Holiday parties are in full swing and the chances of you running into someone that could help you with your life and career is significantly higher this time of year. You’ll be chatting it up with people from all walks of life, and opportunities can pop up when you least expect it.
For example, at one point I was living in Charlotte, NC, and flying home to Detroit for the holidays. I’m not normally one to strike up conversations with strangers on airplanes (I love taking this time to peacefully read), but for some reason, I started chatting with the girl sitting next to me during this particular flight. We started discussing our holiday plans, her layover in Detroit to New Jersey, what we both were doing in Charlotte and ended up finding a pretty interesting connection to a company that we both had involvement with.
This then led to her explaining to me that she and her family recently opened a new business, and they were looking for qualified help - which was very much related to the company connection that we both had. She told me to stop by the shop when I came back to Charlotte and we could discuss a potential position.
Three weeks later I started my first day at her shop, and loved every second of that job!
While this may not necessarily be the networking you’re anticipating coming into play during this year’s holiday meet and greets, there are definitely things that I did - and more importantly, did not do - to create a stronger immediate connection and land that amazing job.
Don’t just wait for them to approach you
It’s easy to just fall into the background at these events. I’ll admit, I’m honestly sometimes the last person to open up and appear super introverted as some of these events. That’s certainly not because I’m interested, but just sometimes because I’m actually spending more time listening and understanding my surroundings before I dive into the conversation. However, the best advice I can give you is to not always be like me! Quick lurking around and just step up and be proactive! If there’s someone you’d like to meet, just step up an introduce yourself. The easiest way to do this? Strike up a conversation while waiting in line at the bar.
Don’t immediately ask if they can help you find a job
Unless you’re networking with Kayla and me, even a recruiter isn’t hanging around a holiday party to figure out who they can help find a job for by tomorrow. Phrases like, “Are you hiring? or “Can you get me a job?” are completely cringe-worthy this time of year to people who may have connections. Make sure to ease your way into a more meaningful relationship and conversation before even discussing potential connection possibilities.
Don’t ramble on about what you do
We spend a lot of time talking about an Elevator Pitch when it comes to consultation meetings we have with our clients. Ideally, this should be a solid explanation of who you are and what you do in about 1-2 minutes. Anything more and your listener has started to tune out. Get to the point and move on to a more interesting conversation to build that stronger relationship!
Don’t let them do all the talking
There are solid conversation starters that you can be asking this new contact to help you create a more impactful impression, and likewise, learn a lot more about how this person can potentially help you in the future. Ideally, you’re looking to ask this person questions that can give you more context and background on who they are as an individual.
“Where are you from?”
“I’d love to hear more about what you do.”
“What are you working on right now?”
Likewise, when someone is asking you a question in this networking scene, don’t just give them short flat answers. If someone asks what you do, and you just say, “I’m a writer,” and leave it at that, don’t expect them to keep pushing to follow up to dig for more. Give them more substance such as, “I’m a writer. I actually work closely with small businesses to create compelling copy for ads and websites.”
Don’t forget your business cards
When it’s time to part ways, make sure you leave your new friend with a business card and the best way to contact you in the future. We know that business cards can start to pile up after a while, so consider looking into a business card app where you can add these contacts directly to your phone.
Overall, we honestly believe networking should be a lot more natural. People tend to shy away from any type of networking event because of the pressure to actually network and potential work-related conversations that may come up. If you go to these events looking to simply make more meaningful connections with other people, you’ll have a great time and a lot more success!
Got any networking tips and tricks that have worked best for you in the past? Share them with us in the comments below!