December can be a tricky time to look for a job. Some businesses are hiring, and others are setting the stage for hiring in January. So what do you do if you’re looking for a job or thinking about looking for a job – put the search on hold? Absolutely not! Instead, take advantage of opportunities to network during the holidays.
Here’s a strategy to keep you from living in fear of the dreaded “How is work going?” and “What are you up to?” conversations. When you give the strategy a whirl, you’ll be closer to facing those social events without fear!
If you are an introvert, you’re working on overdrive the entire time you’re in a party or networking environment. There are people everywhere; plenty of noise, strangers, and it’s just plain overwhelming. Sound familiar?
Btw, just sucking it up and learning to love networking? Not gonna happen. You’re not going to suddenly change from introvert to extrovert. My networking plan will help you approach holiday events with more confidence so the very thought of going to a party doesn’t send you retreating to your comfy sofa with your favorite blanket and Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel!
Step 1: Limit the number of events you attend and be picky about them.
If being around hordes of people sucks all the energy out of you, try picking two or three events to attend. And, if that’s too many, pick one – and make it strategic.
Select an event where you know there will be people who you would like to connect with, perhaps even talk to about your job search. You could even choose an event based on opportunities to practice your answers to the job questions before you nail your pitch (practice will help you craft a better pitch).
Step 2. Pick a minimum time to stay.
Decide on the least amount of time you can handle (at least ½ hour). You can do a lot in 30 minutes. And, you know can handle being around a bunch of people for 30 minutes because you have a plan!!
Step 3. Get There Early.
Then there’s arriving early! You’re thinking that nobody will be there yet. Exactly! How much less intimidating to walk into a room with other people (probably introverts, too) who arrived early. No barging into already established conversation groups. No walking through a crowd of people that sucks every bit of energy from your quaking body. Nope. When you arrive early, you can make your move in a small group of people.
Step 4. Pick a target number of people to meet.
When you know you only have to approach a finite number of people at the event, you limit your anxiety. So, why not start with 2? Let’s say at least 2 and no more than 5. So, if you talk to 2 people and you’re ready to go home, you’ve had a successful event. Remember, if you get there and decide to talk to more people, that’s a bonus!
Step 5. Practice your answer to the dreaded job questions.
Practice!! You’ve selected an event based on people you would like to connect with. So here’s a tip on how to answer those dreaded questions about your work. Eventually you can grow your answer into a pitch based on what you learn from your conversations.
Keep in mind that people want to help you, so open up a little – ask for their input. Think about your target career opportunity – you don’t have to have an exact job in mind, just a general idea.
In your answer to “How’s work?” you can reply, “I’m thinking about changing things up. I’d like to find a different way to use my project management/ community building/ business analysis skills. Have any ideas?” If you’re thinking about a particular job title, you can mention it. And, BOOM, you’ve done it, answered the dreaded job question.
Step 6: Ask them questions, too!
Then you can ask them more questions and talk about what they’re doing. It will develop into a conversation that includes exploration on both sides.
I can hear you thinking, “Wait a minute. Don’t I have to have an elevator speech or a pitch or branding or whatever?” Not yet you don’t. You do not have to have your pitch in place to take talk about change.
Use the script in Step 5 because it’s waaaay too easy to use not having a pitch as an excuse to avoid parties and conversations about work.
Step 7: Go forth and conquer!
You’ve got this, so show up! Please. Go to the party. You’ve got a plan, you’re golden!
Stay 30 minutes and meet your 2 people. Then leave. Then go to your next event and do it again. If you can stay longer, do. Remember, 2 people, 30 minutes equals a win!
I’m not gonna lie. If you’re an introvert, I can’t promise that you’ll all the sudden be comfortable in networking situations. However, I can promise you that having a plan in place will reduce your anxiety.
Want some help getting ready for networking? Call me! 404-480-0849.