In recent days, I’ve heard from a couple of job seekers who said they’re suspending their search efforts until January. Indeed, many agency and corporate executives are winding down for the year and most will be traveling or taking time off during the next two weeks. But this isn’t the time to slow down your job search. Instead, adjust your focus to target social and family events as a way to expand your network.
Here are the 10 holiday networking tips I’ve found to be most effective:
1. Attend holiday events. That includes sometimes dreaded family gatherings. Bring your business cards and a 30-second “elevator speech“. I heard from someone this week who landed a full-time as a result of a lead from her aunt at the family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
2. When in public or attending a social event, dress to the level of the position you wish to land. If the job you’re seeking is business casual, don’t wear jeans and untucked shirt tails to social events where you might encounter someone with a job lead. If they don’t envision you in the role, they won’t mention it.
3. Escort a friend or relative to his or her office party (assuming guests are invited). This is a great networking venue; co-workers enjoy meeting friends of their colleagues.
4. Be positive and optimistic. No one wants to hear a sob story about the difficult job search process. People want to help those who are positive and enthusiastic about the careers they want to pursue.
5. Engage in 2-way conversation. Don’t be overly anxious to impress since it often leads to too much one-sided conversation. Most people enjoy talking, especially with people who are interested in what they are saying. A former colleague of mine who is particularly adept at sales says: “When you’re talking, the client is judging, when they’re talking they’re buying.”
6. Seek advice. Most people love to offer their advice to young people beginning their careers. Ask questions that demonstrate our interest in knowing more about what they do.
7. Follow-Up. Send a note or email to most of the people you met. Keep the message short, ideally mentioning something from your conversation with them and close with a brief request that they keep their ears open for possible job leads for you.
8. Develop contact spreadsheet of all social contacts, noting their jobs, email, phone number and interests. This becomes a great resource during your current search or during a future search.
9. Send holiday cards. With fewer and fewer people sending holiday cards, yours will stand out–especially if you include a personal note.
10. Stay in touch. When you see a news story that might be of interest to that individual, drop them a note. I receive five to 10 such emails a month from individuals I’ve met over the years–an effective way to subtly keep your name top of mind.