Networking at the Company Holiday Party: 5 Must-Meet Roles

The annual company holiday party is not just a festive gathering; it’s a rare and valuable opportunity for networking within your organization. This unique event brings together individuals from all levels and departments, from the executive suite to new hires, in a relaxed and social setting.

It’s a time when barriers come down, and everyone is more accessible and open to engaging in conversations. In this article, we will guide you on how to network at a company holiday party, focusing on five key roles that are especially important to connect with. We’ll explore why these connections are crucial for your professional development and provide practical tips, including conversation starters, to help you maximize this once-a-year opportunity.

Embrace the festive spirit and gear up to expand your professional network in ways only possible at this unique annual event.


1. The Company Leader (CEO, President, etc.)

Building a rapport with top leadership can provide visibility and recognition at the highest level. It’s an opportunity to understand the company’s strategic direction and how your role aligns with it.

Approach them with a comment about a recent company success or initiative. Keep it brief and professional, showing your engagement with the company’s goals.

Example questions to ask the CEO at the holiday party:

  • “What led you to your current role at this company?”
  • “How do you envision the company’s growth in the next year?”
  • “What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your leadership role?”
  • “What do you think sets our company apart from competitors?”
  • “How do you foster innovation and creativity within the company?”
  • “What are some challenges you think our industry will face soon?”
  • “In your opinion, what qualities make a successful leader in our field?”
  • “What’s one decision you made that significantly impacted our company?”

2. The Department Head Outside Your Own

Networking with heads of other departments can foster interdepartmental collaboration and offer insights into different areas of the business, broadening your understanding and visibility.

Discuss how your departments might work together or share a recent success story from your team.

Example questions to ask a Department Head at the company holiday party:

  • “What exciting projects is your department working on currently?”
  • “How does your department’s work impact the company’s overall goals?”
  • “What’s the biggest challenge your team has overcome this year?”
  • “What changes do you foresee in your department in the coming year?”
  • “How do you see our roles intersecting or collaborating in the future?”
  • “What’s a recent success story from your team that you’re proud of?”
  • “What skills do you value the most in your team members?”
  • “How has your department adapted to changes in the market or industry?”

3. The Industry Expert (Senior Colleague or Specialist)

These individuals often possess a wealth of knowledge and experience, and can provide guidance, mentorship, or share trends and developments within your industry.

Ask about their experiences or thoughts on recent industry trends, showing genuine interest in their expertise.

Example questions to ask a Senior Colleague at the company holiday party:

  • “What inspired you to specialize in [specific area/field]?”
  • “How do you keep your knowledge and skills up to date in our industry?”
  • “What’s the most unexpected trend you’ve seen emerge in our field?”
  • “What do you think will be the next big thing in our industry?”
  • “What challenges do you foresee for new hires in our field?”
  • “How has your role evolved with the changes in the industry?”
  • “What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?”
  • “Are there any industry events or conferences you recommend attending?”

4. The Connector (HR Personnel or Social Butterfly)

Connectors are invaluable for widening your network. They can introduce you to other important figures in the company and offer diverse perspectives.

Express your interest in meeting others and ask if they could introduce you to specific people or departments.

Example questions to ask HR staff at the company holiday party:

  • “Who do you think are the unsung heroes in our organization?”
  • “What’s your strategy for staying connected with so many colleagues?”
  • “What upcoming company initiatives are you most excited about?”
  • “How do you think networking impacts our company culture?”
  • “What advice do you have for someone looking to expand their internal network?”
  • “Are there any cross-departmental opportunities coming up?”
  • “How do you approach introducing colleagues from different departments?”
  • “What’s the most effective way you’ve seen to foster collaboration in the company?”

5. The Peer from Another Team

Peers can become allies, provide support, and share knowledge about the company culture and processes. They can also offer a different viewpoint on shared company challenges.

Discuss common challenges or share insights into how your teams operate, fostering a sense of camaraderie.

Example questions to ask a peer on another team at the company holiday party:

  • “What’s been the highlight of your year with the team?”
  • “How does your team approach innovation and problem-solving?”
  • “What do you think are the key strengths of your team?”
  • “Have you encountered any unique challenges in your recent projects?”
  • “How does your team handle work-life balance?”
  • “What’s something you wish more people knew about your department?”
  • “What’s been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on this year?”
  • “How do you see our respective teams collaborating in the future?”

The company holiday party is more than just a social event; it’s a strategic opportunity to broaden your professional network. Remember, the key to success in networking at a company holiday party is to be approachable, genuine, and respectful of others’ time. Make the most of this festive season by forming meaningful connections that could shape your career in the year ahead.

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Jason Cortel is currently the Director of Global Workforce Management for a leading technology company. He has been in customer service, marketing, and sales services for over 20 years. In addition, he has extensive experience in offshore and nearshore outsourcing. Jason is an avid Star Trek fan and is on a mission to change the universe by helping people develop professionally. He is driven to help managers and leaders lead their teams better. Jason is also a veteran in creating talent and office cultures.

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