Making Networking The Best Gift You Can Give, Continued
3. The Gift of a Positive Attitude: You may be in a difficult place with your job search, and understandably so– an ongoing job search, being stuck in a job you hate, or chronic underemployment are all very demoralizing, but an optimistic outlook (ok, not that easy to find at times, but dig up whatever you can), can be beneficial on a number of levels.
Positivity is infectious and the more positive energy you exude, the more others will be inclined to want to talk with you and help you. Taking along your positive attitude might also help someone else who isn’t feeling so good. And if you need a little pick me up, see how other people do it at the Happiness Project or the Positivity Blog. Sometimes, it’s just getting out of the house and being around others that can help you forget about your woes for the time being.
A holiday party, for instance, is a time to put aside those anxieties, relax and make the most of being around old friends, new friends, fellow job seekers and who knows who else, right? Make the decision to show up with the most positive and open mind because the chances of you leaving feeling even better is directly correlated to your positive approach. Alternatively, take a friend or two to your next party, particularly if you know someone who does not get out enough right now and needs to do more networking, because, the more the merrier when spreading good cheer.
4 Don’t Overlook the Gifts Others Will Have For You. It is easy to go into a networking event or party, take a quick glance, and decide, “There is nobody worth networking with”. Of course, this not a very constructive attitude to go anywhere with, and in fact, since networking is about getting to know people, unless you have really made every effort to do that, that judgment call is inherently false. In fact, everyone has something of value to offer, and if it’s not immediately evident, your task is to engage until you figure out what that nugget of uniqueness is and with enough inquiry and curiosity, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find out.
You may have holiday parties lined up with family and friend and believe that no networking is going to take place there. However, you might find yourself reconnecting with cousins, aunts, or friends of friends you only get to see around the holidays. Do they know you are on the market for a new opportunity? Do you know what type of work they all do, where they work, and how they got there? Maybe not, so be prepared to find out what they do, ask questions about their career trajectory, and any other good advice they can share with you. Never dismiss anyone and their potential to share something with you and vice versa. With an open mind, and a little curiosity, you might walk away with a lot more than you expected.
5. The Gift of Genuine Interest. Find out who is going to be at your various networking events by calling your friends, perusing the evite invitations, or Meetup.com RSVP’s, and then select 1 or 2 acquaintances (or more, per party) who you have always wanted to get to know better but haven’t had the chance. You’ve seen these people at networking events before and you know a little about them and want to know more because they do something you are interested in, worked a company you are exploring, or they are just interesting. If you know they will be at a party you are going to, do some research (No this is not snooping, just a little networking preparation). This way, you will be able to engage in some meaningful conversation, and be ready with some strategic questions that might help you learn more about a company you are interested in, or about their particular expertise. By having learnt a little about them, make your acquaintance feel special, and interested in what they do and have to offer, without asking too many questions. Most people loved to be asked advice, and are generally very willing to share their knowledge with interested parties. So, show your genuine interest, and you just might reap the rewards of a more fulfilling conversation.
6. The gift of a Linkedin Connection . Don’t underestimate how you might be able to help someone by inviting them into your network. A Linkedin invitation is ideally a mutually beneficial experience; assuming that both parties are equally invested in their professional networks and they both use Linkedin. So, go armed with your business card, and if you don’t have one, now is the time to invest in one. Vistaprint is relatively inexpensive, and easy to design online. This is one present you need to give yourself and the most important piece of information you can have on it is your Linkedin Profile URL. Before you leave, don’t forget give your card to every person you have talked to, and invite them to connect. You might be the link to helping someone else find a job, and that’s priceless, and not just for the lucky person. Being the essential connection in that process will pay long-term dividends back to you.
So, pay-it forward and put some good will out there this holiday season, everyone will be very grateful and you won’t be forgotten. Ultimately, that’s what really counts.