The holiday season provides a perfect opportunity for job search networking. More people are hired via networking than any other job search technique, so take advantage of the plethora of networking opportunities the holiday season offers. People are more in the mood to help right now than any other time of year, so the odds are in your favor for making that one influential contact. Even if you’re out of work and out of holiday cheer, it’s important not to miss out on any opportunities to meet people who can help you find a job. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your next networking event:
Say Yes! to all those holiday parties and events
Well, maybe not to every party, but if you’re looking to fill your pipeline with new people, you’ll meet them at everything from the neighborhood open house to the office party, as well as those special holiday business networking events. Attending holiday events is also a good way to follow-up with the people you already know, such as your clients, business acquaintances, associates, referral partners, and friends and family.
Be prepared for each event you attend
Be ready to clearly and concisely tell people what your job search or business goal is and what sort of position would represent solid fit for you. Ensure it’s conversational and cordial but doesn’t sound scripted or rehearsed. And don’t forget your personal business cards! Be ready to schedule follow-up meetings in the moment.
For starters, build rapport and trust by talking about something other than business
In building relationships, which is what networking is all about, you want to get to know people on a personal level, as well as a professional level. Take advantage of the holidays to relax and socialize and get to know people a little better. Try to establish a sense of rapport. Mention something or someone you have in common. Ask simple questions to engage general conversation. Conversations should be focused on the person you’re speaking with, not you and your job search — that can come later, after trust has been built.
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If the conversation does turn to business–don’t “sell”–ask for Tips, Advice, and Recommendations (TAR)
Generally, people like to talk about themselves so start the conversation by asking simple questions about what they do or why they decided to attend the event. “Peel the onion.” Most people like to help people so asking for tips, advice, and recommendations (remember: TAR) about how you can better market yourself for a particular position or in a specific industry is recommended. DON’T SELL! Look for commonalities and similar goals to build rapport and remember to exchange business cards.
Always give more than you get
The best way to build your network and enlist people to help you is by first helping them. If you’re speaking with a salesperson or business owner ask “How can I recognize a good prospect for you?” Or “Is there someone I can introduce you to?” People feel inclined to help you when you offer to help them. Be sincere, take an interest in what they do, and then use your network, expertise, and connections to help them any way you can.
Follow up promptly
After an event, ensure you follow up with anyone you offered to connect with, help out, or send information to. Be prompt in your response. This may be a good opportunity to invite people to connect on LinkedIn, or invite them out for coffee or lunch. Remember that the person who does the inviting—pays.
-Use humor. People love to laugh and enjoy people who are friendly and positive!
-Bring a networking buddy if you’re very shy or hesitant about attending.
-Don’t appear desperate!
-The only way to improve your networking skills is to get out and do it!