By: Guest Contributor: Daisy Swan - Career Coach
Contributor's website: Daisy Swan
They’re inevitable, right? The five or six holiday functions that we feel we must attend, like it or not. Well this holiday season, why not look at those holiday happenings in a different light? Use them to your advantage, to further your business or your career. Look at these functions not only as networking opportunities, but as a way to focus in on what you might want to be doing – or doing differently – in the New Year.
We’ve all been there…the annual gathering at our corporate holiday party or our networking or professional organization. This time around, don’t just make the ever-present small talk and gather business cards, with what would appear to be the sole purpose of gaining contacts and/or “politicking”. As best as you can, know your audience beforehand, and seek out those in the crowd who are of most interest to you – be it your “competition”, your idol, or simply, someone that you can align with to help each other in a work capacity, or to cross-promote your businesses. Utilize these social situations to ask questions of people who may be doing what you would like to do, about their jobs/careers or businesses, as well as simply using these situations to network.
Next step: Ask insightful questions, possibly about industry trends. Or ask a poignant question about their background or how they got where they are, at the moment. Something that will not only make the person that you are in conversation with think, but will make them think about you…they will remember you as the person who asked a “real” question. And that question and ensuing answer will help you in the long-run.
If you do not already belong to a business or professional association or networking organization, the holiday season is a great time to join one. SEEK OUT those local holiday functions, and attend as many as you can (without overdoing it, of course!). If you own a small business in a particular area of the city, look for functions that will allow you to meet and chat with other business owners in the area, like the many street or town association functions such as those held by the West Third Street Business Association, or the Melrose Avenue Merchant Alliance, or District La Brea.
If you are in fashion or in food – or nearly any other industry – find events in that realm, and mingle with your competition and industry leaders; ask about how others are doing (or, what they are doing). And when all is said and done, if you have business cards or other forms of contact information that include an actual mailing address, send a hand-written – non-denominational, of course – holiday card as a “nice to meet you” and “best wishes in the New Year” note, just as you would do as a follow-up to an interview. We all like to receive cards, and this will keep you on that person’s radar.
So when you’re getting ready for any of these functions it’s a good time to set the intention of making genuine connections with others. You have more than you think to offer, and stepping out into a situation where you feel like a host, even though you may not be one, radiates out to others, putting them, and you, at ease.
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(image credits: istock photos courtesy of Daisy Swan)