The holidays are a great time to reconnect with old friends and visit loved ones, and if you’re job hunting or looking to advance your career, the many parties during the season also provide an ideal stage for networking.

Holiday parties offer a great opportunity to get in front of people in a more relaxed setting, one where the mood is festive and key people are feeling social and approachable.

To help your career this holiday season, follow these simple guidelines.

  1. Meet the Movers and the Shakers

At your company’s holiday party, go out of your way to meet top management and introduce yourself. If you’re planning to attend holiday parties for various businesses and associations, be sure to find out in advance who the other guests will be. Choose three or four decision makers, the people who make things happen, and set a goal to connect with them during the evening.

  1. Always do Your Homework.

Before an event, do some research. Using Google, LinkedIn and company websites, read the bios and profiles of the people you would like to connect with. Take note of their backgrounds, interests, goals and accomplishments in order to find a common bond.

  1. Find A Way To Help

Make the conversation meaningful by offering something to the person you want to develop a relationship with. Can you introduce the person to someone who would be beneficial to them? Is there an upcoming benefit you can help coordinate or volunteer to help with? It is always easier to ask for help for yourself from people who already appreciate you and your contributions.

  1. Be Prepared

Prepare a Professional Pitch. Though holiday parties are not the time to come on too strong, if someone asks about your career goals, make sure you are ready with a well-rehearsed response.

  1. Dress for Success

Even if the party is casual, stick to business attire! When in doubt, err on the side of being overly conservative. Remember, this is a work-related event, and you’ll always be at your best when you’re well dressed, well groomed, and well spoken.

  1. Don’t Let One Festive December Night Damage Your Career

Don’t be the tightly wound young man or woman who stays late and goes above and beyond what they have to do to advance their career, only to toss back one too many drinks, try one too many dance moves then say something regrettable.

Follow these tips and you can turn the end of the year into a golden opportunity to advance your career.

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