By Susan P. Joyce
One of the most enjoyable parts of the holidays are attending holiday parties, catching up with people you know and meeting new people.
Conveniently, catching up with people you know and meeting new people is a wonderful opportunity to network.
Coincidentally, networking is the number one way to find a new job.
If you "party" the right way, you will leverage the holidays for your job search while you are enjoying them.
Don't make this the topic that you discuss with everyone. But, when asked, have a clear answer that you share quickly and coherently.
Note: "Anything!" is an absolutely useless response, and, also, wrong unless you could be a rocket scientist AND a brain surgeon, etc. "Customer service supervisor with a bank or financial services company like ABC, XYZ, or EFG" is a much more useful type of response, if appropriate, and much more likely to generate useful responses from others.
Networking cards include your name, profession or target job, personal (not work!) email address, personal (not work!) cell phone number, LinkedIn profile URL, and Twitter account.
Contact former colleagues, co-workers, bosses, and subordinates. And/or contact former classmates.
Suggest a "holiday alumni reunion" (see Job-Hunt's Directory of Corporate Alumni Groups or search LinkedIn Groups), and meet at an old hangout for your reunion get-together. Catch up with what’s going on with everyone else, and share what you’re doing (or contemplating doing).
Check with local professional, charity, or business groups (whatever is most appropriate and appealing) to see if they have a holiday event you can attend.
Connect, and catch up with others. Do more listening than talking (2 ears, 1 mouth - for a reason).
Learn what other people are doing before sharing information about your job search. That strategy is both polite and useful. Maybe they work at one of your target employers?
Try to think of some way you can help the people you have met - maybe a contact name for them, recommendation on a great gift for their kids, or something else useful to them.
Consider organizing your own holiday networking event. [More: Holiday Networking Like a Pro!]
Company holiday parties are infamous for the idiot who gets drunk and tells off the boss. This kind of situation is what’s known as a "career-limiting move," and you don’t want to do that, regardless how deserving that boss or former boss may be. So, monitor your alcohol consumption, even on New Year's Eve.
Networking is a long-term activity where you help others as much as they help you, sharing information and leads, and the holidays provide a wonderful excuse and venue for expanding your network.
Since networking, like everything else, is very seldom a "quick fix" to anyone’s job search efforts, growing the size and strength of your network at holiday parties is a smart strategy.
Any holiday gathering usually provides us with a wonderful opportunity to get back in touch with old friends, and to meet new friends. The opportunity to attend parties translates into an increase in networking opportunities which can provide you with some good job leads!
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Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 2012, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.