My ten year anniversary is coming up in February. I am sure you are wondering what that has to do with holiday parties, and so let me clarify. Unlike years past, the Thanksgiving feast brought out a slew of family members this year for some reason. Someone mentioned in conversation my upcoming anniversary only to be followed by the obvious question, “So, are you getting her a new ring?” My eyes bulged out of my head, and so did my wife’s eyes just not for the same reasons. The next words in the conversation were from her saying, “I hope so. I want an antique one.”
The dollar signs began flashing across my mind. I don’t think anyone saw the sweat building on my brow. And then, my brother-in-law turned to me and said, “Hey, my mom sells antique jewelry. I can probably get you something at cost!” Suddenly, I eased back into reality armed with the hope of something inexpensive.
I say all of this to suggest that the holiday season is an excellent time to network. One never knows when a new wedding ring, a good deal on a car or a great job opportunity can find its way into a conversation over eggnog or wassail. Entrepreneur magazine offers up seven tips for networking at holiday parties in “Networking Strategies for the Holidays”:
• Be prepared
• Ask good questions
• Have a “teaser” topic ready
• Don’t have more than a couple of drinks
• Be confident of your value
• Use the introduction to segue to a future meeting
• Honor the event
You can read the entire piece at the link above. To these, I would add the following three tips:
Keep an open mind: You never know who may provide a good lead for you. So what if you are in IT and your sister-in-law is a lawyer. Her firm or a client may be in need of a techie. Keep an open mind and explore.
Stay positive: Chances are if you are unemployed, you are trying to stay positive, but the loss of a job for whatever the reason can easily cause some difficult emotions; keeping these at bay when networking is essential. Remember you are speaking with potential personal headhunters. Complaining about your current situation or your previous work environment may send the wrong message, and thus lead to a lost opportunity.
Be clear on your desires: Job hunting is difficult enough, but if you can’t articulate what you are looking for in a job, it’s even more difficult. If the conversation comes up at a party, you should be able to say exactly what you are looking for, such as “a network administrator position in a small, local company looking to expand their technological capacity.” Any type of hem hawing may suggest that you don’t have a clear vision of your career potential.
The holiday season may just bring the perfect gift this year if you are a job seeker. Utilize your networking skills and be ready for whatever might fall in front of you. Hey, if I can cash in on an anniversary gift, I’m sure you can land a job!
Michael Webster serves as an Industry Liaison to the Education Sector for the Gulf Coast Workforce Board. With over a decade of experience in teaching and staff development, Michael is passionate about ensuring all students achieve an enriching and successful life beyond high school. In his current capacity, he services school districts in developing a strong workforce and in delivering career resources to students and their families.