Holiday Networking

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Dec 16, 2010 in , | No Comments

Most job hunters will begin to back off on their networking and search from November through January–this is a big mistake.

Some wrongly assume employers won’t be hiring during the holidays. It’s a myth, they do hire year round. Just think, if most job seekers slow down during the holiday months, that means your chances to land a job goes up.

Be Prepared

With Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner, don’t let the opportunities ahead pass you by.

Here are some tips to get you up and running during the holidays:

1) Keep a stack of your business or JIST Cards (see Michael Farr’s publications regarding JIST Cards) in your wallet or purse. Always have extras in the car.
2) Keep your resumes in an envelope in your car.
3) Take every opportunity to network, a) class parties, b) neighborhood parties c) holiday dinners with relatives and friends, d) church and other organization and club activities.
4) If you go out of town to visit, be sure to take your business or JIST Cards and resumes with you. Even on the ski slopes, you might run into someone who is in a position to hire you.

Have trouble networking?

Your ability to care about others should be at the top of the list. That may surprise some, but it’s true. If you care about what others are doing, what they are seeking, and how you can assist them, they will usually be interested in getting to know you–and assist you–in return. You never know what connections they may have which could land you a job.

Networking isn’t about walking into a place armed with your business cards and resume, waiting for the opportunity to latch onto the right person, making your one minute pitch. It has to be more genuine than that, it must be natural and enjoyable. Approaching networking opportunities, (whether it’s a large prearranged event for job seekers or a neighborhood party) make the most of it by getting to know people.

Pace Yourself

Be a good steward of your time and energy. For example, don’t waste time with the two-fisted drinker who becomes louder by the minute. One word of caution–don’t pick up a drink and drown your own sorrows–you will also drown your opportunities. Do focus on those you have something in common with, people who are friendly, and volunteer information about themselves. When you take the time to ask people about themselves, and not immediately start talking about yourself, you will open up the door of opportunity.

Remember, there is a fine line between being interested and being too forward. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying, they may give clues whether or not they are open to discuss more. A simple question that is not considered prying would be:

At a holiday party break the ice- “So, how do you know our host/hostess?” Maybe they work together and this person could be a good contact for future reference. Find out what they do. Take their business cards.

This can open the conversation and allow you to do more information gathering. For example, you ask the stranger at your neighbors holiday gathering the question and discover this is your neighbors supervisor–great! Now is your chance to find out if your skill-sets are needed. When the time is right, pull out your business or JIST Card. Then ask your neighbor to assist in getting your resume (and a cover letter reminding the supervisor where you met) on their desk Monday morning.

At a networking event, look for someone that you recognize from other events, or former co-workers. Reacquaint yourself with them, be genuinely interested in what’s happening in their lives. Does any information you have benefit them? If so, pass it on, be helpful. Ask them to introduce you to others they know at the event, this is how you expand your network. See if anyone has connections to your industry–their brother-in-law, sister, mom or dad–leave no stone unturned. I guarantee, you’ll find it interesting.

One thing that is very important when you network is remember to leave home with a smile and positive attitude. People pick up on chips on shoulders, anger, desperation, despair and hopelessness. If you are struggling with any of these, seek out help immediately, don’t ruin your chances to network effectively. Many local health care facilities offer counseling on a sliding scale, or free, as do many places of worship. Get the help you need. The holidays might make small issues seem larger.

Important Networking Reminders

Dress for success! At a networking event, be sure to be polished. When attending a holiday party, do dress appropriately using common sense. Leave the overly sexy dress at home, it will attract the wrong kind of attention if you’re trying to make a good impression.

Put on a smile and positive attitude! If you are down or angry, get help before going out in public. Your attitude shows and it won’t assist you in finding a job.

Be prepared! Business cards, JIST Cards and resumes need to be kept handy.

Have a genuine interest in others. Ask appropriate questions, keep it leaning towards your goal–key words–that clue you in a person is open to more discussion.

Listen carefully for opportunities. Who do they know, where do they work, how can they help you?

Help others, they will help you. Be generous with the information you have that could benefit another. Think of ways your skills, or connections, might assist another job seeker in landing a position.

Take advantage of holiday gatherings. Several are on the horizon for the next few months, utilize them to your advantage.

And last but not least–enjoy yourself–relax and take in the fun of the holiday season!

©2009 Original article featured on JobAngels BF

Judy Anne Cavey, who resides in the S.F. Bay Area of California, is a credentialed, certified, higher education instructor who taught Work Experience/Cooperative Education and ESL at three community colleges. She is also a freelance writer and grant writer currently authoring a textbook, has designed other learning programs, and worked with several nonprofits. Her Edublog, “Work Experience”, is a not-for-profit endeavor designed to assist job seekers of all ages.