By Meghan Caprez
Around this time of year, I’m busy taking final exams and writing research papers. However, I can also be found hunched over my desk writing out holiday cards to the professionals in my network.
I like – no, I LOVE – sending snail mail. My friends receive dozens of post cards from me each year, and I much prefer writing out a thank you note to sending one via email. So it makes sense that I would enjoy writing out holiday cards. But why do I send them to professionals, too?
It’s personal. It lets those in my network know that I’m thinking about them outside of a stiff, career-focused business atmosphere. It takes time to write out, address and mail a physical holiday card, so professionals know that our relationship matters to me.
It’s different. Not a lot of college students think to send holiday cards to their family and friends, let alone to professionals in their network. While I’ve only mailed holiday cards for the past three years, professionals have now come to expect it from me. Just call me the Christmas card girl!
It’s global. The great thing about the holiday season is that it is nearly universal. If you aren’t celebrating a religious holiday, you’re celebrating the winter solstice or the new year. Because I studied abroad, I have professional contacts in London and Dublin, too. The holiday season is a great excuse to send them some snail mail love.
But I get it; winter holiday cards aren’t for everyone, and keeping in touch with contacts in your professional network can be tough. Over the past few years, I’ve been lucky to meet tons of great networkers at PRSSA National events. Here are just a few of their suggestions for staying in contact with professionals:
If you’re a PR or communication major, chances are you need coffee (or hot chocolate) to survive. So why not make your daily Starbucks run a networking opportunity? Once or twice a year, reach out to the professionals in your network and invite them to catch up over coffee.
If you’re like me, your network is spread out throughout the country…and even the world. It’s not as easy to set up a coffee date when your mentor is in New York City and you live in Ohio. Instead of catching up over a warm beverage, catch up over a warm keyboard. Send professionals a note every season to see how things are going.
Send a treat
One of my friends from PRSSA National said she sends her internship supervisors an Edible Arrangement every year around the time she started working for them. Maybe your old officemates had a sweet tooth, so a dozen cookies might be the way to go. This is a great way to show your thanks for the opportunity and let your old employers know you’re thinking of them. It can get pricey, so adopt this method sparingly.
Find your own holiday card
When you talk to professionals, pay attention to the things they say they enjoy. One professional shared that she connected with a student over their mutual love of Halloween. Now, every year, the student sends her a Halloween treat. Look for unique opportunities like that to connect with professionals in your network, whether it’s emailing them silly cat videos or mailing them a $5 Dairy Queen gift card each National Ice Cream Day.
Meghan Caprez is a graduate student studing communications studies at Kent State. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.