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November 2011

A new spin on holiday networking

There you are at a holiday gathering in your brand new top or red sweater holding your Cuppa Good Cheer. You're feeling a little awkward. You've learned that you're supposed to use these social events to meet lots of people, make small talk, ask them what they do and how business is going. And then you have to be prepared for: “So, what are you up to? When I saw you this summer you were looking for work. How's that going?” Or “How's your job? What are you doing now?”

Instead of launching into a story about your company's troubles (or demise), or your agonizing job search, have a couple of lines ready to incorporate into your response: “You know, I see glimmers of hope that keep me feeling positive. Did you see the article in the WSJ (or News and Record) about XYZ company that implemented some great strategies to keep all their employees? And there's a new R&D company coming to Guilford County that looks promising. What are you seeing?”

There are lots of ways to make holiday networking work for you. Here are some thoughts for those of us who want to have fun and also make meaningful contacts.

  1. You are planting seeds. The holiday party is not the time to go into detail about your personal career situation. Have a few thoughts in your hip pocket to pull out that can keep a conversation going. Get back in touch AFTER the holidays for a follow-up information meeting.
  2. Present your business card (only if you're still affiliated with that company) or personal card only when the timing is right. You are not there to “work the room,” only to share information, be a resource and be interested.
  3. Be authentic. Don't try to be someone you're not.
  4. Learn and explore at this time of year — about key players in your industry and what's happening. The January job openings will go to those who have prepared themselves well in November and December.

I would love to hear your feedback on this topic and welcome your emails.

Kathleen Martinek, former UNCG alumni career counselor, has more than 15 years of experience in career development and corporate management.









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