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holiday-partyIf you aren’t a natural connector, you’re probably dreading the coming deluge of holiday events and parties. Alaina G. Levine, author of Networking for Nerds, http://www.alainalevine.com challenges readers to make this the year you step out of your comfort zone by filling holiday events with more than just stale cookies and conversation.

’Tis the season to be wise and strategic. If the thought of networking makes you want to spend the holidays with the Grinch in his cave, make it your goal to reach out to just 10 to 15 people with whom you would like to build a partnership in some way. Introduce yourself, wish them a happy holiday season, and ask for an informal discussion to be arranged after the New Year. Let them know why you want to meet with them. That’s all you have to do!

’Tis the season to partake of eggnog — to a point. Yes, there’s a reason why alcohol has a reputation as a “social lubricant.” It can help take the edge off your nerves. Just watch your intake — limit yourself to one small drink. Remember your purpose. You are there to network, not to get drunk.

’Tis the season to get to the point. At a party, especially if it’s a professional event, you don’t need an office-holiday-party-email-coworkers-christmas-season-ecards-someecardsopening line. Just walk up to someone and introduce yourself. The more you do this, the easier it gets.

Tis the season to be open. Be open to networking with people who are not in your industry or who seemingly don’t have anything in common with you. You never know what you are going to learn until you engage someone in conversation.

’Tis the season to be bold and courageous. Hidden, game-changing career opportunities are everywhere, but they won’t magically reveal themselves — the only way to access these clandestine gems is via networking. Most people don’t have the guts to pursue opportunities, which gives you a distinct advantage if you do.

The bottom line is, networking during the holidays gives you the perfect opportunity to craft new mutually beneficial partnerships and add more fuel to those you have already established. So even if it’s not your cup of eggnog, leave your comfortable corner behind and circulate through the decked halls. You’ll be glad you did come 2015!