Holiday Networking: 7 Steps to Party Your Way to a New Job!
By Susan P. Joyce
Many people roll their eyes and groan at the thought of networking.
Until the holidays when we have many painless -- even fun -- networking events and opportunities!
One of the most enjoyable parts of the holidays is 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.
FOUR times as many jobs are filled via employee referrals (networking!) vs. job boards!
7 Steps to Effective Holiday Networking for a New Job
If you "party" the right way, you will leverage the holidays for your job search while you are enjoying them. So, be prepared to find that employee who can refer you to your next job --
Consider organizing your own holiday networking event. Invite people you haven't seen or talked with in a while to a holiday get together -- again to reconnect and catch up. [More: Holiday Networking Like a Pro!]
Accept invitations from friends and colleagues with whom you have previous employers or schools in common!
Even if you don't know the person well or haven't seen them in a while, accept their invitation to meet if offered. Or, reach out to them. Reconnect and catch up with what's happening in their life and career.
Know your target job title(s) and target employers so you can give a clear answer to the "What are you looking for?" question.
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.
[More: The Quickest Way to Land Your New Job]
Bring "networking cards."
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.
Be sure to include your LinkedIn profile's URL-- recruiters want to see your profile (to confirm your qualifications), so be sure they find the right profile -- yours, not someone else with the same name but no qualifications for the job!
Renew some "old" friendships and working/school relationships, people who already know you and your work.
Contact former colleagues, co-workers, bosses, and subordinates. And/or contact former classmates and professors.
Suggest a "holiday alumni reunion" (read Job-Hunt's Secret Networking Powerhouse: Employer "Alumni" and LinkedIn Networking Power Tool: Education), 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). Meet new corporate alumni, too!
To maximize meeting new people, attend at least one party you have never attended before.
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.
Be a good networker.
Connect, and catch up with others. Ask questions. Be interested in what is happening with others, particularly if you haven't seen them in a while.
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 -- maybe a contact name for them, recommendation on a great gift for their kids, great website for job search (Job-Hunt.org!), or something else useful to them.
Enjoy yourself, within reason.
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.
The Bottom Line
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 great job leads and, hopefully, a new job in the new year!
More Articles About Holiday Job Search:
More Holiday Job Search Tips
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About the author...
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 recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, 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.