The holidays provide an excellent opportunity for job seekers. Many professionals are in a more festive, friendly and giving mood this time of year, especially if their business had a successful year. Also, many companies are trying to finalize their budgets and fill job openings by January 1st. And since so many people and businesses throw parties at this time of year, you have a chance to step up your professional networking during the holidays. Here are some helpful holiday networking tips for job seekers:
1) Don’t try to go everywhere and see everyone
To make meaningful professional connections while networking during the holidays, don’t pressure yourself to hit every event and talk to every single person at events you attend. First, be choosy about events you go to. Do research beforehand to find out what the event will be like and the crowd that the event targets. If it’s an event for small businesses and you are interested in working for a Fortune 500 company, the event may not be worth your time. Do research beforehand to find out some of the businesses and professionals that will be attending an event you are interested in. That way when you arrive at the event, you can have an idea of who you’d like to speak to. Also, one of the crucial holiday networking tips for job seekers is to aim to meet a few people at the event that you give a generous amount of time and attention, instead of meeting a ton of people whose names you will barely remember.
2) Listen carefully and show interest in others
When networking during the holidays, it’s important to take the focus off yourself. When you speak to professionals you meet during the holidays, do everything you can not to come across as a desperate job seeker or too self-interested. Way before you get to the point where you can ask someone to help you with your job search, you need to slowly get to know the person and allow them to get to know you. One of the holiday networking tips that will help you strike up an initial conversation is to ask the person what brought them to the event, where they live, where they work, etc. Then you can continue to build the conversation on areas of their lives that you either are curious about or have something in common with.
3) Know your business card and resume etiquette
When attending parties and other professional networking events during the holidays, don’t show up with your resume. Your resume can be sent later on to the contacts you establish meaningful professional relationships with. One of the holiday networking tips that will help you and the professionals you meet remember each other is to exchange business cards. But be judicious with whom you hand business cards out to. Wait until you have had a conversation with someone and there is an indication you have common ground and potential for a future business relationship. Also, since you are likely to want to move on at some point and talk to other professionals, handing your business card to someone is a comfortable way to end the conversation.
4) Know how to follow up
Since greeting cards are a common theme this time of year anyways, a great way to follow up after professional networking events during the holidays is to send handwritten and personalized thank you cards. If you feel it is appropriate, you can include a copy of your resume. But if you choose to do this, make it a shorter version of your resume that contains less detail and simply highlights your main skills, experience and career goals. Also, another one of the helpful holiday networking tips for job seekers is to reach out to any old professional contacts you already have. You’d be surprised how many of them will be inspired by holiday cheer and willing to engage in conversation.
Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.