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When you go out to your next event instead of simply enjoying the fine selection of crab puff appetizers and glasses of champagne at all of the fun holiday parties you’re invited to this year, you should be using this chance as a networking opportunity to improve your
Do Preliminary Research
If possible, you want to know who is attending the party early on. This way you get a heads-up about the individuals you should give most of your attention to. If you’re really good friends with the host you might want to go ahead and ask them upfront if any of the guests in attendance may be of any interest to you professionally—for example, do they have a friend who is the manager of a particular company or the CEO?
If you don’t feel comfortable asking the host but you received an invitation to the event via Facebook, for example, you could always do a little snooping on your own and check out the confirmed guest list—check out their profiles and glance at their career info if available.
Make a Good Impression
Experts say on average you have 119 seconds to make a first impression—that’s either a good one or a bad one. Naturally, you’d rather it be the former not the latter. So smile, listen, and be cordial. Use some flattery (don’t overdo it though) and get the person to start opening up. Your goal is that you want to make friends with this person and build a relationship. Remember: the party is not a career fair.
If you come off as stiff and start spitting out your qualifications right off the bat and make things awkward you could turn people off. Besides, people go to parties to get away from work. So don’t make it all about business. That said, you need to weave-in your wants and goals seamlessly, which brings us to our next tip.
Look for Your Opening
You might have to start with small talk at first, but eventually, the right time to hint that you may be looking for a job should come up— and it’s important that you seize the moment. You may simply be asked “what do you do?” and this is your chance to say, “[This] is what I went to school for and my career aspirations are to do [this], unfortunately, I’m not getting any luck in the employment sector…”If you structure the conversation right, someone might just offer you his or her business card and say that they can help you. Or at the very least be able to get you in contact with someone who could help.
Keep in Contact
Lastly, even if the person wasn’t able to help you out right away, it’s important that you touch base with him or her from time-to-time. Sure they might not have an opening for you right away but an opportunity could arise and if you are fresh in their mind, chances are you’ll be offered a position first. So send an occasional email, text, and phone call when the time seems right to “check-in.” As a courteous gesture, you should always ask if there is anything you can do for your new friend as well.
While upcoming holiday parties are a great time to network that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun and enjoy yourself, just try to utilize your time wisely so you can mix business and pleasure.