal. Reach out to contacts individually and show a genuine interest in touching base. Wish them a happy holiday season and let them know what you have accomplished since you last spoke and your plans for the coming year. If you have an updated resume or new accomplishments, this is a good chance to share that news as well.

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