Tis the season for holiday parties and get togethers are a great networking opportunity. You never know who you will meet — it might be someone who could be helpful to your career now or in the future. But you won’t know unless you work the room.
Networking and mingling does not come easy to everyone. Let’s say you’ve talked to the one person you knew at the party, now what? Bentley University Director of Undergraduate Career Education & Outcomes Alyssa Hammond shared her tips in a recent discussion on Facebook Live.
Break the ice
This is holiday networking, you’re not in a work setting, so no need to walk up to strangers and start giving your elevator pitch, it’s all about breaking the ice.
Tip: Just walk up to someone who looks friendly and introduce yourself. Start with with a general question like “how do you know the host?” or “ what brings you here tonight?”.
Find common ground
Keep things going by asking easy questions that can establish connections between you and the person you’re talking to. Questions like: where do you live, where do you work, what are you doing for the holidays? You may find out you grew up in the same town or have mutual interests.
Tip: Be an active listener. It shows you are truly interested and allows you to ask relevant follow-up questions. A bonus: keeping the other person talking takes the pressure off you!
Be ready to share your story
Ultimately, conversation is a two way street and they will eventually turn the tables and ask where you are from and what you do. SInce you’ve had time listening to their story, you can better gauge what they will be interested in hearing from you. For example, if someone has shared they work in an industry you might want to explore, make sure to bring up your experience or interest.
Tip: Be ready to share your story. If you’re a student, give some details about your year, major, where you’re from, and what you’re interested in doing.
The more, the merrier
Often the conversation is not going to go anywhere and that’s ok. There’s no pressure to set-up long term relationships or job interviews. But keep in mind that for every five people you meet, you might meet one who could be helpful, and that’s success!
Tip: Talk to as many people in the room as you can. The more people you talk to, the more chances you give yourself of connecting with someone down the road.
Make sure to follow-up
If you do make a connection that might pay off in the future, make sure to exchange contact information and connect with them on LinkedIn. And while you’re there, do a little research and find the rest of their story. If it still looks promising, then send them an email letting them know it was great to meet them at the party. You might mention you sent them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn and you could even mention something specific you noticed on their profile.
Tip: Take a chance and go beyond LinkedIn. Ask if they are free for coffee some time.
Still not feeling motivated to network during the holidays? Keep this in mind — more than 70% of people get hired through networking.