As this is the season to mix and mingle, we are featuring our popular interview from last year with local management consultant Lisa Dare about networking strategies during the holidays. Here is some of what she had to say:
Lisa, we have heard that contrary to popular belief, Christmas holidays are actually a promising time to secure a new position. Do you agree?
That’s a great question and yes, it is a myth that holidays or quieter times of business aren't a good time to be looking for work. Consider that most job seekers mistakenly assume that activity slows down in companies and therefore decrease their search efforts. By virtue of that thinking, this creates less competition and easier entry into speaking with potential employers. At the moment, the job market is pretty hot as I spoke with several HR recruiters from the oil & gas industry last week who have not seen any decrease in their workload. Also, while people may not secure a position right away at this time, it’s still a good idea to have informational interviews and gather market information on various industries as people generally tend to be in a much more receptive frame of mind around the holidays.
Is it quantity over quality during big parties? Should the goal be to connect with as many people as possible?
I would always choose quality over quantity. There is a tendency towards thinking that the higher the number the better the odds. However, from a strategic point of view, it is important to consider the best use of time and resources. Are you better off handing out your business card to 50 people whom you may not remember, or speaking with 5 or 6 people with whom you made a strong connection and then continuing to build those relationships? People will also find that by investing time in cultivating those relationships, the numbers will come—that’s the power of networking combined with strong relationship building skills.
What about party etiquette when someone is networking? For example, is it wise to stay clear of the rum and eggnog?
It’s important to remember that in these types of events you are always “on.” Be aware of what type of image and impression you are conveying to the public. It is not to say that you shouldn’t be yourself but depending on the context of your situation, it might be wise not to over imbibe as you want to be able to put your best self forward and not an altered version of yourself. There are many an office party story that has resulted in unfortunate outcomes for both staff and managers alike—you want to steer clear of becoming one of those characters.
Do you have any other networking advice over the holiday season?
While it is important to continue your efforts over the holidays, don’t forget to take time out for yourself. Ensure that you have sufficient time to attend to yourself and those around you as well as continuing with your job search. Look for different opportunities and events that are connected to what you are looking for. In addition, volunteer opportunities, community events, spousal parties and events within your network may also hold possibilities so be open to all opportunities. Most importantly—stay positive. This is the season to reflect on what we are grateful for and look forward to greater possibilities.
Lisa Dare is a management consultant, leadership & executive coach, and facilitator. She is also the incoming president of the Calgary Association of Professional Coaches and a volunteer with the Central Library’s Strategic Networking program that runs every Thursday evening at the Central Library. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org