By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS
As we prepare for the upcoming holiday season, it is time to examine a unique opportunity to network. The holiday season, a time for office parties, family gatherings and parties with friends presents a rich opportunity for networking. Never thought of it that way? Well, now is the time to prepare.

Close your eyes and think back to last year.  What was it like? Did you stumble over explaining to people that you are looking for a job? Did you find it difficult to explain what you are, what you do and what happens when you go to work?  There is plenty of time now to work on your Value Proposition and practice it so that when you mingle, you are able to have this essential part of your career search tools ready for action. Look in the mirror and say your Value Proposition over and over again until you are comfortable with it and have internalized it so that you can deliver it in a relaxed, confident manner.  By preparing in this fashion, you can present yourself in the best light possible.

For those who are embarrassed about being out of work, remember that unlike other times in history, layoffs and downsizing have hit more people than ever before.  It is not uncommon for people to hear about others being out of work. Therefore, focus on what you want- market intelligence, an informational meeting with someone in your industry, a lead, a contact, market intelligence. Do not focus on your lack of leads, interviews, etc. People want to see someone who is upbeat (as hard as it is) and targeted in what they are looking for. Know in advance what you are looking for- what companies, industries, positions that you are seeking information about. People can only help you when they know what you are looking for. If they ask you for your resume, do not stress because traditionally you send a tailored resume when applying for a position. Know in your mind that you will send them your Network Overview Sheet and will explain that this is a better way of expressing what you are looking for. The Network Overview Sheet is a concise, one page description of your Value Proposition, your skills, your proof of what happens when you go to work and your list of targets.  If you would like a sample, please feel free to contact me.

Lastly, take down people’s contact information and put it into your contact manager.  Follow up a little while later. It is amazing how many people re-kindle or strike up new relationships as a result of holiday gatherings.

Please let me know if this information helped by leaving me a comment.  As always, if I can help you in your career search, please do not hesitate to contact me at 203-323-9977 or by email at [email protected]

Every Success!