Expat Networking: Holidays are a Great Time to Nurture and Grow your Network
December and January are usually some of the slowest months of the year for companies hiring across the globe. In some countries, very little business is done at all in December. As a result it is often said that you can't make much progress in a job search during the holiday season.
Given that more jobs (and business opportunities) are secured through networking than any other method, I'd have to disagree.
The holidays provide numerous opportunities to nurture and grow your network. So whether you are an expat in the midst of a job search, or a career-saavy expatriate who understands that managing your career means taking regular action towards building and strengthening your network, here are a few networking suggestions for the holiday season:
- Nurture current relationships: Relationships need attention if they are to survive and thrive. Living or working abroad can make nurturing relationships with people (particularly family and old friends and acquaintences) difficult when you don't have an opportunity to see them in person because they live in another country. So take advantage of the season to reconnect. Send holiday cards (or environmentally friendly e-cards for those who want to avoid bottlenecks with postal services), being sure to include a brief update if you haven't communicated for some time. Extend an invitation to connect via an online network like Facebook so its easier to stay in touch and keep up with what's going on in each other's lives.
- Pick up the "virtual phone": Many expats depend on online networks and email to stay in touch with their network because they literally cannot physically network with people in various locations around the globe. Although international phone cards are fairly common, making calls internationally can also be expensive. Online networking is certainly a powerful way to connect with people, but taking action to move relationships offline is still important. So take advantage of free voice-over IP solutions like Skype to stay in touch with a "virtual phone" - or even have video calls if both parties have a webcam - for little to no cost.
- Take advantage of holiday parties and celebrations to meet new people: Look for opportunities to connect with people locally that you might not have previously. The festive mood created during holiday parties tends to make people more open to engaging with new people. Make a commitment to meet at least one new person at each event you attend.
- Take advantage of other opportunities to meet people: Volunteering is a great way to meet new people that does not revolve around lots of eating and drinking, which is often the case during the holidays (which isn't always appealing to everyone). There are usually increased opportunities around the holidays to volunteer at places like soup kitchens or homeless shelters. You can also offer to help local organizations with things like bakes sales to raise money for a good cause or arrange for gift collection for those less fortunate.
- Networking is about giving - so give: Think about ways that you can support and give generously to your network. Introduce people you feel might have common interests. Donate your time and energy to helping someone with a project or event. Make a 10 euro/USD donation to your favorite charity to each person you send a holiday card to and let them know why that organization is important to you. The more you give, the more it will come back you.
These are just some of the ways you can take action to build and grow your network over the holidays - can you think of others? Please share your suggestions by leaving a comment so others can benefit.
YOUR EXPAT CAREER SUCCESS TIP: Choose at least one thing you can do to nurture your current network and one thing you can do to grow your network over the holidays. Make the time to get in touch with those living in other countries you don't normally see or speak with often. Embrace the spirit of giving over the holidays - because its the true essence of what good networking is all about.