It’s the holiday season. Time for sugar overload, gift exchanges, not enough work getting done, and NETWORKING!!!!! Holiday parties are excellent venues for getting your name and fabulous reputation out among decision influencers and those who decide who’s going to do what. Do you network? If not, then this could be a good starting point for you. This is especially true if you feel at all stuck either in your career or specific job. Remember, too, that you don’t necessarily have to leave a company altogether to get a fresh start. And one more thing: people may take vacations in December and companies may actually close down for more than Christmas and New Years, but depending on where you live and other factors hiring doesn’t necessarily take a holiday, so be vigilant as you make your way between the eggnog and all the decorations.
Here are my get-ready-for-the-holidays networking tips:
- Re-assess your shy-o-meter: A lot of people who think they’re shy aren’t that way at all, but for some reason—maybe Aunt Bell called her niece a wallflower when she was in seventh grade and the label stuck—they believe they’re meant to stay in the background. Ask someone who knows you well and whom you trust if you are that way. Shy has all kinds of gradations and, sure, you may be a little reticent in certain situations, but for the most part you might not be a wallflower at all.
- Look at your lists and check them not twice but three, four, and five times. You might be surprised at how comprehensive your list of contacts has become. Old classmates (go to your reunions and reconnect!), members of your church or synagogue, neighborhood associations are just a few groups that can be tapped. Also, networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can be helpful as well. One of the most important aspects of networking with these groups or any others is that you’re up front about your intentions. Don’t pretend you want to become best friends with someone when all you really want to do is explore any possibilities within that individual’s company. No one likes to be fooled.
- Become a master at asking questions and listening. Here’s rule number two about networking: it’s really not about you, at least on the surface. People want to talk about themselves, but it’s up to you to facilitate. When you’re introduced to people ask them about their lives, their work, the food at the party. If all you do is banter on about your life, then that’s what people will remember about you. It should be an easy give and take exchange. If you need to practice first, then by all means do so with a trusted friend.
Next time more about holiday networking.