Thursday, December 3, 2009

Networking Mistakes - Don't be THAT GUY at your holiday party

Now that we’ve entered December, we’re starting the month of holiday parties. Many job seekers utilize holiday parties as ways to build or renew networking contacts. Unfortunately, many candidates can do themselves more harm than good.

Here’s how to avoid some common networking no-no’s, just in time for the holidays…
  1. Know the difference between a holiday party and an interview: Too often job seekers use the opportunity of a holiday party to launch right into their elevator pitch – Bad Move. Instead, use the time to build or renew your relationship. Follow up with a call and schedule a time to learn more about their company. If the other person asks you about your job search, suggest you contact them to set up a time to talk about it further…not at the party.

  2. Spend twice as much time listening than talking: Many candidates (especially when alcohol is added to the festivities) talk when they could gain more value from listening. Ask questions, learn about the other persons’ interests…and shut up. You’ll build a better relationship and find more ways to help if you let the other person do the talking.

  3. Instead of asking for help find ways to help: Find ways to help the other person, rather than ask for help. Find out about charities, social causes, interests, hobbies, the other person’s business – think of ways to help. Don’t give suggestions, names, or connection information at the party – they get lost and you want a reason to schedule time other than asking for help. If you are successful in helping someone, they usually feel they should help you in return.

  4. Don’t be a hanger: Rather than hang on one person or group all night, talk to many. Once you’ve asked the other person enough questions, listened to them, found out how you can help…move on. There’s a bathroom or more food calling your name.

  5. Talk to people outside your industry: If you’re in tech, find non-technology people to talk to. This helps you differentiate yourself more effectively than if you only spend your time with people in your industry. Best yet - talk to people you don't already someone new.

  6. Never, Never, Never bring your resume to a holiday party. You’re at a party not an interview, paper resumes get lost, and most companies want digital resumes.

  7. Don’t wait to take notes: As soon as you leave the party, either in your car or right when you get home, write down who you talked to what you talked about, interests, and how you can help. Enter these into whatever personal contact manager you use.

  8. Don’t forget to send a follow up: Even if it’s just an email saying nice to meet you, nice to see you again, make contact. Don’t tell the story of your job search in your email. Instead, in your signature block, include a link to your Linkedin profile, online resume, Resublog, or online portfolio.

  9. Don't be a bore: make the other person laugh

  10. Don't dump your job search on the world: Be Positive!

Even though it’s not an interview, behave yourself like it is one, because you are forming impressions. People won’t refer you if they feel it will reflect poorly on themselves, and spilling the mostaccioli on your shirt probably isn’t the impression you want to make.

Readers – If you have other suggestions for holiday party networking ideas, please list them in the comments.

Happy Holidays and Happy Networking!

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