I’ve encouraged you to network before, yet I’m saying it again, because the holiday season is the perfect time to network.

Why network? Whatever your individual role or responsibility today, you undoubtedly are looking ahead to progress in your career. You might be angling for a promotion, positioning yourself for another location or industry, or seeking to transition into a new kind of career. All types of career progressions require people connecting to people, so it makes sense that you continually strengthen and add to your circle of professional influence–and you do that by networking.

During a holiday season, you have ample opportunity to connect with other people. There are company celebrations, team get-togethers, social and community events, and volunteer activities.

But you need to be ready to take full advantage of these occasions. That’s why I suggest you prepare yourself with what I call the three networking “knows:”

  1. Know who you are. Take time to define your personal brand. Understand your unique point of view, style, strengths, and what you want to be known for.
  2. Know what you want. Consider your career next step, set your direction, and seek others who can help you advance toward your goal.
  3. Know what you can give to others. You have valuable talents, skills, relationships, and experiences that can enhance others’ careers. Recognize what you have to offer, and be confident in sharing your knowledge and contacts.

The notion of giving to others brings me to the thought I want to leave you with: Networking has a lot to do with gratitude–gratitude for your own strengths, abilities and capacities, and gratitude for the people in your workplace and community. So it seems timely to consider this aspect of gratitude, as we in the U.S. prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving.

That said, I recognize it might feel very difficult to feel grateful right now, in light of this current environment of fear and untrustworthiness, twisted facts, flogging of rich- people-solutions that got us into trouble just a few years ago, execrable affiliations, and abhorrent sentiments. The principles and interests of the American people seem lost. They are not. It is through the simple art of networking–that is, connecting with people, engaging in honest conversations, and listening to and helping each other, that we can affirm our principles and interests, and promote true progress, both as individuals and together as a people.

Let’s network this holiday season.