How To Boost Your Career With Holiday Party NetworkingDec 12, 2016
The holiday season is upon us and with it office parties, gatherings of friends and family, charity events, volunteer opportunities, and more. While we all like to kick back and relax it's also a time when we get to meet people in a casual context. And when you meet someone, what is the first question you are inevitably asked? As natural as can be you have an opportunity that may turn into your next job or a business deal with a little time.
Holiday parties give you the opportunity to talk with people you would not normally meet. In networking language these people are called weak connections because you don't have a solid relationship with them yet. Weak connections are the most likely place you will find someone who can help you. There are many reasons for this but one to think about is that if your close connections could help you they already would have. So what should you be doing now to be ready?
Here are Three Tips to Help You Be Ready
1. Know What You Want
The place to start is: knowing what it is you want next. Are you looking for an opportunity to develop and demonstrate new skills? Are you looking to move to a higher level? Perhaps your want to change careers all together? Start a part time business? Increase your income? Or perhaps you don’t know what you want next but you know you want something different or more.
Take some time now, not in January, to reflect on where you are in your career. Are you satisfied with how it’s developing? Most people are disappointed with their year end evaluations, how will you want to respond if you are disappointed?
2. Prepare for the Inevitable Question
When you attend any event the inevitable first question asked is:
“What do you do?”
Are you ready to answer that question in a way that moves your career forward?
This is where most people tell you to come up with some sort of corny elevator pitch. The idea is right, but most elevator pitches are obviously that and just fail to engage and a make a connection with the person you are talk with. Yes, you want to be prepared with something short that describes what you do but don’t make it a “pitch”. What is it that you find fascinating about your work and the work you want to be doing? If you find it fascinating you’ll probably get someone else interested too. And remember to incorporate where you are going, not just what you did in the past and are doing currently. For example:
I lead a team the sets up computer systems that record credit card transactions and look for fraud before it happens. I am looking for new areas where I can apply what I've learned to help improve a company’s financial performance.
3. Have a Clear and Powerful Ask
If you really know what you want next, ask for it. Not necessarily directly from the people you talk to but rather ask them if they know someone who can help. Whether you are looking to serve on a board, learn a new skill, find a mentor or even looking for someone to fill an opening, ask others for what you need. If you never ask the answer is always no. Here is an example:
Just keep in mind, you're networking any time you are meeting people and to keep it appropriate for the context you are in. No one wants to be at a party with someone trying to close a sale. But, best of all it is a time to begin and develop a genuine relationship.
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