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Darine BenAmara on CTV News

#014 | How To Network at the Office Holiday Party

Dec 17, 2022

Last week, I was interviewed on national TV - CTV News - to talk about the impact of the pandemic on women's career advancement and how to leverage the return of the office holiday party to (re)build your network.

Over the past nearly three years many offices shifted how they celebrate the holidays and now with the return of in-person events many people need a refresher on how to network effectively. 

A recent study finds that our professional and personal networks shrunk by close to 16% during the pandemic. This makes finding a job more difficult, it can hinder career progress and make it harder to get promoted. Before the pandemic career advancement and networking opportunities were particularly challenging for women.

With work shifting to a hybrid model the biggest risk remains inequity in opportunity due to a lack of visibility and fewer networking opportunities. With office holiday parties now returning this means engaging with people again and many people feel anxious about it because they have spent the past few years working from home.


So, how can you leverage the office holiday party to build our network and make ourselves stand out? 


1. Do your homework before you go

Make a list of the people you would like to connect with and the reason why. Then, send an email letting them know that you will be attending the office holiday party and that you are looking forward to meeting new people in-person.

You can also look for common ground, such as both owning a pet or enjoying the same outdoor activity, to use as quick icebreakers when you meet.

By doing so, it will help release anxiety before, during and after a new interaction.



2. (Re)Learn to introduce yourself

Write and practice your pitch before you go. It may sound counterintuitive but it will come handy if your brain goes blank.

Go beyond your job title by getting clear about what you want to be remembered for. What is your gift? What is your story? How do you make an impact in people’s life? In the company?

Adding a personal touch to your interactions will help smooth the conversation and put you at ease.


3. Engage with purpose

Do not limit yourself with one question like “what do you do?”

There is a lot more to a person than their title. Instead, ask insightful questions such as, “what do you like most about working with this company?”

During the conversation do not forget to ask how best to follow up by saying, “what is the best way to get in touch later this week?” Your new contact will let you know their preferred method of communication which makes it easier to stay in touch.

Engaging with the purpose of building your network will help make the conversation more enjoyable and will help you stand out from the crowd.

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