Posted by: kenwbudd | December 3, 2009

Unemployed in the Festive Season? Great! Get out and Party!

It seems like only last month that we were in the middle of the Summer Vacation slump, when all our precious customers are sunning themselves on the beach instead of trawling the shopping malls, but take heart, this is a time of great opportunities, especially for job seekers..

The festive season is a great time to catch up and expand on your network, if you remain focussed, use your head and your time accordingly. The holiday season has always been an excellent time of year for job hunters and networkers.

You Send Mail
Spreading holiday cheer and New Year’s greetings over the phone, via e-mail or with a card is a great and valid reason to reconnect with people you don’t regularly see or with whom you correspond infrequently.

Parties Galore!
There are as many different types of parties and seasonal festivities; office parties, cocktail parties at your neighbours’ houses or scholl concerts for your kids. These present ample opportunities to meet new people and to network in relaxed, convivial settings.

Live Chatter
It’s so much easier to make small talk about things like family, holiday plans, shopping and gifts at this time of year, and those universal topics help break awkward silences and warm up conversations that you can eventually direct toward your networking needs.

Making Connections
The Festive season is the ideal time for job hunters, especially for those who find setting up networking meetings difficult, to make a connection with someone they want to get to know by offering them a ride to a party, providing directions or giving them an admission ticket to an event.

Embrace the Moment
You have been trying to get a hold of these people all year. So, now that they are out there, don’t dread the opportunity that these social events present; embrace them.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of the festive season’s networking opportunities:

1.Be selective
If you are furtunate enough to have multiple invitations for the same date or just don’t want to spread yourself too thin, decide which events are worth your time based on the networking potential that each provides and/or the amount of fun you think you’ll have, but don’t get fun and work mixed up.

2.Do your Research
Before selecting the event you’re planning to attend, find out who is expected to be there. Politely ask the person organising the event if they might tell you whom they invited. Then identify the individuals you want to meet. Learn about these people and the companies they work for so you can have an intelligent discussion with them and thus make a positive impression, but don’t be a boring geek!

3.Planning ahead.
Have some idea what you might say to break the ice and keep conversations flowing. People are going to ask you who you are and what you do for work, so know how to answer that question:

Come up with a succinct explanation, something funny or a simple anecdote that illustrates what you do and distinguishes you from the rest of the pack. Also think about what you might offer the people you meet in terms of advice, an introduction or a referral. Planning ahead will help you make the most of the event and increase your confidence going into it, but don’t actually write a script and if you do do not let anyone see you refering to it.

4.Know your goals
When you finally get in front of your target contacts, what do you want to get out of the interactions? Do you want their business card, or a referral or permission to contact them afterward to discuss your mutual interests? Taking small pieces of their clothing or hair is not recommended, as this will be perceived as ‘spooky’.

5.Make a good first impression
In the age of the Internet, a social event is a rare and invaluable opportunity to speak with someone face to face. So give the casual attire a break and look smart for the occasion. Also keep breath mints and your business cards handy. Be sure to have a good close shave beforehand, especially if you are a man.

6.Have a friend introduce you
If you’re rather shy with strangers and uncomfortable introducing yourself to someone new, find someone who knows the people you want to meet and ask that person to introduce you. Show your gratitude to your introducer by finding a way to help him or her. Never forget a favour, but don’t pay over any cash. It’s not cool.

7.Work the room in twos
You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to meet new people when you do so with another person by your side. Find someone with whom you’re socially compatible, who brings out the best in you and vice versa, and introduce yourselves to someone new, but don’t dress identical cause that’ just spooky again and avoid the temptation to play ‘Good Guest, Bad Guest’.

8.Stay focused
A Festive season networking occasion is not about the food and drink in the same way that a working lunch is not about the food. Remember, it’s all about expanding your circle of relevant contacts and learning and gleaning as much as you can from your conversations.

It’s a good idea to take very small notes, the back of business cards will do. That way you’ll be able to recall your conversation when you follow up with them. Try not to take notes openly cause then you’ll risk looking like the paparazzi press.

Quality is always more important than quantity. It’s better to spend ‘quality’ time with a few key people, having a meaningful conversation than to have a dozen superficial chit-chats.

Don’t be too quick to break off a good discussion with one person to start another with someone new. You’ll end up flitting around the room picking up new contacts and then quickly leaving them hanging, like some demented bulemic humming bird.

On the other side, play fair. Don’t waste other people’s time or prevent others from doing a bit of networking too. Be respectful and courteous. Your goal is to be remembered for the right reasons and to get someone to take action on your behalf.

Resource or Resourceful
You need to be more than a name on a card or resume; you need be a resource they’ll keep on their radar for appropriate referrals and recommendations.

10.Hold your tongue.
It’s always better to say less rather than more and to remain silent than to put your foot in your mouth. If you don’t have anything to add, don’t feel obligated to talk. You can’t hurt yourself by being quiet, offering a friendly smile, or nodding to indicate that you are listening appreciatively.

It’s better to leave a neutral impression than to damage your reputation by speaking out of turn or making a politically incorrect statement. Plus, you never know what others who are listening could be hearing and then later reporting.

11.Be gracious
Write timely and responsive thank-you notes for invitations, assistance, introductions, referrals and advice. Not only does this show you have good manners and are courteous, but it also makes someone else feel appreciated and reminds them of your interaction.

12.Follow up.
To maximise the value of your networking efforts, be sure to follow up on the contacts you made. Make keeping in touch regularly with your network your new year’s resolution. You don’t want to be “out of touch; out of mind.” Persistence is a guaranteed advantage in the job market.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: