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Information, helpful advice, and commentary about topics relevant to relaunchers.

Plan for Networking During the Holidays

In the coming weeks, you’ll probably be meeting with friends and family to start celebrating the holidays. It’s always a good time of year to rekindle relationships and meet new ones.

One of the most common stressors for those actively searching for career opportunities is what to say during holiday gatherings.  As with any new skill, learning how to network with people takes practice.  It can feel awkward when you are between jobs and would really love to find one, but you don’t want to come across as needy.

The holidays provide good places to meet informally and talk, without the feel of a business environment.  Naturally, to make the most of your gatherings while enjoying the festivities it helps to prepare in advance to know what to say.

The key to being yourself is being confident and comfortable in talking about your goals, you don’t want to reconnect with people by sounding like you memorized a script. Even if you are shy about talking about your job search, preparing will increase your courage and help you gather information.

Don’t assume that all your family and friends really understand your career. For example, you might be a project manager who focuses on distribution yet managing projects is a broad term. So, when you are preparing on what to say, it helps to describe what you like doing and what sets you apart from others.

The fear of bragging usually occurs about this time when preparing what to say and if not, careful you’ll minimize what people need to know in order to help you.  No one likes to be around someone who boasts and brags, but when meeting others you can help them by briefly describing what you are interested in and why.

If you do this one thing, it might change the way you view networking – describe what your ideal job would look like and how you are going about gathering information instead of expecting people to know of job openings.

Focus on your ideal job and you’ll be surprised at the information and brainstorming that naturally occurs as part of building rapport.

This never fails, so get ready for a couple of questions that most likely will happen during holiday gatherings.  As conversations ebb and flow, you’ll probably be asked “what do you do?”  This can be one of the most dreaded questions because you might be unsure of how to respond.

Without being defensive or embarrassed you can answer the questions without skipping a beat, “I am in transition right now” or “I have been in fundraising for a national organization over the last 10 years, helping them create new ways of reaching donors.” The strategy is to answer the questions in a confident way by giving them an answer and then having some questions for them to continue the conversation.

The clearer you are in describing yourself or career, the stronger the impression you’ll make even if the people you are talking with have known you for years.

Think about it like this – networking is just one letter away from not-working. Even though you might fret over what to say when mingling during the holidays networking is still the best way to gather information and discover a great opportunity.

Reprinted with permission Kim Thompson SFGATE – http://blog.sfgate.com – 11.22.19

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