Network Through the Holidays
Dec 17, 2015
5 Ways to Network Your Way Through the Holidays
As the weather turns colder and the holiday season approaches, you may think that it’s time to hunker down and play things safe until the new year. If you currently have a job but are looking to move up, you may be planning to refresh your resume after the New Year. If you are currently unemployed and looking for a job, you may be giving up hope as the holidays approach and you will run into friends and family who will inevitably ask how your job search is going.
Holidays can be Great for Networking
I want to urge you to look at the next two months in a different way. There are any number of events coming up that you can use to your advantage if you plan ahead a bit and make sure you are prepared going in.
1. Holiday Parties
Chances are you will attend at least one holiday party this year. Whether it is a work party for your spouse or significant other or just a friends and family get-together, there will be a time when you are in a room with a bunch of people, some of whom you may not know.
Don’t sit there and be a wallflower near the rye dip (that’s where I’ll be). Get out there in the crowd and talk to some people. Move a bit outside your comfort zone and seek someone out that you’ve never spoken with before. If you aren’t comfortable starting a conversation cold, ask a mutual friend to introduce you.
The more people you talk to, the better the chances of finding someone who has knowledge of a job opening up soon that you might be a fit for. If you get into a nice conversation with that person and you apply for the job, they can act as a resource for information about the position and the company, all of which can give you just enough leg up on the competition to land the job.
2. School Concerts/Plays/etc.
Just like the parties, any school event is something that brings together people from many different walks of life. In the time leading up to the holiday break, there will always be concerts, musicals, plays and other assemblies where parents can attend and see what their kids have been working on.
If you don’t have children of your own, don’t fret. Ask siblings or cousins if there are events you can attend for their kids. You can even return to your alma mater and check things out there. You might even run into some old teachers and get some valuable information from them.
3. Going to See Santa
I know what you’re saying, Santa? Really?
Think about it. We’ve all seen A Christmas Story (and if you haven’t I’m sure it’s going to be on TBS for 24 hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day again this year) and one of the iconic scenes in that movie is when Ralphie is in line to see Santa and the wait goes on for what seems to him like an eternity. If you have younger children who can’t wait in line by themselves as Ralphie did, don’t waste that time in line complaining that the line is so long. Talk to the other parents in line with you. You never know where the conversation might go and who might end up as a co-worker early next year!
4. Christmas Shopping
This follows closely with the previous item. Anyone who goes to stores to do their Christmas shopping knows that lines are a part of the experience (sorry, this one doesn’t work for online shopping). Chances are that you’ll get stuck in some of these lines as you are waiting to check out your purchases.
Again, don’t waste that time staring at your phone or playing another round of Angry Birds. Strike up some conversations with the patrons around you. It’s pretty easy to find common ground since you’re all stuck in the same line waiting for the same thing in the same store.
Don’t be afraid of holiday dinners
5. Family Dinners
This might be the most uncomfortable spot on the list, but one worth exploring if you happen to have family in that you don’t see on a regular basis. Make sure you have some information prepared about your situation before going to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner since aunts and uncles will probably ask how your work is going.
Don’t be afraid to tell people that you are out of work but actively looking. Oftentimes relatives can offer advice and tips, but there is also a chance that they know of something opening up in their own company.
One thing to be aware of here, if Uncle Charlie asks you to come work for him…think long and hard before saying “yes.” It can be nice working for family, but it can also be very taxing on the relationship. Make sure you think it through carefully before jumping on an opportunity like that and make sure you will still be able to smile at him across the table NEXT Thanksgiving if things don’t work out.
The big lesson here is to not waste any opportunities during your job search. You interact with plenty of people as you go about your daily life and the holidays can increase this number substantially. Be ready to take advantage of those interactions when they happen.