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Holiday Season is the Perfect Time for Networking

Hiring often slows down during December but job hunting can be red hot, especially if you take advantage of all the opportunities to network. With more parties and social gatherings, you will have more occasions to mingle. As you casually chitchat remember to ask where somebody works and learn a bit about their job. File the information away to help you create, advance, or develop a networking relationship.

A critical mistake an unemployed person makes is to be embarrassed about their situation and skip all the socializing. Bad idea! Go to as many events as possible. When asked what you do, state what your old job was, proudly adding, "After January 1st, I'm making a career move." Enthusiastically share your goals. People like to help if they can, so mention that you'll contact them soon. Keep the tone of these conversations positive, social, and casual. You will increase your contacts and referral sources tenfold.

Last year, Kathleen was laid off and was reluctant to network. I encouraged this career counseling client to strike up conversations at holiday functions. At a party she met two interesting people and later scheduled a meeting with them. She was able to get leads that had her working in a great job, for a new employer, by February.

Bill felt that he would need to move on to get promoted. I encouraged him to network internally and he met a senior executive at a company event. This initial contact developed into a mini-mentoring relationship, which helped Bill obtain a dream promotion. Networking does work -- in fact, according to the Department of Labor, last year 61% of all jobs where found through networking.

Here are the best strategies for successfully networking through the holidays:

Commonality is a key

An outside interest or hobby can be a foundation for developing a professional connection. Golfing, skiing, scrapbooking, school fundraisers, photography, working out, neighborhood parties -- any group activity can lead to new contacts.

Working parents can expand their network by socializing with the parents of their kids' friends. Numerous opportunities avail to meet other parents who can become part of your informal network. Be friendly, and at some point make it a priority to learn what the person does and where they work.

Reconnect with old friends, especially college pals. This network can help you find a new job, get a promotion, secure new clients or customers. Contact your alumni association to get current addresses.

Networking dos and don'ts

Do ...

Don't ...

Recognize that networking is now a strategy for learning how to improve on the job. Getting to know other people with whom you can share information, explore ideas, and problem-solve will be an asset to your long-term career success. So be happy, jolly and NETWORK this holiday season.

-Robin Ryan

Copyright 2005 Robin Ryan. All rights reserved.

America's most popular career counselor, Robin Ryan, is the author of four bestselling books: 60 Seconds & You're Hired!, Winning Resume & Winning Cover Letters, and What to Do with the Rest of Your Life. She's appeared on over a thousand TV & radio shows including Oprah, Dr. Phil, and has been published in most major newspapers and magazines including USA Today & the Wall Street journal. Contact her at 425.226.0414; email: info@robinryan.com.

www.robinryan.com