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Dec 16, 2016 09:10 AM EST

Christmas Parties Can Give Opportunities To Expand Your Network

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Building networks early in your career is a good move, enabling you to add potential clients, employers, or job leads. For that purpose, going to parties can be a good thing. And since Christmas is coming, parties are sure to come - why not take advantage of the gatherings to build your network?

"[T]he winter holiday season, with its open houses, cookie exchanges, ugly sweater contests and company parties, is perhaps the most wonderful networking time of the year," Karen Burns, author of "The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use" wrote in a column on the Seattle Times.

"You should partake of and enjoy any and all festivities that come your way this month," Burns adds. "'Tis the season."

Christmas parties, events, and gatherings can be a great way to expand your network. Here are some of Burns' tips for you to do just that.

Meet at least one new person

Instead of going to the events simply because your boss said so, consider each event as an opportunity to make new contacts, says Burns. If you can, check the guest list and set a specific target. Who knows, maybe the person you make friends with turn out to be one of your clients or job leads someday.

If you're shy, bring someone with you

Shy people will do well to bring an outgoing wingman (or woman), Burns says. Bring someone who knows how to start and maintain a lively conversation to help you arrange a talk where you can make a good impression with the people around you.

Remember that you're in a party - not in a job fair

Keep in mind that although you're looking for new contacts, you're still in a party. Do enjoy the event and keep business to a minimum - but don't forget to follow up afterwards. Business cards will help, and so will having fun. Enjoy the people, be interested in them, and establish good relationships with the host, the guests, and everyone. Anybody can become your client someday.

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