The holiday season is typically rife with networking parties and festive celebrations, making it the perfect time of year to focus on nurturing your network relationships for a prosperous year ahead. Of course, this year will look noticeably different in the wake of COVID-19. Holiday gatherings will be few and far between, and those that do happen will be much smaller and socially-distanced.
Still, there is a lot of value in continuing your networking habits into the holiday season, even if it means doing so through virtual means. By now, we’ve all had our fair share of Zoom happy hours and socially-distanced coffee dates—but a bit of creativity and thoughtfulness can take virtual networking to new heights and impress your industry peers.
I'm a firm believer in personal connections. I love building up relationships with lunch appointments, walking meetings, and even pedicure dates pre-COVID. It's essential to create these moments outside of the typical networking atmosphere that feels like speed dating with business cards. When you prioritize one-on-one time, you start to learn about each other and form real bonds and friendships. Ultimately, this makes for a great relationship that generates qualified referrals and turns collaboration into a fun partnership.
With COVID-19 turning our lives upside down, people are juggling jobs, spouses, kids, and other family responsibilities. Many people face challenges, and something as simple as reaching out to check in and say hello can make someone's day. It is the thought that counts, especially when face-to-face encounters are off the table.
Here are a few ideas for showing your industry peers how much you care throughout the holidays.
A special delivery
Everyone loves a thoughtful gift, especially during the holiday season. It doesn't need to be expensive, just a meaningful way to spread love. For our big holiday blast, we usually send something small but special: a Starbucks gift card, a mini gingerbread loaf, a custom mug, or a pretty ornament with a cute card to tie in with the gift. It takes little effort and is low-cost, but the impact goes a long way!
A great way to up the personalization (and save on expenses) is to hand-deliver gifts if possible—from a safe distance, of course. If you plan on having something delivered by mail, schedule a video call to connect with them and share the experience together, like a cocktail kit or an ice cream sundae.
A virtual event
Although you may not be able to slip on that party attire and head out the door to a holiday party, you can still bring your networking online and host a virtual event with your peers. Consider planning a virtual paint + sip, cocktail-making class, or flower-arranging class for a small group of your creative partners—it’s interactive and fun, plus you’ll all learn something from it!
Alternatively, you can host a holiday game night through the Houseparty app and play Bingo, Pictionary, or Cards Against Humanity. Online networking experiences are less about the actual activity and more about the opportunity to let loose and have fun with one another, even from a distance.
Pandemic or not, you must always prioritize networking. The more people you have in your pocket, the more comprehensive your net is in the industry and the more help you'll have at your disposal. Yet, fostering your industry connections leads to more than just new opportunities and client referrals—you may find some real lifelong friendships with creative partners that stand the test of time.