Tips for Holiday networking.
Many people assume that the holiday season is not a good time for job hunting. Conversely, it is an ideal time to network, establish new relationships, increase contacts, and find out about potential job openings. Frequently budgets are finalized in December for the next year. “The Holiday season is the good time to expand your network. Today the majority of the jobs are found through networking and, they tend to have a higher success rate because candidates are vetted.” says Gary Daugenti, Principal of Gent & Associates executive search firm. (www.Gentinc.com)
Getting started. Here are a few ideas on how plan your holiday networking strategy.
Make a list. Make a list of activities where you can extend your network. What holiday events and parties and drop in opportunities are coming up? Are there events that you have skipped in the past that might make sense to attend this year like the Homeowner’s Association Christmas party, or a neighbor’s holiday drop in?
Make a time plan. If you are dropping into a few Thanksgiving dinners or parties plan to stay an hour to 1.5 hrs. Which should be enough time to be polite, get to know people, and work the room. Plan to meet everyone and learn about what they do.
Prepare a communication plan. A party or family get together can be an awkward situation for many people who don’t know anyone. Break the ice with easy to respond to questions such as “How are you planning to spend your holidays?” “Are you spending time with friends and family?” “Do you get a lot of time off from work for the holidays?” These questions can put people at ease and then open up a conversation about work.
If asked about work, develop a quick elevator pitch on what kind of job you are looking for and what firms you are targeting. An elevator pitch should be a 10 second pitch about yourself and what you want. Do not belabor the topic that you are out of work, instead a positive statement what you are looking for and what types of jobs are a good fit for you.
Take notes. People usually don’t bring business cards to holiday events. However you might meet people that you want to keep up with. Make a plan on how to document the information on your smart device, tiny pad, or other mechanism. One job hunter noted he recorded contacts he met on his smart when he got out to his car, another noted she kept a tiny pad in her purse and jotted down notes in the ladies room before she left.
Here are a few places over the next few weeks to think about expanding your job hunting network:
Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving dinner is a good time to catch up with friends and family and meet new dinner guests. Spend time learning about what other are doing and be sure to let the family know you are looking for a new job.
Airplanes, buses, trains. If you are traveling for the holidays you might be taking a bus, train or plane to your destination. You will likely be traveling with people who are excited about the holidays, visiting friends and families, and more chatty than usual. This can be an opportunity to meet someone who might be working in or knows someone who works for one of the firms you are targeting in your job search.
Black Friday. This is the busiest shopping day of the holiday season. You can use this day to expand your network. If you are standing in line waiting for wrapping, at a coffee shop waiting to be rung up or, at the cashier station a ten second exchange with a person in line could net you a contact or a piece of advice.
The Gym. After a big Thanksgiving dinner many people head to the gym. After all Christmas and New Year’s Eve are just around the corner. The Gym is the perfect place to strike up a conversation after a class, in the locker room, or while on the Elliptical machine.
School parties. If you have kids there might be a number of school parties that you will be invited to attend. This is an ideal time to reconnect with parents to find out what they are doing, their job changes, and job opportunities.
Holiday parties. There are a number of holiday parties throughout the season such as corporate parties, neighbor gatherings, and friend drop ins. Make a point of attending the parties, reconnecting and exchanging quick updates.
Places of worship. Many people will plan to go to church, temple and other places of worship over the holidays. In addition there may be social events during the holiday season. Another opportunity to connect with people and exchange contacts.
No place to go? If you don’t have any plans for the holiday season create them. You can throw your own party, looks for various community and social events or join a few Meetup groups.
Meetup (www.meetup.com) is a very popular online social networking site that helps people with common interests (hiking, wine tasting, technology, cooking etc.) in your local area to get together. If you have no place to go this holiday season make a list of meetups that you might have an interest in and try them out over the holiday season. This time of year there is a good chance your first meet up will be a holiday party with higher than usual attendance.
The holiday season is a time for celebration and cheer and the perfect time to expand your job network.