Accept all the invitations you receive and consider the networking you're going to do as a key part of your job search. Even if you don't feel like going to a party or other holiday celebration, you'll not only meet people who can, and would like, to help. You might even have much more fun than you expected!
Phil Haynes, Managing Director of AllianceQ, the group of Fortune 500 companies, and over 3000 small and medium sized companies, that have collaborated to create a pool of job candidates, shares his tips for holiday networking at parties, so you can get the most out of the events you attend.
Holiday Party Networking Tips from AllianceQ:
Don't turn down invites to holiday parties. The more contacts the better even if contact is minimal. You never know who you'll meet and the goal is have a contact who remembers who you are and what you do.
Everyone you meet could be a potential lead, so introduce yourself well. Practice and perfect the art of introducing yourself. Again, clearly and simply. Figuring out your "sound bite" is worth it. It gets that conversational ball rolling!
Ask for advice. Ask for information. While it's not really appropriate to ask for a job at a holiday party, speak the language. Use phrases such as "I'm interested in learning more about." or "I respect your opinion and wanted your advice about this career or job." People are more receptive to being a resource than a means to an end!
Take notes about the people you meet. After any holiday party, jot down on their business cards or on a contact info card what they do, a topic you discussed, or a common interest to job your memory. This can be helpful for using in future contacting.
Listen. Your contacts can provide valuable information and insight if you aren't too busy doing all the talking!
Be natural and conversational. Try to establish a sense of rapport. Mention something or someone you have in common. Ask simple questions to engage general conversation. Above all, try to avoid sounding like your reading from a script!
Follow up. Be sure to ask for business cards from each new person you meet and then follow up with them referencing something specific from your conversation.