Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How the Holiday Season Can Help Your Career

The holiday season is beginning to ramp up, and your thoughts may be consumed by Black Friday deals or how to make your nana's pecan pie.

Amidst all these celebrations, however, it's time to also do a little career celebration. That's right -- it's time to give yourself the gift of new connections, better communications and making nice with teammates.

It's no secret that work often can be stressful. But if you do a few things now for your career as you are wrapping gifts and plotting leftover casseroles, you will find that it is a gift that gives for a long time.

For example, while you're reaching out to family and friends this holiday season, why not also reach out to new connections in your company or your industry? How about a "happy-holidays-and-I'd like- to-connect" message via LinkedIn? Or, send a friendly Facebook message to someone you met at a conference, wishing them a joyful Thanksgiving and a "let's-set-up-a-time-to-talk" message?

The point is, you will find people in a much more receptive mood during this celebration season, so why not see it as an opportunity to network?

Here are some other ways to "gift" your career during the holiday season:

  • Demonstrate your emotional intelligence. More companies are focusing on emotional intelligence when making new hires or offering promotions. While your hard skills may be just fine (Ruby on Rails is a breeze for you), others may see you as, ahem, less than friendly. So, find a calendar of a boss's favorite baseball team and offer it to him so he can feel cheered in 2018 every time he looks at it. Or, reach out to a teammate who has been struggling to learn a new program and offer to pick her up a cup of tea or coffee the next time you're going on a snack run. Bring it back with a small "hang in there" note to let her know you're cheering her on.
  • Listen. The holiday season offers numerous opportunities for office potlucks, gift exchanges or parties. This is a great opportunity to listen to people in a more relaxed atmosphere. They'll often share things that bring them joy: family, friends or hobbies. This helps you get to know them better and develop stronger, more personal ties that can also boost your professional bond.
  • Share. Just as your colleagues or bosses are willing to chat with you more about their lives, you should be willing to do the same. You don't have to overshare with the results of your latest colonoscopy, but you can talk about hobbies you enjoy, travels that have been exciting or what you like to binge watch on Netflix. Sharing a common love of "Stranger Things" can be the key, for example, that unlocks the door to a better relationship with a prickly colleague or a standoffish boss.
While the holiday season can be a bit crazy, take some time this week to think about ways you can gift yourself with career happiness in the coming year -- and enjoy doing it while eating some pumpkin pie!

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