The holiday season is upon us! Usually, our schedules would be full of parties, celebrations, shopping, and white elephant gift exchanges. This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it will look a little different. However, it’s still a great time to network and put yourself out there — virtually, that is.
Here are three reasons why the COVID holiday season will still be useful to you as you seek to make new connections. Whether you are a job seeker, or an HR manager looking to fill a specific role, be of good cheer — it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
1. People are in Better Spirits
This time of year brings all the wonderful holiday things that many people love: egg nog, pumpkin pie, snowflakes on kittens, silver bells. Nostalgia can soften hearts and make all things merry and bright. Many folks will be happier and thus more receptive to hearing your story and seeing how they can help.
Take advantage of the “good spirits” and be genuine. Don’t be afraid to share about your current situation and the opportunities you are looking for. Many people will respond with positive insight and willingness to help.
2. Everyone is Online
As work slows down for the holidays, people will be on their phones more. Whether they’re scrolling on social media, answering messages on LinkedIn, or ordering a Thanksgiving meal from Doordash, the phone will be in hand.
They will be scrolling to kill time at work before they sign off for the holidays. They will be scrolling at their family gatherings. They will be scrolling waiting in line at the grocery store to pick up toilet paper.
Now’s a good time to actually get a hold of people and reconnect. Plus, it’s a great time of year to hear from an old friend. Even if it’s just saying “hello,” or wishing them “happy holidays.” Be like Santa and make a list. Write down a few connections that you could reach out to on the phone or on social media. This could be old childhood friends, people from grad school, or colleagues you used to work in the cubicle next to you at a former job. They will be glad you reached out, and the conversation could potentially lead to a new opportunity. That one message sent at the right time could lead to a fortunate connection that will change the course of your career.
In addition to being on their phones, many people are now more comfortable with video calls. Whether it’s FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Hangout — we are all more familiar with the technology. This is true for nearly all generations. You don’t need to go over the river and through the woods to see Grandma — grandma figured out how to use Zoom. Don’t be shy in setting up Zoom calls to catch up with people. Zoom has announced they will drop their 40-minute time limit so more people can connect over the holidays. Take advantage of this and start setting up meetings!
3. Icebreakers Galore
During the holidays, there are so many subjects top of mind for people that make starting a conversation more natural. The latest must-have gadget on Amazon, holiday punch recipes, ugly sweaters, fruit cake… the list goes on. These subjects transcend religion, background, and profession.
Plus, there’s the plot twist of COVID. Nearly everyone you know is doing something unique this year to celebrate. It’s a shared experience we all can relate to.
Here are a few icebreakers you can try out:
“How will you be celebrating this year?”
“Did you find all your gifts online?”
“Have you tried a Zoom family hangout?”
“How are you taking a break from work over the holidays?”
These kinds of questions not only break the ice but build a shared connection. Once you have common ground with someone, they are more likely to want to stay connected.
5. Everyone is Thinking About 2021
2020 has been a challenging year. Now, we finally have something to all look forward to — the end of it all. The end of the year brings renewed hope for 2021.
Not every company is going through layoffs. Job opportunities are out there. Hiring managers may have positions to fill before December 31. Or, they are lining up candidates to fill job positions on the 1st of the year. There’s a sense of urgency there, which means there’s an opportunity for job seekers.
Now it’s time to “be merry” and tackle your holiday festivities with high expectations this year. Happy networking and, of course, happy holidays.