‘Tis The Season for Informal Networking

Holiday networking

For students and job seekers, the holiday season can provide a networking bonanza for your job search. So, don’t pass up a party or extended family get together, and remain sober enough to remember who you meet.

While in New York last week for a friend’s office party, I talked with an agency CEO who said 9 out of 10 people with whom he exchanges business cards at such events never try to follow up with him afterwards. Besides the potential intimidation factor, he feels the low follow-up ratio might be tied to the level of alcohol consumption and ensuing memory loss. So besides knowing when to switch to soda and lime, here are my 10 other tips for successful networking over the holidays.

  1. Get Out and About. This isn’t the time to watch “A Christmas Story” or “Elf” for the umpteenth time. Set a goal to meet at least one person a day who you can add to your job-search network in the new year.
  2. Volunteer to be a friend’s “Plus One” at social events, especially weddings and office parties.
  3. Organize your own party for friends and alumni from high school or college. One of my former students organizes a quarterly event for fellow PR graduates. Local bars gladly provide free food and attendees pay for their drinks.
  4. Write reminder notes on the business cards of people you meet so your follow up can specifically mention something you discussed. Yes, you must follow up to be remembered.
  5. Schedule informational interviews. The holidays sometimes are more relaxed times in many offices, so ask friends and family contacts to help schedule informational interviews at places where you might like to eventually work.
  6. Arrange to meet people who hold jobs that interest you. People who like their jobs love to share their insights with those aspiring to enter the profession.
  7. Expand your social media engagement and update your profile. Make sure you look professional, both in your photo and description. Following people on Twitter shows continued interest in what they have to say. (By the way, I’m @Culpwrit on Twitter and my Facebook page is Culpwrit).
  8. Send a note and/or LinkedIn request within 24 hours of meeting someone. No generic LinkedIn requests, however. Hand-written notes make the biggest impression, so invest in some note cards and stamps.
  9.  In the new year, follow up with people by sending them links to articles or other information that you may have discussed during your initial conversation. This also is a good time to ask them to provide you with feedback on your resume.
  10. Create a spreadsheet of contact information and update it regularly with your outreach efforts.

Review other tips on networking from prior blog posts, including one about creating a networking spreadsheet

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