Career Advice

How Holiday Cards Can Help You Network

If you want to stand out like a blazing star atop a beautiful Christmas tree this season, send a holiday card.

Send the cards to everyone in your professional network, including people who you’ve met through job interviews and at professional organization meetings.

“It’s not a Christmas card. It’s not a Hanukkah card. It’s a holiday card,” said Ford R. Myers, an executive coach and author of “Get the Job You Want, Even When No One Is Hiring.” Choose a simple, non-denominational card with no pictures of Santa nor any holly or a menorah. A card from a charity or cause you are active with is “absolutely perfect,” he said. So is one that seems a little generic or plain vanilla.

Your goal is twofold: To differentiate yourself from the crowds and be memorable. And second, when you send a card, you shift the dynamic of the relationship. “Now they see you as a person, not an applicant….That’s important.” They remember your graciousness and realize you are cultivating a relationship, not just a business deal or a job.

“It makes you feel good” to receive a card, said Myers, who offers nine other holiday career success tips on his website. Among them: “’tis better to give than to receive” so be a connector and introduce people to others this season.

If you’re eager to send holiday cards to build connections, remember these pointers:

  • WRITE IT. Hand-write a short message inside the card and the address on the envelope. Don’t use labels and don’t get your signature pre-printed on the card. You may include a business card, or write your email address at the bottom or on the back so people who want to reach out to you can.
  • SAY IT. Make your message simple and gracious. Myers terms this “proper, polite and gracious.” Some possibilities he recommends: “I wish you and your family the best holiday ever.” (or) “Look forward to seeing you over the holidays and next year.” If you’re sending one to someone who helped you a lot this year, note how you appreciate their contributions and support.
  • SKIP IT. Don’t mention the job interview or your hope of landing a job at their organization. Don’t reference your search at all, Myers said. That turns the card into a “bait and switch.” Instead of holiday wishes and greetings, you’re inquiring about the opening. Don’t do it.
  • MAIL IT. Yes, a postage stamp is required. These are real paper cards that will arrive and surprise the recruiters, hiring managers, former bosses. Some will hang on office doors or decorate their windows. If you send it this week, Myers said, maybe it will provoke an invitation to a holiday party or get-together. Yet even if you procrastinate, still send cards – even if they mark New Year’s.

“People positively remember these cards,” he said, noting that when clients send him holiday cards he always feels warmer toward them. “It’s rare these days that people actually sit down and take time to send cards by hand.”