By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS
Parties galore, lots of good cheer, network during the holidays for a bright New Year!
Yes, it is that time of year where parties abound and wishes of good cheer are everywhere. What does this mean for you if you are a jobseeker? Does it mean hide because things may not be going the way you would like them to go in your life? Of course not! The holidays and all they entail are a perfect time to help you advance your career transition. Some people are astonished when I tell them this.
Think about it. There are parties and gatherings, both personal and business. People take it a little slower at times as they approach Christmas and are more amenable to the casual “stop by” for coffee and chit-chat. As a jobseeker, this is your cue to get into gear. What should you do to maximize this window of time? Below are 7 tips to help you on your way.
1. Remember that networking is about them! This is the Golden Rule of networking. While you will share things about yourself and what is happening, your focus is on the person and how you can make a difference for them. Perhaps it is a suggestion of an interesting gift to get their child or a cool recipe to share for their holiday party, do not lose track of the purpose here which is to build and enhance your relationships.
2. Go outside of your comfort zone and meet new people. At office holiday parties, it is very common for departments to hang out together. It is comfortable, everyone knows everyone. Be different. Break away from the crowd and mix and mingle with people from other departments. You never know when something may come up and a relationship or making an acquaintance with someone from a different part of the office may help you with a problem. For example, you are having a team meeting and were responsible for the food. You were so busy that you forgot to place the order. Now you have to scramble and figure it out. Well, you remember that you met the head cook from the cafeteria at the holiday party and had some interesting conversations because like you, she is an avid NASCAR fan. When you sheepishly ask her to help you out, she gives you a big grin and says, “No, problem!” The meeting goes on without a hitch and the food is plentiful with lots of extras. Your new found friend was only too happy to help.
3. Do not be afraid to talk about your situation. If you are one of the people who will be laid off effective 12/31, this is your chance to let people know that you are in search. There is no shame to it. This way if someone hears of something, they know to share it with you. This also applies to your personal parties and gatherings. Many times people feel like they have to put up a bravado so that no one knows. It is exactly the opposite. By following Tip #2, speak with people at your family gatherings and be honest and let them know what is happening. You have not seen each other in many instances for almost a year and who knows what has transpired in their lives. They may have started at a new company or created their own business. You never know unless you speak with them. Maybe they entered your industry and have contacts at companies that you are interested in. Maybe they joined an organization that you might be interested in. Put yourself out there, enjoy and see what develops.
4. Don’t just wait for the parties. Christmas is the time of year when people send out their cards or emails with an update on what has happened over the year, the quarter or whatever time period works for you. Reach out to people. Send cards, emails or whatever you like but make the connection. Or, set times for getting coffee or tacos. Whatever your pleasure, just make sure that you do it. Make it fun, so that you enjoy what you are doing.
5. Watch your drinking! I cannot stress this one enough. You want to be with it, able to speak intelligently and to come across as the consummate professional. If you get buzzed, you will not be putting your best foot forward. This is a bad move. Don’t be lured by the siren of an open bar. It is not worth it to ruin your reputation and chances for making your next transition.
6. Be conscious of what is going out on Social Media. Many people relax their guard and lose track of how they are being tagged in photos or that their tweets may not reflect their best self. “Digital Dirt,” as coined by Robyn Greenspan, lasts a lifetime so stay aware of what is happening out there. You with a lampshade on your head is not exactly what you want your boss, recruiters, hiring managers or referral sources to see.
7. Follow up with people. Networking is about relationships. You cannot have a relationship without the “relating part.” So throughout the year invest time every week to nurture your relationships and watch them grow.
So here you have the alchemy of a fruitful holiday networking experience. As always, please leave me a comment and let me know if this helped you. If you are struggling in search, please send me an email at [email protected] or call me at 203-323-9977.
Every Success, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays!