Leverage The Final Weeks of This Year
The countdown is on until 2022 is in the rear-view mirror of your career. While many organizations slow down during the final days of December, consider how you can use this time to leverage your influence and set your career stage for the new year.
Make Connections Beyond Your Team
Capitalize on the holiday party or a slower tempo at the year-end to connect with influencers beyond your everyday team. Prioritize getting to know senior leaders and ask for 10 minutes to learn about their career trajectory and aspirations. It’s rare that you’ll find someone not interested in talking about themselves and this conversational research will give you an opportunity to deepen the relationship in the coming year, so you are on their radar screen.
Be prepared to go beyond your requested 10 minutes to discuss what you do for the company and how your strengths are a value-add if the influencer gives you more airtime. Keep it sincere, brief, and memorable, so you can follow-up. This technique also works outside of your organization if you are contemplating a move. Organizations hire who they know and trust and getting to know people in your desired company is the first step to setting yourself apart from the masses that apply online.
Hiring ramps up again in January and planting seeds for your next move is essential, so start early.
Holiday Party Strategy
Many organizations have not gathered for a holiday or end-of-year celebration since 2019, so we are all a bit rusty about what to expect and how to behave. Many companies have remote and hybrid workers now and those planning the festivities must be mindful to honor inclusivity with all work mediums.
This may be the first time you have seen your at-large company co-workers in-person (or remotely) and emotions and expectations can run high. Whether you are attending a function onsite, or a Zoom celebration, be cognizant about how you show up, how you engage others, and what you want people to say about you when you are not in the room. This is the time freshen up your personal brand and introduce yourself to new people and re-introduce yourself to those with whom you have not connected in a while.
Mitigate Large Gathering Anxiety with a Plan
For those who get overwhelmed with large holiday gatherings and dread the thought of endless small talk, focus on one, or two people that you want to get to know better. Be ready with open ended questions like, “Tell me about what you are working on that excites you these days.” to put the focus on the person you are engaging. Curiosity and active listening are great emotional intelligence partners and can help make the event overwhelm manageable and enjoyable.
By going deeper with a few people in conversation, you are building trust and developing a relationship you can steward and nourish moving forward. If you aspire to join a different team, be specific and seek out that leader and get to know them at the event.
Greet the Top of The Food Chain
If you don’t have regular access to interact with the C-Suite leaders, the holiday party is an ideal opportunity to introduce yourself and share briefly what you do for the company with senior leadership. Don’t pitch them your ideas or get long-winded but capitalize on the opportunity to share your gratitude and bring up something you did this year that impacted the strategic plan or company goals in a positive way.
For example, “President, Jones – it’s great to meet you in-person. I’m Jane Smith and I work on the marketing team as a content creator. It’s exciting to see the new brand message resonate with our clients and to see the uptick in new accounts as a result. I’m excited for the new year.”
The key is to be professional, gracious, and memorable without being a nuisance.
Do’s and Taboos for the Office Holiday Party
I highly recommend this great article on teambuilding.com with a comprehensive list of Do’s and Don’ts for holiday office party protocol. The behavior that stood out the most to me on the list was Don’t: Multitask During the Festivities.
The worst message you can send to your colleagues is to spend time on your phone – talking, texting, or scrolling messages during the gathering. Put your smart phone away and give your colleagues your undivided attention. If you are distracted with your phone, or other work ties – you are not fully present, and this sends a clear message that you don’t care.
Sharing your undivided attention is a gift, so untether from your technology and enjoy spending time with people – virtually, or in-person and celebrate the great work you have accomplished together in 2022.
Take advantage of the last few weeks of the year to raise your level of influence in your organization to be seen and heard. Be ready to showcase your value-add in a brief and conversational way that shows the impact you make.