Not only are holiday parties great for bringing people together, but they are also great for bringing people together for networking purposes. Whether a holiday party or a networking event, it is a great opportunity to connect with power players who may have a need that they need filled. The last thing you want to do is come off as someone who only wants to talk about business when the holiday atmosphere is flowing. The key is balance and to mix business with pleasure.
BEFORE THE PARTIES
Update your résumé and LinkedIn profile. When looking for a new job or new career, it is vital to have a presentable and updated résumé on hand. If you don’t have a résumé, you need to have one created from scratch or if you have one, make sure it is updated. The résumé must be employer based, so please no pronouns. Many people are intimidated by creating their own résumé or just don’t know how to properly format one. Trust me I know! I created Resume Newbie out of the dozens of people I encountered that had no idea what today’s hiring managers were looking for.
LinkedIn is one of the best tools for any profession. Don’t have a LinkedIn profile? You need to set one up NOW! If you want to enhance your job search having a profile on LinkedIn in crucial. Your profile is not simply an exact copy of your résumé, but the enhanced platform to expand on skills and projects that’s not needed on your actual résumé. Think of it as your résumé as the snapshot and the LinkedIn profile as your portfolio.
Complete your profile as much as you can. Having a profile on LinkedIn is necessary when building an online networking community. Millions of people network through LinkedIn.com, and you would be silly if you didn’t take advantage of this great marketing tool. One of the most ignored part of your online presence is your photo. Make sure it’s as professional as possible and looks like you.
We don’t need to see half an arm where you cropped someone from a party picture. I know you may think you look great, but don’t use it. You don’t need professional pictures here. Have a friend take a simple head shot against a blank wall and you’re good to go. Most cell phone cameras look better than a professional camera anyway. If you need help with your résumé or LinkedIn profile, and don’t want to figure it all out on your own, click here.
DURING THE PARTIES
Don’t drink! Or, if you drink keep it light. The worst thing you can do is be the person who can’t hold their liquor.
Keep a pen. Yes, I know that everything is on our phone and there’s an app for everything, but nothing replaces a pen. It allows you to jot down quick notes on the back of business cards quickly without having to open an app. You want to stay present and keep your eyes on the prize. Not everyone has a job search on their mind and you are one of many that one may meet that night. Once the drinks start flowing, one may not even know who you are! You need to rely on any common stories or details from that night to jog their memory.
Send an email within 24 hours. This isn’t just the simple, “it was great to meet you!” email. This is where the notes come in. Send an email to each person, preferably through their LinkedIn profile first, letting them know it was great to meet them and your desire to nurture the relationship. We are in a culture of takers. It’s not what they can do for you, but what you can do for them. Present yourself from a position of solving their problem. Here’s an example:
Great to meet you after the Startup Technology networking event yesterday. During our conversation you mentioned that the quarter has been difficult due to your lack of IT support. Here is a great resource that has assisted me in my technology needs and I’m sure it will assist you in improving results (added link). I have turned around several IT departments and increased efficiency at an average of 20% within the first three months of hire. It would be great to meet with you and give you some insight on what can be done to eliminate your IT woes.
With these tips you are sure to maximize every business card you collect!