Looking for an Opportunity? Let the Party Commence!

December 3rd, 2010 1 Comment

Who doesn’t like a party? Each and every one of us can plan a holiday party, it takes minimal effort to put together a nice, memorable event. A little music, a few friends, and some conversation. Keep it simple. Offer a variety of snacks or ask everyone to bring a favorite munchie. Keeping relationships going is about getting together regularly.

Networking is really about relationships, longer term relationships, that’s all it is. So it is essential to keep our relationships going, even when we’re busy. The need to carve out the time and stay connected is imperative. So even if it has been a while since you have connected with someone, reach out to colleagues and friends. During the holidays it is more natural to connect with those you may not have talked with in a while.

Networking is very much about getting information and sharing information. You have to be out there talking and communicating with others to have this exchange.

So where to start? One place is right in your own neighborhood. Do you know your neighbors? Consider having a neighborhood gathering for the holiday. Getting to know our neighbors is so important safety-wise for one thing, but also these people need to be part of our greater networks. Even when you are out walking the dog, take your business cards, people are always stopping anyone walking dogs or babies and conversations start naturally. We do not know where our future jobs or opportunities are going to come from, your next new job could actually originate from a lead that comes from someone right in your own neighborhood. Where do your neighbor’s friends and family work, who do they know? We won’t know unless we get to know people right around us and talk with them on a regular basis. Hence, a party, a dinner or an outing from time to time. In the summer it can be a barbeque, during the holidays nothing is more natural than a holiday get together. Don’t miss the opportunity. Often people will say that their friends or family members don’t know of anyone who can help them connect to others in their industry. I always tell the story of my son and Grandma. Grandma got my son a job at Yahoo. This is a true story. How could this happen? She lived in a senior living apartment where all the seniors go down to dinner each day and brag about their kids and grandkids. She made the connection through another senior who knew someone at Yahoo which led to the job. So there you go!

If not your neighbors, choose a few friends and colleagues to invite over. Be friendly and have fun. If you prefer a smaller group, put together a small gathering of several interesting people. Could be a game night or a movie night or a book club. Your objective is just getting to know one another beyond surface acquaintance and staying connected. Follow-up one-on-one with those with whom you share similar interests.

Regular networking when you are employed makes it much easier to network during the periods when you are not employed. You will be much more comfortable and natural. Those who have solid networks keep them going continually and are generally the first to be re-employed. Not to mention the fact that good relationships are also a plus for our mental health and help to bring our stress levels down, so this effort has more than one purpose.

As well, it is important to attend holiday or other events. Put the dates on the calendar and attend even if you don’t feel quite up to it. You do not know who you might meet or connect with. The holidays are a good time to attend your professional events, the mood may be more relaxed and it may be easier to talk with others. Take advantage of these opportunities to get to know others and then follow up with them. Realize also that you will not have instant results. This is a long term strategy. If you attended one event and didn’t get the results you were hoping for, keep it going. Eventually you will. When I think back, I have gotten almost every one of my job leads through a connection and this is true even more so in these economic times. Most people do not get their new positions through online job postings, rather through a contact or referral from a fellow human.

Commit to attending events regularly. Commit to hosting an event every few months and invite a variety of people. You will see your opportunities expand along with your network.

Ann Smith is a professional trainer and coach focusing on career strategies, leadership and communication and employee engagement.

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  1. […] Ann Smith teach you how to have fun and be productive at the same time.¬† Her latest blog “Looking for an Opportunity? Let the Party Commence!” is packed with useful tips on successful networking though fun parties, a must read this […]

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