Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Holiday Recipe for Strategic Networking

It is the time of year for two very important things - baking and holiday parties. Since I don't think you follow this blog to receive my recipe for Christmas tree-shaped almond butter cookies (which are fabulous, by the way), let's talk about your recipe for networking strategically at all these upcoming holiday parties.

  • The stock of your networking recipe is a gallon of good cheer at the prospect of attending. The thought of attending a party with people I don't know puts me in a cold sweat. However, if you go into the event with the thought that you are there to have a good time, bring holiday wishes, and make new connections you will be much more successful.

  • You next need to add a cup of preparation. Go into every holiday event with a clear definition of what you are looking for. Networking in any setting will never be successful if you do not have a goal in mind. When you meet someone, be sure to introduce yourself, tell them your specialty, and subtly tell them how they can help you. For example you might say: "My name is John Smith, I am a civil engineer. I specialize in residential design and quality control to ensure designs are cost-effective and safe. I unfortunately find myself unemployed this holiday season, but I am looking to land with a company that needs someone with my skills. I would appreciate it if you would keep me in mind if you hear of anything."

  • Add a teaspoon of helpfulness. The key to networking is that you must always be on the lookout for ways you can help other people. It is so gratifying to know that you connected someone with their potential employer or made an introduction that led to another person's success. You know what they say about putting good things out into the world - they will come back to you!

  • Last, add a dash of follow up. It does you no good to make these connections without following up on  them. Go home and connect with the people you meet on LinkedIn by sending them a personalized invitation about meeting them at the party. The next day write them a nice email reminding them of all the things you discussed at the party. Within the next month - holidays are a busy time - touch base with them and offer to buy them a cup of coffee and sit down to talk with them one-on-one.
Many people give up their job search during the holidays. However, it is the perfect time to take advantage of all the social opportunities and optimize everyone's sense of good cheer. Have an fruitful and prosperous holiday networking season!

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