Many rituals and habits changed after Covid-19, and the surge caused by the delta variant means this holiday season will still be subdued. In-person gatherings in hotspots will be limited, parties will be canceled, and annual catch-ups will still likely be virtual.
That said, there are ways to make sure you're making the most of this time—one of the best times of the year to network and make connections that lead to new job opportunities. Here are three tip for creatively (and safely) networking this holiday season.
1. Socially distant alumni meet-ups
The holidays are always a good time of year to catch up with college alumni and college friends at local watering holes. While that won't be possible in many areas of the country this year, don't forgo the opportunity to connect. You can still benefit from getting together with your college friends and new alumni connections safely in the pandemic.
What you can do is this: set up a small group (say, two to five people) and meet outdoors—in a socially distanced, masked fashion—to rekindle your connections and share your Covid-year experiences. Of course, you can also do this over Zoom. Whatever you decide, first and foremost, make sure to adhere to your local health regulations.
2. Gratitude get-togethers and handwritten notes
The absence of in-person company holiday parties means managers and employees will have a more difficult time celebrating their work years together and all that they've accomplished this year. This also means the opportunities to show gratitude and see each other in a more human way are limited. Does no parties mean no get-togethers? Not at all.
Instead, take things into your own hands and schedule gratitude get-togethers either safely in-person or via online meetings. In addition, make more of an effort to send handwritten notes (not emails) to show that you've enjoyed working with someone this year and appreciated all that they've done. Just because the medium has changed doesn't mean you still can't show your thanks and humanity.
3. Zoom holiday cocktails
Former coworkers and colleagues often meet during the holidays for drinks to reminisce and informally network. Sometimes, they bring new people to their get-togethers, allowing their respective networks to widen. However, for most people, in most areas, the “Let's go have a holiday drink …” won’t be happening this year. So what should you do instead?
First, think of the people you met up with last year during the holidays and reach out to them to have a virtual drink this year. Then, make a list of a handful of others you'd love to connect with and invite them to a virtual chat. If you're looking for a place to start, you might lead with something like “I know this is a crazy year and we're being robbed of holiday parties to chat … would you like to set up an informal chat?” and see where it leads.
A final note
The key to holiday networking in the pandemic is to be deliberate and make plans to reach out to people—both new and familiar. And then follow through on your reach-out plans. This year might be different, but it doesn't have to be unsocial if you put in the effort.
Lisa Rangel is the Founder and Managing director of Chameleon Resumes LLC (a Forbes Top 100 Career Website). She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Job Landing Consultant, and Recruiter. Lisa has been a moderator for LinkedIn's Premium Group since 2012. Chameleon Resumes reviews the goals of each client to ensure career documents serve their goals while meeting the needs of the prospective employers. She has been featured in Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, Crain’s New York Business, Fast Company, Forbes, Fortune, US News & World Report, and many other reputable media outlets. Rangel has authored 16 career resources, and has an active YouTube Channel with regular tips and advice.