Networking with Strangers: Make the Most of Travel and Holiday Gatherings
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We’ve all been exposed to the power of networking, and most of us have witnessed the astonishing things that can happen when one conversation or connection sparks another and changes the course of destiny. For job seekers especially, every social encounter represents a door to a new world of opportunity. Each new face at a party is a map to an unknown destination.
As the holidays approach, the power of networking reaches its peak as our schedules become layered with social events and travel, two of the most important crucibles of opportunity and social serendipity. Here’s how to make the most of both. Factor these tips into the weeks ahead and you may find yourself facing a whole new career landscape at the beginning of 2013.
Benefit from Chance Encounters
As you travel, don’t be afraid of unknown faces in the crowd. Stay safe of course, but as long as you’re in a well-lit public place, don’t just put in your earbuds and hold up your book to avoid contact with those around you. Let the person next to you chat you up. Let strangers show you pictures of their children. Share a joke with your seatmate on the plane. Open up, relax, smile, and listen. Why not? You have to wait here in this train station for a while anyway. Talk to strangers. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
When you receive an invitation, accept. At this time of year, social events may seem like a dime a dozen. If you feel like staying in tonight, so what? You’ll get dressed up and go out tomorrow. But remember, every time you do this, you close the door on what might have been. Rally and put your shoes on. Find out what fate has in store.
Send messages. Actually mailing out handwritten Christmas cards may seem a little old fashioned, but most people still love receiving cards and hearing from those they haven’t seen in a long time. If a card seems a bit much, at least send a quick email or happy holiday text message to anyone you know who’s been on your mind.
Make the most of your casual conversations at social events. In other words, listen carefully and read between the lines as people speak to you about their lives. Search their words for anything that may sound like a problem you can solve, an answer or recommendation you can provide, a service you can offer or a way to help people get closer to the things they like and want. There’s no better way to help yourself than by helping others. And sometimes the best thing you can offer someone is an introduction to someone else.
Say goodbye. When you leave a gathering, seek out the people with whom you’ve spoken and actively say goodnight or goodbye. If you’ll see each other again soon, acknowledge this future event before you part. If you’ve spent a week or weekend getting familiar with new faces, don’t just rise early on the last day and sneak off to the airport. Every encounter with a new person is an experience. Treat the situation with the ceremony it deserves. Reach out, be known, and be remembered.
LiveCareer (www.livecareer.com), home to America’s #1 Resume Builder, connects job seekers of all experience levels and career categories to all the tools, resources and insider tips needed to win the job. Find LiveCareer on Facebook and visit LiveCareer's Google+ page for even more tips and advice on all things career and resume-related.
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