Top Networking Mistakes to Avoid Over the Holidays

coworkers in santa hats sitting around a work table and laughing

Holidays mean a lot of opportunities to socialize with people both within and outside of your field, and if you happen to be on the job market or considering making a career switch in 2019, it can also be a great opportunity to make organic connections with people who may end up helping you out in the future. But the festivities also mean plenty of chances to make a bad impression or have an awkward encounter with someone, so before you attend any office parties or networking events around the holidays, make sure you’re committed to avoiding these uncomfortable situations.

When you’re networking over the holidays…

Don’t drink too much

Tempting though it may be when the festivities are in full swing, over-imbibing during the holidays is perhaps the most common reason people get into trouble with their colleagues or professional networks. Remember, even if it’s a party, it’s still a professional event – save the antics for when your with your friends and family where you can truly let down your guard. You don’t want to put yourself in a condition where you’ll regret anything the next day.

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Don’t bad mouth your boss or colleagues

Networking over the holidays is fun because it’s often in a more relaxed, fun setting. But, that doesn’t mean that the professional boundaries and workplace decorum that you maintain the rest of the year go on holiday. No matter how relaxed or unguarded you’re feeling during these social interactions, don’t get so comfortable that you start to spill all the dirt you have on your colleagues or boss or, worse yet, bad mouth them to other people. It’s not a good look at any time of the year, in any circumstance.

Don’t engage in office gossip

Interoffice networking opportunities abound during the holidays, and when you’re caught in more intimate, casual settings with your co-workers, you might be tempted to dish on a problematic colleague or participate in office gossip. Workplace gossip creates a toxic, negative environment and breaks down the bonds of trust that are so important to things like collaboration, teamwork, and productivity levels. Be very careful to speak negatively or gossip over the holidays, because it could come back to haunt you the next day.

Don’t threaten to quit

If you’re headed into the holiday season with a less than ideal work situation, be sure not to “vent” to your colleagues or network when you’re socializing. Even a casual slip among work friends that you’re thinking about quitting or going on the job market in 2019 can put you in a bad situation if word gets back to your employer.

Don’t be too sarcastic
When taken too far, sarcasm can come across as acutely negative or even aggressive. Even if you have a great rapport with your network or colleagues, avoid taking this kind of humor too far or else you risk offending your peers and even coming off as a bit of a jerk.

Don’t get too personal

Events, cocktail parties, dinners, lunches, office get-togethers… the holidays are a seemingly endless buffet of social networking opportunities. By networking in more relaxed, festive settings, you could be tempted to get personal. Don’t forget that you’re still in a professional situation, so keep the personal revelations or comments off the table unless you know you’d be comfortable sharing that information at any time of the year, in any circumstance.     

Don’t slam your company

Just like you don’t want to bad mouth your co-workers while networking over the holidays, keep the negative sentiments about your company or organization to your inner circle. If you’re on the job market and networking for new opportunities, you can find more diplomatic, yet still honest, ways to describe your desire to make a change, without coming off as resentful or overly-negative.

Don’t “kiss up” too much

Since the vibe is typically more social and celebratory, networking over the holidays often puts you in more personal conversations or interactions with people that you otherwise don’t interact with, such as your boss or company leadership or other employers and industry influencers. Refrain from coming on too strong in these situations and try too hard to ingratiate yourself. The best connections you make when networking are organic, natural, and genuine, not forced or contrived.

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