During the upcoming holidays, several job search networking groups will focus one or two sessions on enjoying the camaraderie of the group. Be sure to take advantage of these sessions, for they are not held often enough.
I admit that when I first encountered such a session, I was somewhat taken aback. “WHY aren’t we focussing on job search topics? I REALLY need to be generating more call-backs and interviews… Aren’t these folks taking this job search seriously?” (I had so much to learn… )
Honest discussion, and laughter, are signs that you are not only connecting, but also interacting with the people around you. As the meeting’s discussion topics may not focus primarily upon job search, your time can be spent getting to know the people for who they are (and not just what they are looking for in their next role).
Do you demonstrate an interest in helping the people you already know at these sessions? If so, your relationship will become stronger than had you simply exchanged business cards. And, always be prepared to let others know what you are looking for, and how they may be able to help you. Discussions on an individual level are often more detailed than those presented to larger groups.
At these meetings, there is always the opportunity to greet new attendees, and introduce them to those (in the room) who share similar experiences or goals. Helping people make new connections is another way to strengthen your network. The ability to develop conversations quickly, with others you’ve just met, is a useful skill to have for networking. (More on this in a future post.)
These are ways to exercise your networking skills. In my first transition, as my networking skills improved, I noticed that my phone screenings tended to last longer, and that I more often stayed until the ‘final round’ of hiring discussions. Was this a coincidence?
So, allow yourself to be more relaxed during these holiday networking sessions, and appreciate them for the opportunities they provide.
Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor. He has experience in software development, project management, and interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.