As I've said before, networking is just a fancy word for meeting people and keeping in touch.
The holiday season may not be the best time for landing your dream job, but it's the perfect time for networking, whether you're looking to further your career or start a new one. Here are a few tips for how to start:
Set goals for yourself
Whenever you attend a holiday party. Rather than sticking with friends you already know, aim to meet ten new people. You don't have to tell them you're job hunting or try to sell them anything -- in fact, it's better not to -- just introduce yourself and learn a little bit about them and what they do.
Carry a pen
And business cards too, if you have them. You're likely to meet people you want to exchange email addresses with, either because they have a lead on a job opening or because you have a common interest. Give out your email address liberally.
Follow up by email
With your new acquaintances a day or two later. It helps to remind them where you met, as well as to mention something they will find interesting. For instance, if you talked with a sales manager last night and read a newspaper article about sales in his field this morning, send him a link to it.
Send out e-cards
To old friends and colleagues, just to say hello and happy holidays. Include a personal message whenever possible to show that you're thinking of them. You'll likely hear back from many of the people you contact, giving you the opportunity learn more about what kind of work they've been doing and any job openings they might know of.
Just keeping in touch over the holidays can lead to a shiny new career move in the new year. Happy networking!
Carissa Doshi is a business writer and the president of Gen Y Media Group. She gives career advice and blogs about her experiences on www.carissadoshi.com. You can also follow @CarissaDoshi on Twitter.