Today’s post is one of many responses to the question, “How can job seekers make the most of the holiday season?” from members of the Career Collective community I co-coordinate with my colleague Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter. I encourage you to visit other members’ responses, which are linked at the end of my post! Please follow our hashtag on Twitter: #careercollective.
If you have been keeping up with my series about how and why to use the holidays to advance your job hunt, you know there are many reasons and many ways to make the best of the holiday season. Click HERE for a launching page that links to all of the advice from my expert panel of colleagues and friends.
With so much great advice about how to use the holidays to network, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit an important, but overlooked topic to help job seekers stand a head above the rest at this busy and fun time of the year.
Networking is great. Meeting a lot of new people is terrific. However, knowing what to do once you’ve made a contact is just as important as finding the contact. How can you hook your contacts? Here are my tips for being remembered:
1. Send a nice note. In the mail.
If you met someone at a party or gathering and you want to keep in touch, send a nice note. I like typed notes, some people prefer a hand-written message. At this time of year, a card with a nice hand written note is fine. Be sure to include enough information to help the person remember when and where you met and what you discussed. Don’t forget that not everyone observes the same holidays, so avoid specific references to a particular holiday unless you know for sure. Greetings for the new year are usually appropriate and cannot steer you too wrong!
Of course, sending a note relies on you having the correct contact information, so don’t forget to exchange business cards.
2. Cover your social networking bases.
When you meet someone and you think there is a professional connection, ask if they are on LinkedIn and if it would be okay to connect. Then, be sure to follow up right away (after you get home – not from your iPhone!) with a request to connect. Again, even if it is shortly after the party, remind the contact where you met and what you discussed. Don’t assume he or she will remember everything you talked about!
Connecting on LinkedIn provides many advantages. Of course, growing your network is always important, but also remember that your new friends will now have a chance to see your updates (and you theirs). In general, keeping tabs on someone is easy on LinkedIn and a very low impact way to stay in touch.
Also be sure to ask if the person uses Twitter. I’m a big fan, and I hope more people will begin to use if for professional purposes. Do NOT ask to connect via Facebook unless you are invited after an incidental meeting. Typically, this is not considered proper etiquette.
3. Set a Google alert for the name of the person you met and/or the name of their company.
No, I am not suggesting that you stalk the new contact! However, if Google can help you easily find out news or information about someone with whom you are trying to build rapport, all the better! When you learn that XYZ company has won an innovation award or that Julia Smith has been named a top ten PR rep, you will be able to be among the first to send a follow-up note. This helps keep you top of mind. It sets you apart from every other random contact, which is important in this competitive market.
4. Make a strong personal connection.
In the midst of your initial conversation, hopefully you learned something personal about your new contact. For example – he is a Bulls fanatic or she went to UGA. She’s a photography buff and loves to garden. He is a world traveler, but hasn’t made it to Asia. You get what I mean – make a point to learn something interesting about people you meet. This gives you several benefits:
- You will earn bonus points for being a good listener, for asking questions and for being attentive to your new friend’s interests. We all enjoy talking about ourselves. When you engage around a topic that tweaks someone’s passions, you are more likely to be remembered later.
- You now have a new “hook” to use for follow up! Assuming you keep your eyes on the newspapers and Internet, you are bound to come across a post or article of interest to your contact. Send it along via email with a personal note. Again – the point here is to maintain a “top of mind” status. You sent an article on tips for travel in China and your friend thinks about you in a day when you would not otherwise cross his mind.
You can do everything “right,” (know what you have to offer, have a great twitpitch, know where to look, have great materials…The list goes on and on. However, if you don’t follow up with your networking contacts, all of that work could easily go down the drain. Don’t let that happen to you!
Other responses to the question from Career Collective members:
@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes, “Season’s Greetings and your Job Search”
@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand, “It’s Christmas: And a ho-ho-ho-hum?”
@KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, “The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs”
@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog,“Holiday Resume Sparkle: Outshine the New Year Job-Search Mob”
@heathermundell, life@work, “Have a Holly Jolly Job Search”
@sweetcareers, Sweet Careers, “Holiday Job Search Tips for College Students 2009â€³
@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa Cheers”
@careerealism, CAREEREALISM.com, “Holiday Tip for Job Seekers: 4 Ways to Impress Others with Your Professionalism”
@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, “4 Tips for Making the Most of Holiday Job Hunting”
@KatCareerGal, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, “Avoiding the Holiday Blues in Your Job Search”
@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, “Four tips for effective networking follow-up for the holidays and the rest of the year”
@ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, “Navigating the Mistle Toe of Job Search”
@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, “Merry Christmas! Can I Buy You Coffee to Talk About Me?”
@BarbaraSafani, Career Solvers, “Holiday Networking Can Facilitate New Year Opportunities”
@expatcoachmegan, Career By Choice Blog, “Expat Networking: Holidays Are a Great Time to Nurture and Grow Your Network”
@chandlee, The Emerging Professional Blog, “Footprints & Associations: Job Search Tips for the Holidays”
@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, “(Holiday) Party Your Way to a New Job”
I can help with every part of your job hunt! Need a great resume? Tips to use social networking? Interview coaching?Â If you need help mobilizing your networks and your job search plans, learn more about how I can help you! While you’re at it, don’t forget those social networks! Be sure to become a fan of Keppie Careers on Facebook…I’d be thrilled to have you as part of the community! Since we’re on the subject of doing something new…Are you on Twitter? Jump on and touch base with me @keppie_careers.
photo by Robert in Toronto