'Tis the season to be jolly … and to attend holiday parties. And you won’t want to miss them, no matter how introverted you are, if you’re job hunting.
Try to attend as many appropriate holiday parties as you can manage, most career experts advise. Holiday parties present a great opportunity to reconnect with professional contacts so you can let them know you are looking for work, make new contacts, and even link up with contacts at your targeted companies. Networking is the best way to find a job, so use these parties to your advantage.
In 8 Smart Ways To Network Like A Pro At Holiday Parties , Nancy Collamer provides guidance to help job seekers network at the season’s festivities:
Introduce yourself. Parties are a perfect place to meet new people and expand your network. So try to get to know at least two new folks at every event you attend this season. Chat with spouses and children too. You might be surprised at how interesting — and sometimes helpful — they prove to be.
Talk less, listen more.
Smart networkers focus on asking good questions. By asking questions, you’ll avoid talking too much or too little, problems that often plague nervous job seekers and introverts.
Limit shop talk. When you’re at office parties, it’s fine to have some work-related conversation (and always nice to compliment your co-worker or boss in front of their spouse or partner). But mix things up a bit with a touch of the personal.
Ask your co-workers questions about their families, hobbies or interests. That’s a nice way to get to know them better. You’ll undoubtedly discover new connections and commonalities.
Avoid touchy subjects.
Steer clear of politics, religion and hot-button social issues. It’s fine to mention that you’re looking for a new position. But don’t turn the conversation into a monologue about your job search. Just give your elevator pitch and then change the topic. If the other person seems interested in helping you, express your thanks and suggest continuing the conversation at a better time.
Keep it low-key. A holiday party is first and foremost a social event. So even if you’re desperate to find work, avoid a full-court networking press.
Offer your business card (and ask for one). You’ll want a way to stay in touch with key people you meet after the event, so ask for a card before ending a valuable conversation and give that person yours.
If you’re out of work and don’t have a business card through an employer, offer a networking card that has your name, job objective or professional tag line, e-mail address, phone number, LinkedIn profile URL and Twitter handle. Do not bring your resume to a holiday party.
In Holiday Party Tips for Job Seekers , Brandon Gutman provides additional suggestions for what to do at these types of functions including:
Try to hang out with the social butterflies who seem to know everyone. They might introduce you to the head honcho who is just standing in the corner eating crab cakes. Being extra social can be key to getting a lot more leads. Consider hosting your own simple event and invite all the new friends you have made.
Even if finding a new job is the highest item on your holiday wish list, don't act like it . As you meet and spend time with people who can assist your search, focus on them and their potential needs more than you and yours. Perhaps you can offer an introduction to a potential client or an internship lead for the person's child in college. Providing value that benefits someone's income, health or family will greatly increase the person’s desire to do the same for you.
But all your networking will be of no value, if you don’t follow up with contacts made at these festivities. Send email, holiday cards or LinkedIn invites with a personal message to keep connected and perhaps meet in person. Maintaining ties with your expanded network can lead you to your future employer. And that can make for a very happy new year!