Manage networking challenges through the holidays

Every year about this time, those searching for a new job will undoubtedly be tempted to “wait” until the holidays are over to resume their job search. The idea of searching for work when distracted by holiday celebrations can add one more reason for some to delay networking.

The challenge in “waiting” to get serious about job searching until the New Year begins is that you, along with countless others, all share the same notion. The truth is the holidays can be the best time of the year to talk with new people. However, for those who are uncomfortable with reaching out to others, it can be easy to procrastinate.

Managing your networking challenges this year is different from previous years due to smaller gatherings and virtual meetings. Despite various ways to connect with people, it all begins by doing some pre-networking practice and understanding the purpose of meeting people.

You can take the fear out of talking with people if you have a good plan in mind. Focus on what you share in common with people when meeting new contacts at virtual events, networking online, or during small gatherings.

If networking is difficult for you, make it a goal not to let discomfort keep you from making new contacts and gathering information. It is essential to know that you are not alone. Listed below are common networking challenges and the strategies for the holidays.

Discomfort with meeting new people. Fear usually keeps people from meeting others to avoid saying something awkward and creating a tense moment. What would happen if awkwardness occurred? Truthfully, you would probably feel embarrassed, and the other person would move on, forgetting what took place. When you feel discomfort, always ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen to me?”

Be yourself. Quit comparing your communication style to others. It helps to have some small talk questions prepared in advance to help start conversations. Keep questions open-ended where you learn about the other person. Most likely, you will find common ground that leads to more rapport.

Job titles. When you are between jobs, it can be challenging to talk about job titles, and this alone can keep people from meeting others. Do not let job titles be an intimidation factor. Get behind the title and talk with the person. If job titles come up during the conversation, talk about your interests rather than what you did in the past.

Mindreading. It is more detrimental to networking than any potential challenge. Mindreading can be your protection to reject others before they have a chance to say “no” to you. It is an unproductive mental game that leaves you guessing who could be helpful and interested in you.

Fear of rejectionRejection is often a result of personalizing your situation or believing that when someone acts disinterested or says “no” to you, they reject you as a person. Rejection is more of a feeling than reality. One of the best cures for rejection is to get your mind off you and instead focus your energy on the other person by being interested in them.

Looking weak. How would you describe weakness? Look around you – who looks weak? Weakness is another personal thought process that keeps you from succeeding and talking with wonderful, helpful people.

Suffering from terminal uniqueness. This is a personal belief that you are the only one for whom the networking process does not work. However, it does work for millions of people, and it will work for you too. When you meet new people, you are opening yourself up to all kinds of possibilities. You are much more likely to hear of job opportunities and form good friendships.

Practice starting conversations with a smile and a positive attitude. Managing networking challenges through the holidays can be a rewarding experience and could start a new future.

How are you planning to network this year? 

Kim Thompson