Genuine Networking During Holidays and Events
If you’re anything like us, your life is full of social events and family gatherings. From dinners at grandma’s to catchup sessions with old friends, when you're so busy it may only seem logical to try and use the time to try and lock down some new contacts or even find that perfect job opening. However, with so many people trying to simply relax, it can be easy to come off as overbearing if you’re trying to slip someone your resume while they just try to have fun. With that in mind, we humbly present a list of ideas for more organic social event networking.
Do Your Homework
Taking a guest list on a quick dive through LinkedIn or Facebook can help you avoid unnecessary questions like, “Where are you living?” or “What’s your job?” See who’s working where, who’s graduated recently, and who may have accepted a brand-new position. Not only will it help you find other party-goers involved in your field, but it may even provide you with flattering small talk if you can congratulate an acquaintance on a new promotion that they’ve posted to their feed. Plus, it will help you avoid that stressful game of trying to remember the name of that guy who sat next to you in 12th grade Economics.
Ask the Right Questions
When it comes to reunions of old pals, perhaps the most popular question is “What have you been up to?” If a fellow party-goer mentions they’re working at one of your dream jobs, it may be tempting to bombard them with a million questions about the minutiae. “What’s the environment like? What kind of benefits do you get? What are the hours? Can you work from home? Is your boss nice?” Instead, try to keep conversations focused as much on the person’s life as possible. Show genuine interest and ask gently probing questions to get to know them better, and once you feel comfortable, drop in a mention that you’re interested in the work that they do. They may even start asking you some work-life questions in turn.
Carry a Card
As the night winds down at your gathering, you may start wondering what the best way is to solidify this newfound connection. Sure, you can suggest you add each other on Facebook or shoot them a LinkedIn request, or offer up your phone number or email for future correspondence. However, it may be best to go with a lighter touch. Carrying a personalized and informative business card not only gives your new friend something to remember you by – it also shows off your professional side and indicates you’re looking for new opportunities or a job.
After you’ve digested – both figuratively and literally – it’s time to get back to work. Making the effort to stay in touch after you’ve returned to work or school is a great way to show initiative. That being said, getting back to work is stressful enough without a new connection bombarding you. Again, employ a lighter touch and send a simple email or LinkedIn message thanking them and facilitating continued rapport. Instead, we recommend a loose, yet polite email or LinkedIn message thanking them for the chat and suggesting you stay in touch. Feel free to note upon any relevant discussion topics pertaining to work life, and focus on enriching your connection with this new contact as opposed to looking to exploit them for your own professional gain.
It’s not only acceptable to chat about work at parties and shindigs – it’s incredibly common to do so. However, with too much eagerness you can come off as a little bit much. Tap into your social side and let the conversation flow naturally, and always remember to leave them with a hint of professionalism by dropping your card and following up once the holidays come to a close. You’ll be sure to dazzle them with your attention to detail and initiative, and you may even end up with an invaluable contact for future use.