Surveys have found that 55% of all jobs are secured through networking, so if you’re serious about furthering your career, you’ll also be aware of the importance of developing your networking skills both at work and in social situations.
Get to know the movers and shakers at your company
If you’re already in a job, one of the best opportunities for networking comes during the festive party season – a time to let your hair down and have fun with work colleagues, but also an opportunity to meet faces that you don’t see every day, perhaps even hirers and senior decision-makers. So while these parties are designed for socialising with colleagues outside of work, they can also be used to get noticed through networking opportunities. It’s at these events where you’ll inevitably meet new colleagues, find out what they do, show that you’re enthusiastic about the business, and even share ideas in an informal environment. More importantly, you’ll also be able to express an interest in any potential openings.
Dress to impress
Your presentation and demeanour will leave an impression on those you speak to. That means wearing nothing too revealing or too casual. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t drink too much, become too loud, or overdo it on the dance floor. Flirting is an absolute no-no at these events. 15.7% of UK workers admit to getting drunk at a work party; don’t be part of that statistic. Most hirers are looking for level-headed responsible candidates. Before attending, it’s a good idea to do some research into who’s who. Most company websites have visuals of the most senior staff so you can discreetly put a name to the face. LinkedIn can be useful too. Check the careers page to see what departments are hiring or if there are any new projects coming down the line that might fit your skill set and career aspirations.
Show off your communication skills
How much you gain from the event all comes down to how well you can communicate. It could pay to practice a few conversation openers to break the ice for when you meet someone at the bar or over a plate of canapés. Don’t start pitching straightaway and don’t talk about other people at the firm unless you have something complimentary to say.
Listen intently and express an interest in who the person is (even if you already know) and what they do at the company. After all, most people like to talk about themselves. Try to steer the conversation towards things you have in common initially and, ideally, let them initiate any work-related subjects. Stay away from topics such as religion and politics.
Remember, it’s not an interview
The Christmas party isn’t always the best place to make a career pitch. Most people are there to relax and enjoy themselves. If you feel the person you’re talking to is steering the conversation away from work, then go with them. Let your natural personality and wit shine. The best candidates are those that get along with people in everyday situations.
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