I’m determined to advance my career in 2016 which requires changing positions. Fortunately, I’m also attending numerous holiday parties and plan to use my network to get the word out. There will also be a few individuals in attendance I don’t know, but would like to approach. Any advice?
-On the Move
Dear On the Move,
Congrats on making the decision to change positions and taking immediate action. Holiday parties are a wonderful way to re-connect with your network and share your goals as long as your cognizant of the fact people come to celebrate, not necessarily discuss business.
- If possible, check the guest list in advance. Who do you want to meet? Is there anyone attending you already know who can make an introduction? If so, reach out beforehand and solicit their help.
- Do your homework. Research your hit-list’s social profile for conversation starters and genuine topics of interest.
- Keep the conversation about the other person, rather than you. Yes, I know your goal is to leverage this opportunity, yet you need to build trust and be interested in others before going after what you want. That can come later after you’ve built rapport.
- Have an elevator speech. Should you be asked directly about your career, be ready. Here’s some phraseology: “My current role as (position) with (company) has provided an outstanding opportunity to allow me to (develop my skills in X, or achieve my goal of X). Next year I’m looking to leverage what I’ve learned by finding a position in (department) as a (position).”
- What to do next? If you’re not asked a follow-up question specific to your career, let it be for now. If interest continues you may follow-up by saying, “Given your knowledge (or expertise, or years in the industry), do you have any advice?”
- Don’t overstay your welcome. Close the conversation with a warm handshake and kind words before engaging with another. Rather than attempt to get a business card, I’d simply follow up with a hand-written note referencing part of your conversation showing you paid attention. At a minimum, reach out on LinkedIn but take the time to make the request personal.
- Stay in touch by providing value. Unless you can find ways to show you care, best not to reach out again strictly for your own benefit. Sometimes all it takes is an article of interest or a new restaurant serving BBQ if you learned it was someone’s favorite food.