By Kim Slaton, CPRW, Managing Director, JVS Career Services
Whether you are searching for a new position or working towards securing career advancement, networking is key. Use the holiday season to leverage the connections of colleagues and meet new people while schmoozing at all the seasonal parties and gatherings. Here are some things to keep in mind as the party invites start coming in.
Spend some time preparing and create a plan.
Think strategically about the people you will be meeting and craft your “elevator pitch” accordingly. This might be the only time during the year when you’ll have audience with specific people. Now’s your chance to guide your conversations in the direction that will be impactful for you and your goals. Do your homework and develop a list of great questions targeted to those you anticipate meeting. Make sure you have your resume updated in case it is requested and have your contact calling cards ready to exchange as you meet people.
Think of networking as an investment in your future.
Networking and relationship building takes time, energy and effort. Don’t wait until you are out of a job to begin to network. By developing relationships over time your connections will be more genuine and these contacts will be much more likely to help you when you are looking for a new position.
Maximize your time at each gathering.
Most folks want to show up for holiday gatherings, make an appearance, enjoy the offerings, and then leave. Plan on arriving at the start of the event and stay as long as you need to see and speak with those on your networking list. Remind yourself to “work the room” so you don’t end up speaking with the same person the entire time. Take notes about your conversations and schedule follow-up tasks as soon as possible while the exchanges are fresh in your mind.
Networking is a two-way street.
Keep in mind that networking is an exchange of information. Instead of beginning conversations about yourself and your situation, ask questions and listen. Find ways to be helpful and focus on giving. Offer to be a mutually beneficial networker and suggest ways you can facilitate networking opportunities for the people you’re talking with. Your network will, in turn, be more willing to bend over backwards to be helpful to you.
Keep your network alive and healthy.
Touch base with those in your network to stay on their radar with the occasional email, phone call, or text. Use birthday or anniversary greetings as simple ways to stay in touch. Or share a link or anecdote you know they will find interesting. Once you have invested the time to create a connection with someone, nurture the relationship to keep it strong.
Kim Slaton, CPRW, JVS Career Services Managing Director, is a Senior Career Consultant with more than 12 years of experience advising people in transition about how to prepare a successful marketing strategy for today’s competitive job market. Kim is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and a certified practitioner of the Myers-Briggs® personality assessment tool. In addition, Kim has contributed to and reviewed several college career course textbooks. Kim’s focus is on building relationships with her clients by getting to know them and learning about what empowers and motivates them to achieve. Partnering with clients from all backgrounds and industries, Kim provides focused and effective methods for navigating various life transitions. This includes college graduates, young professionals, mid-career professionals, executive level clients and retirees seeking encore careers.