Hiring slows down during December but it's the best time of year for you take advantage of your opportunities to network. With more parties and social gatherings, you will have more occasions to mingle. As you casually chitchat, remember to ask where somebody works and learn a bit about their job. File the information away to help you create, advance or develop a networking relationship.
Last year, Kathleen was laid off and was reluctant to network. I encouraged this career counseling client to strike up conversations at holiday functions. At a party she met two interesting people and later scheduled a meeting with them. She was able to get a lead that had her working at a great job, for a new employer, in early February.
Bill felt that he would need to move on to get promoted. I encouraged him to network internally and he met a senior executive at a company event. This initial contact developed into a mini-mentoring relationship, which helped Bill obtain a dream promotion. Networking does work -- in fact, according to the Department of Labor, last year 61% of all jobs where found through networking.
Commonality is a Key
An outside interest or hobby can be a foundation for developing a professional connection. Golfing, skiing, scrapbooking, school fundraisers, photography, working-out, neighborhood parties -- any group activity can lead to new contacts.
Working parents can expand their network by socializing with the parents of their kids' friends. Numerous opportunities avail to meet other parents who can become part of your informal network. Be friendly, and at some point make it a priority to learn what the person does and where they work.
Reconnect with old friends, especially college pals. This network can help you find a new job, get a promotion, secure new clients or customers. Contact your alumni association to get current addresses.
Networking Dos and Don'tsDo ...
Take the initiative at a meeting or gathering of people and introduce yourself.
Learn a person's first name, shake hands and repeat the name in the conversation.
Make small talk, maintain eye contact and look for a common connection.
Be active in introducing others and explaining any common link they might have.
Have a sentence or two prepared that describes the professional you in a concise friendly way.
Invite someone you want to get to know to a party or event you are hosting or attending.
Offer to be a resource to others.
Don't be a pest. Once you cross the line it is hard to recover.
Don't exclude people. Everyone has connections in both low and high places.
Skip the one-upmanship. It does not make friends or influence people.
Don't monopolize the conversation.
Don't over-drink. It will not make you more charming and it can be a detriment to your image and networking results.
Networking is now a strategy for learning how to improve on the job.
Getting to know other people with whom you can share information, explore ideas, and problem-solve will be an asset to your long-term career success. So be happy, jolly and NETWORK this holiday season.
Source: "Soaring on Your Strengths" book by Robin Ryan
Copyright 2007 Robin Ryan. All rights reserved.