It’s the time of year when people are focused on the holidays and not so much on finding a job or changing careers unless forced to by December layoffs. So you think it won’t hurt to take the month off from job searching. Wrong! The holidays are one of the best times of the year to network!
1. Get off the computer. It has become a common misconception that people can get a job by just submitting a resume online or finding the right opportunities by checking the online job boards. The more accurate reality is that networking is still king. More people find and get jobs through networking than any other resource.
2. Nurture your network. You remember the 7 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon? Same theory. Now is the time to organize your current network and add people who you need to connect with. To keep this information organized, use a spreadsheet for phone numbers, email addresses and brief descriptions of discussions.
3. Prepare! Have a 30-second commercial about yourself in your pocket. Know ahead of attending a party or meeting, the questions you want to ask the people you are networking with. Be sure to keep track of conversations, follow up items, etc. to get the most out of your networking efforts. Take the initiative at networking meetings or holiday events because you never know who knows who (or what job opportunities they might know about.).
4. Avoid the cliché answer to “What do you do?” Instead, respond with your unique value proposition. This gives the person you are talking to a better picture of who you are and what you can do for them. Whether it is a recruiter or employer you are speaking to, know that they are looking at what really defines your value.
5. Use your support system. Some executives have a group of friends they consider their personal board of directors (called mastermind groups in some circles). These are people that are vested in each other’s success and act as a sounding board for ideas, as well as get recommendations for solutions to challenges. This support system could include your attorney, accountant, career coach, a colleague, whomever you value as part of your life and can help you with your career strategy.
So don’t wait until January to get started. You might surprise yourself by finding several “hidden job market” leads, or job opportunities that the general public won’t learn about until 2013. Get the jump on your competition!