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Making the Most of Holiday Parties

We’ve all been there. There’s a company holiday party you’d rather not attend – or maybe your next door neighbors are throwing an event that you just can’t avoid. Whatever the occasion, these parties can be draining during the holidays. This is especially true for those of us who are introverts, or who have other commitments such as children or a demanding job. It can feel like there’s just no room for another to do on the list.

But, if you’re planning to be on the job market next year, holiday parties can truly be the perfect place to kick off your search. Where else will you find such a large group of warm, friendly people in one room together? They’re typically friends you haven’t seen in a while, who genuinely want to know how you’re doing and what you’re up to. And, they’re often looking to reconnect again outside of the event.

Holiday parties are also often very cost effective as they are typically free and at the most, may only require a small host gift or a bottle of wine.

The best part is, you don’t have to wear a suit. And you don’t usually need to deliver your elevator pitch from scratch. You’ll know most people, or a friend will likely introduce you. Conversations will be easier, more interesting, and less forced than a typical networking event.

To truly make the most of your holiday parties this year, plan ahead. Try to get enough rest in advance and be ready to share the latest news in your life. Share personal updates, including changes in your family, your home, or your work. But, do your best to keep your news positive. Holiday parties are meant to be a festive occasion and should focus on the good things going on in your life.

If forced conversations feel difficult, think of a list of questions in advance. Ask how their family is doing. Ask if the friend has any plans to travel or take a vacation soon. Ask about common hobbies and interests.

Remember to bring business cards – and to exchange them with other guests when (and if) it seems appropriate. This will help you to stay in touch with new friends and update your contact information for old ones. If you’re not currently working, a simple card will do. Include your name, phone number, and email address.

After the event, make a point to follow up with the folks you want to stay in touch with. Invite them to your next party. Ask them to have lunch or coffee. And, be sure to connect on LinkedIn.

These small interactions build your friendships and grow your network. When the New Year comes, you’ll be more prepared to put your best foot forward. And, if you do ask a friend for help with a job application, it won’t be the first time they’ve seen you in a while. Build your network of friends when you’re not asking for help with a job.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Network when you don’t need it

Have you ever had a friend who disappeared a few years ago? The one you never hear from, until they pop up and they need something. I’ll admit it. I’ve been this person before, and it’s a reminder of something not to do.

If you’re like me, the type of person you want to devote your time to helping is the same person you feel appreciates you. They’re someone who takes the time to check on you. They ask about your family and your life. It’s someone you feel like you know well. They know you well. They care about you, and you care about them.

When a friend pops in out of the blue and asks for a favor – they begin to feel like a sales person. You wonder where they’ve been and what their real motive is. You wonder if they’re your real friend, or if your friendship is contingent upon something else.

It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, right? And, chances are good that you aren’t as helpful to that friend as someone who genuinely takes the time to stay in touch with you.

It’s a great reminder to network when you don’t need it. Stay in touch even when you’re not looking for a job. Offer help when you don’t need anything in return.

Someone recently shared the way they’re doing this with me. Each day, they go through their cell phone and pick someone to call at random. On the first day, they pick an A name such as Amanda. On the second day, they pick a B name such as Bob. They call at least one person each day, and they say hello with no motive. If the person isn’t there, they leave a friendly voice message for the person. They rotate through the entire alphabet and start over the next month.

I haven’t tried this method yet, but it sounds like a great way to get started. I know what you’re thinking though. It can be weird to call someone with no appointment – no text message – no email. You’re right – it can be weird. It can also be really normal. The more you reach out to friends for connection, the less surprising it will be when you do.

And, when you do need something, your friends will be more likely to step up. They’ll know that you really need help, and that you’re truly invested in your friendship with them.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

3 job search tips for the introvert

I have to confess: I’m an introvert. People I’ve met in person are often surprised by this little known fact. They assume that public speaking and networking skills equate to extroversion. And, this makes sense on the surface. But, introverts can excel too. If you struggle, here are three tips to help you excel in your job search.

First, practice networking. Don’t wait until it really counts to go to networking events. Prepare by writing down and practicing your elevator pitch. Get your business cards together. Think through how you will approach a business social event, and whether or not you’re comfortable going alone. Set a goal to meet at least five new people per event, to exchange business cards, and to follow up with them after the event online and potentially in person.

Second, look for opportunities to have private meetings with networking contacts. One on one meetings are typically much easier (and more fruitful) for introverts. Despite only meeting with one person at a time, quality often trumps quantity. Invite new contacts for a coffee, or for lunch. Take the time to get to know each person, and to find out what you have in common. Look for opportunities to help the other person, and try to avoid asking for favors up front. Relationship building takes time, and isn’t all about landing a job in the moment.

Here’s a bonus tip about events. If you struggle to remember names or details, write notes on the back of every business card you receive. Include the date you met the person, where you were, and a few things you talked about. Before you attend future networking events, review your business card notes. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it will be to remember names, and how impressed your new contacts will be.

Third, use the internet to your advantage. If you aren’t tapped into the latest gossip on a company, check out their reviews on Glassdoor.com. If you have an interview coming up, use LinkedIn to research your future hiring manager. Use sites like Salary.com to find out what other people are making in your field and in your city. In the past, much of this information was gathered by word of mouth. But, the internet gives you the power to learn more about the company, the hiring manager, and the job – all from the comfort of your living room.

Just remember, being an introvert is an asset. Depending on the type of job you do, the hiring manager may be looking for someone who’s a little quieter or a little more serious. And, if you struggle at networking events, keep in mind that the more you practice, the better you’ll become. Plus, you don’t have to be the best networker to be a great one. Networking isn’t a one-time event, or a competition. Your network is something you develop and grow over time, in many settings. This means that you’ll have many chances to make a great impression.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

126 | 20-min Networking Meeting – Marcia Ballinger, Ballinger | Leafblad in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

Episode 126 is live! This week, we talk with Marcia Ballinger in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.

Marcia is the Co-founder and Principle at Ballinger | Leafblad, an executive search firm focused on serving civic clients including foundations, non-profits, and higher education intuitions. She’s also co-author of The 20-Minute Networking Meeting.

On today’s episode, Marcia shares her secrets to getting and executing a 20-minute networking meeting successfully. If you’re struggling with networking, this episode is a must listen!

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on iTunes or Stitcher.


To learn more about Marcia, visit her website at http://www.ballingerleafblad.com/, or check out her book, The 20-Minute Networking Meeting here: http://amzn.to/2mYB3p2.

Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching. Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on iTunes and leave me a review!

Where are you getting stuck

Whenever I meet with a new job seeker, I always ask the same question. “Where are you getting stuck in your search?” It sounds like a simple question, but it can shed quite a bit of light into what’s going on.

One of the top struggles is having a resume that isn’t well put together. Very often, the job seeker wonders what about their resume the hiring manager didn’t like. They spend hours combing over the details, refining each word, trying to craft the perfect resume.

The way the job seeker presents themselves to a hiring manager on their resume does have a big impact on their results. First impressions really are important. For example, a typo in a resume can cause a hiring manager to automatically throw out a resume. The resume is a valid concern that really can impact job search results.

Although I believe this wholeheartedly, I reflect back on a friend. No kidding – he has a six-page resume. Have you ever heard of that being a good idea? On a number of occasions, I’ve volunteered to help him rewrite his resume.

But, can you guess what happens? Yep. Every time I start to reconstruct his resume, he lands a new job. And, not just any old job – he lands a great job, at a great company. It’s happened so many times that I finally gave up on the long resume.

So, why is it that someone with a six-page resume isn’t getting stuck in their job search? It’s a great question, and it isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. First, my friend has developed a specialized skillset. He’s focused on being the best at one particular thing. So, when a hiring manager is in need of this particular skill, he’s someone they think of.

But, what he’s also done that’s just as important, if not more so – he’s always working to build and grow his personal professional network.

He takes the time to get to know the people he works with. In fact, I first met him at work, many years ago.
He spends time with colleagues. He meets their families. And, he flies around the world when they get married, just because he cares about them. On top of doing a good job at work, he does a great job outside of work, and people remember that.

Most of all, he doesn’t rely on the internet to find his next job. He’s built up his contacts over the years. If he wants to find something new, he will reach out to the people he knows in the industry. They know him. They trust him. And, they want him to work for them.

What’s he’s doing is that he’s playing a different game than everyone else. He’s taken his job search offline. It’s a people game, rather than an internet game. Instead of optimizing his resume, he’s optimizing his professional network. And, it’s working!

Now, if only I could get my hands on that resume…

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Making friends as an adult

The title of this column sounds a little strange at first glance. But, if you’ve ever tried to make friends as an adult, you know this is a big deal. And, it’s not just because it’s important to have friends. The friends you have as an adult can have a major impact to your career.

Just last week, I met with a job seeker whose best friend helped him to land a job at a large, well-known corporation. The friend was by his side through the entire interview process, giving tips along the way. There’s just absolutely no substitute for this.

The problem is, as children, friends are almost served up to us on a silver platter. First, we have friends from our homeroom class. When we begin to play sports or join scouts, we have friends there. In high school, there are extracurricular activities.

Even if you moved for college like I did, friends were provided. In fact, one of my best friends is someone I just happened to live down the hall from in our freshman year dorm in Upstate New York.

So, what are you to do when you’ve moved to a new place as an adult? Honestly, it can be tricky and it takes time. It feels more risky than as a child because you aren’t guaranteed to spend much time together forming bonds with your new friends.

But, let’s start with where to look. Great sources of new contacts are social groups and special interest clubs. To find these groups, look on sites like Meetup.com. They often share calendars of public events. You can also look up cooking classes, and dance classes. I’ve even signed up for a car repair class before. It’s typically completely acceptable (if not normal) to show up alone. If you sign up for a group that has recurring meetings or classes, you’ll be more likely to form longer lasting bonds.

Once you’ve found a few people you’d like to know better, make an effort to connect outside of the activity where you originally met them. Invite them for coffee, or beer. Ask them if they’d like to help organize a bowling or trivia team. The more you can schedule regular visits, the closer you’re likely to become.

As an adult, one challenge you’ll face with these steps is that many people are already booked up. This is normal and it becomes more normal the older you get. People only have so much free time and the more pre-existing commitments they have (such as children and a spouse), the less available they will be. Keep your eye out for other people who have also relocated to your city. They are much, much more likely to be facing the same issues you are and are struggling to find adult friends.

Taking the time to connect with others as an adult is not only fun and good for your social life, it will help you professionally, so don’t give up – and know that you’re not alone!

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.