Do you and your spouse attend holiday gatherings held by one another’s friends and families? No? Please, reconsider. This year, see it as an job networking opportunity, and not a waste of time. It is not a time to beg for contacts or a job. Don’t use this time to survey. It is a time to become familiar with a readily available contact pool.
No expectations other than having some productive conversations. Here are my suggestions for having subtle but significant social conversations.
It’s 80-90% about them
People love talking about themselves and their successes (notice I did not say problems). Ask him or her how did they reach this part of their success? Ask them questions related to their training and responsibilities. What makes them tick? Be sure to learn first and last names, and ease up on Mr. Walker, please.
The other 10-20% is barely about you
Again, begging and pleading is a turn-off. However, helping has value that keeps giving beyond the holidays. Yes, see if there are ways to help during a party! Less is more, and when done with caution, you can dictate the terms of engagement. (Hint: If I feel welcomed by the host, and gotten to know them well enough, I volunteer to help with…garbage. Proceed with caution.) Ultimately, you can ask for more information away from the gathering preferably after the holiday.
Your spouse can go to bat for you
If you hit it off with your spouse’s co-worker, then he or she can relieve you of the grunt work. It doesn’t matter if the person will refer you to a different company or the same, co-workers unless adversaries will talk. Talk with your spouse before the party to help him or her understand that you are partying with a purpose. If your spouse is uncomfortable with that, DON’T do it!
These same rules apply to family and other social gatherings. As long as you don’t come across desperate, you can find untapped resources from the people you party with during the holidays. If you are successful in finding someone generous enough to give you names, numbers, and more still follow-up sooner than later by thanking them. A phone call is appropriate, but sending them a thank you gift is too friendly. Remember, subtlety.
I should mention that the holidays are opportunities waiting to happen. It’s slower, and call Human Resources may not be the egg hunt that occurs during non-holidays, particularly after January 1. So use the slow period to your advantage, it is the best time to network.