Job connections can develop at unexpected times. Years ago I met someone at a party who worked at our company’s corporate headquarters.  Several months later I was invited to interview for a new position at the headquarters based on the meeting at that party. And I landed the job!  Last summer one of our outplacement clients, Julie, landed a new job as the result of discussing her love of animals with some people at her husband’s company picnic. Turns out a co-worker’s wife works at an animal hospital and told her about an opening at the front desk. Within a week, Julie had started her new job there.

holiday-party-2The more we talk to people, the more we learn! Social gatherings can provide great ways to reconnect or meet new people. Instead of dreading all those holiday gatherings, try to view this as a great way to source some new job possibilities. In our career transition programs, here are six things we recommend:

Prep – Prior to attending a party, in addition to figuring out what to wear and what to bring (wine or another plate of brownies!) do some mental preparation.  Be ready with a 60 second statement explaining what you do (if you’re working), what you did (if you’re in transition), or what you’d like to do (if you’re underemployed).

Be a Storyteller – People love stories.  After your 60 second statement, launch into a very brief story that illustrates your work-related gifts and experiences.

Capture Contact Information – Have your smartphone or small pad and pen handy to quickly record someone’s contact information. While in college Bill Clinton carried blank index cards (before the days of technology!) and every time he met a new student he jotted down relevant information. Throughout his life, Clinton’s networking really paid off!

Smile, Smile, Smile – No one wants to spend time with someone who bashes a current or former employer. Additionally, no one would ever offer to help that person with a business introduction.  Its fine to say you were disappointed to lose your job or are frustrated in being underemployed, but project the attitude that this is the world today and you’re determined to make lemonade out of lemons.

Follow Up – But don’t stalk someone! If you connected with someone at a party who offered to speak with you at a later time, be appropriately persistent in following up. Don’t wait for them to call – if you need the help you have to be the one to reach out. Be sure to include in your follow up email or voice message a brief reminder of who you are and where you met.  However, understand that people are busy and may not respond immediately.  Rule of thumb is to follow up four times, about once a week. If after that you do not get a response, chalk it up to the effusive effects of party talk when people sometimes make promises they can’t keep.

Don’t Overindulge – Have fun but don’t over drink.  A drunken networker won’t land a follow up meeting!

Please share your party networking stories – both successes and disappointments –  and any additional tips you may have.

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