The New Look of Holiday Networking

Holiday parties. They seem to help fill up any block of free time during the already busy holiday season. Whether you’re attending for fun, for networking purposes or a combination of both, you looked forward to meeting new people. But COVID-19 changed that. Just like everything else about the holidays this year, the traditional holiday gatherings will likely be a thing of the past.

However, it doesn’t mean you can’t still expand your networks over the holidays. You just need to be flexible, adaptable and a little more creative.

Before you cringe at the word “creative,” think of it like this: WHAT do you want to share in your networking, and HOW will you do it in today’s world?

Let’s break it down, first focusing on WHAT you want to share. What are your greatest strengths and passions? How would you describe yourself to someone in a way that they will remember you?

The truth is there are few people who are self-aware enough about their strengths, passions and interests that they can share them succinctly enough to engage with others. So, we’re helping you out. We’re giving you the Personal Branding Statement Template. (Take our online personal branding statement course.)

The Personal Branding Statement is a two-sentence statement you create that introduces you to someone in a very quick and powerful way. Here’s the template:

I am a (talent), (talent) and (talent) person who loves (passion), (passion) and (passion). As a (identity) and (identity), I (verb), (verb) and (verb) to/for (what matters to you).

Here’s how it could look in the real-world:

I am a creative, dynamic and result-oriented person who loves to inspire people to discover, develop and live what is great in them. As a process-minded educator, I build easy to use tools to help people succeed in work and life.

I am a detail-oriented, logical and curious person who loves to solve problems and challenges to improve results. As an avid team player and athlete, I work as I train – to win, to succeed and be the best.

I am an analytical, logical and clever person who loves to make the complicated simple. As an action-oriented science nerd, I translate big science into practical and usable information for all.

Congratulations. You’ve just discovered an effective way to share critical information about yourself in a succinct and unforgettable way. And a bonus: you increased your self-awareness to uncover that information.

Now that you have clarity about your greatest passions and strengths – and HOW they can be used in today’s world – it’s time to explore HOW to share that information when traditional networking events aren’t an option. Here are 3 ideas you can try:

  1. Host recurring [holiday] Zoom chats. Schedule weekly Zoom calls with 3 of your friends and have each of them bring one friend to each Zoom call. Base it on shared interests, hobbies, similar work roles, people looking for work, etc. Or, consider bringing someone from a different cohort (Boomer, GenX, Millennial, Gen Z). Introduce each other and why you had them come to the Zoom call. Share your branding statements to get conversations started. Share contact information and encourage more conversations outside of the initial call.
    For an organization, organize holiday Zoom chats with 3 to 6 employees who don’t work together. Whether they’re at different levels, in different departments or different countries doing the same work on different teams, use this as an opportunity to network within the company. If appropriate, add the “bring a friend” component as a means to attract other talent to the company.
  2. Host a weekly holiday background Zoom call. Use the opportunity to invite different friends each week where you catch up, talk about the holiday and have a holiday background competition on each call (could this become the new ugly sweater contest?). Share your branding statements to get conversations started and talk about how their background aligns to who they are.
  3. Holiday masks. Host an event that is set up to encourage social distancing with 6 feet between chairs and in a room large enough for everyone to keep their space. Make a requirement that attendees wear a mask that is indicative of their work or a hobby. Spend time guessing information about each person based on their mask. An alternate version of the mask networking idea: host a holiday mask event where the mask represents what they feel or celebrate about the holiday. Whatever the angle, the mask serves as a discussion point to get conversations started about individual passions and areas of greatest interests.

Take Action
Think of holiday networking as the WHAT and the HOW. Get better acquainted with yourself to be able to complete and deliver a couple versions of your branding statement. It gives others a brief introduction to you and encourages conversation.

Then rethink HOW to connect with people over this holiday. Be creative. Be adaptable. But continue to be safe. In these moments, you will meet some cool people who can help you both personally and professionally as we all learn how to be successful and happy in our changing world.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Great Job Candidates Won’t Wait

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Taking Advantage of Holiday Networking Events to Advance (or Change) Your Career

Your job plays a big role in your life. It’s the way you earn money to afford to live the life you want. It has the potential to create great experiences with colleagues and in the work you do. But it also has the potential to weigh on you, whether it’s working with a challenging boss or client, or realizing the job you do is not aligned to things you really care about.

As we approach the end of the year, you will likely have the opportunity to attend many holiday events that can be great places to network. So, whether you are attending your organization’s event or events supported by your industry, friends or family, it can provide you the opportunity for you to share your abilities, interests and goals with others. Remember that the people you meet professionally and socially at these events have the potential to connect you to new opportunities, expand your thinking about new options or directions, or provide you with contacts who may be searching for someone just like you.

With the expanded contact you will have at this time of the year, both in and out of your organization, consider these tips to get the most out of your networking efforts.

  1. Ask more than tell. Asking questions engages and involves people in a conversation, especially when those questions are genuine questions about getting to know others. Though networking events are designed to be focused on jobs and roles within an industry, attendees still have lives outside of work. Ask about their family or pets. Ask about what they like to do outside of work. Ask about any recent trips they’ve taken (for work or personal). Sometimes, these questions can inspire greater conversations that otherwise may not have happened.
  2. Be an active listener. Networking events are often touted as intimate events giving attendees the chance to meet others in the industry and connect with their peers. But networking events are considered parties for a reason. There are frequently lots of people and the combination of loud voices and loud music make it challenging to hear – let alone have – a conversation. So train yourself to be an active listener. Listen for key pieces of information when you connect with someone, including their name, where they work and what they like to do for fun. This not only helps you connect with people at a more human level, but it also opens the door for greater conversation opportunities when there is a potential to connect through mutual interests outside of work. And always remember to get their business card before you leave. Not only will this help you find them on any relevant social channels later, but it also gives you a cheat-sheet of sorts where you can write down any interesting conversational tidbits you gathered during your time with them.
  3. Know who you are.  If you were to tell someone your top three strengths – without any advanced preparation – would you know what to say? Could you deliver those three strengths with great confidence and without stumbling? What are you passionate about? What goals have you created for yourself for the new year? Many people move through life on autopilot, doing the work assigned without much thought as to the impact it has in the long run, both for the organization and for each unique person. Take some time before any networking event to revisit your list of abilities, interests and goals. You may only have a brief moment to share this information with someone else. Be sure you know how to deliver it in a concise and memorable way.

If your company, industry, friends or family host a holiday networking event, take advantage of it! You’ll never know who you’ll connect – or reconnect – with and what opportunities may present themselves as a result. To make the most out of your time there, be prepared to share who you are and what is important to you, but more importantly, be prepared to actively listen to whatever information is being shared with you. Listen for new ideas and opportunities. Listen for what great people are doing and contributing. Listen for what is new and exciting. Expand what you think about, consider and who you spend time with. Your world will increase and with it your opportunities and the ability to show up as your best self.

This article first appeared on The Ladders on November 20, 2019: https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/how-holiday-networking-can-boost-your-career.

By Jay Forte

Enhance Your Networking Skills During Holiday Events

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

The holidays aren’t just for friends and families gathering together to celebrate the season. The holidays also provide a great time for networking with colleagues and peers at company and industry events. For those of you considering making a career change in 2018, holiday events can provide you with a platform to tell the world about yourself.

Today’s world is built on networking. You constantly meet and connect with people – some you will work with, others you will meet for the first time. But networking isn’t always easy, especially when you need to find the delicate balance between listening and talking, frequently in a crowded room with music that always seems to be playing too loud.

The trick to successful networking is to first know – then successfully and professionally share – something meaningful about yourself. And the challenge isn’t just in what information to share, but how to do so in a concise way, knowing you have just a few moments to make that initial connection. Peggy Klaus calls these “brag bites” in her book, The Hard Truth About Soft Skills.

So how can you share your Forte Factor in the hopes of landing an interview or promotion? Tell them about your strengths, talents and passions through a story.

Our days are filled with stories, you just need to learn how to recognize the ones that highlight your strengths. Try this: stop and notice something you did this morning – what story could it create for you to share something important about you? For example, I talked about cars with a couple of the guys at my gym. In sharing how I came to choose the hybrid car I bought, I shared how organized, methodical and analytical my approach was. They told me they would want to check in with me the next time they were car shopping, or making any kind of big decision that required a little extra legwork. This was my brag bite. It was an easy share and wasn’t overly aggressive. They now know that this is who I am and it relates to everything I do, including my work. And now, if I connect with any of them specific to coaching, they already have a feel for who I am.

So what story should you tell? Stop and notice how you show up in your world. Define your inventory of abilities and build your inventory of stories. Then watch your world for the places to deliver a brief story that shares something important about you in a meaningful way, allowing others to learn about your abilities in a way that both entertains and educates.

 

Original article “When You Network, Use Stories To Tell Important Things About You” was originally published on LinkedIn, September 6, 2016

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Your Big Three and Succeeding in an Interview

By Jay Forte

If you’ve taken the 3AboutMe Talent Assessment, you have successfully identified your Big Three – your three greatest strengths. Congrats! This insight into three of your natural strengths can prepare you to excel in any kind of interview.

And this insight, combined with the creation of your personal branding statement to narrow down your key strengths and passions, can set you apart in your interview.

Here are three tips to help you learn how to efficiently share what’s unique about you in any type of interview situation.

1. Select the 3 or 4 words that will be most meaningful in an interview, and be sure you share them in your interview.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here; these words can be the ones you used in your personal branding statement. Having those words readily available to you in an interview will help the conversation stay focused on why the opportunity is the right fit for you.

For example, let’s say you are interviewing for an internship or a job that will have you working on a team. You could listen for places in your interview to share that you are supportive, team-focused, reliable, loyal and hardworking – so, something like, “Let me share with you two places in my recent past where my reliability, team-focus and loyalty has made a difference.” Or, “I find my success is because I am supportive of my teammates and my personal standard for hard work – let me share what this looks like…”

2. Connect your words to activities that show your words in action.

Let’s say your words are analytical, practical and results-focused. To illustrate an example of your performance in an interview, you could state, “my analytical focus helped me create a shortcut to a process that saved the organization $X.” Or, “my focus on results helped me save 5% from the cost of delivery in just one month.”

3. Show how your talents and strengths will add value and make a difference in the role and organization.

The real purpose of an interview is to gather information, so by sharing how your core abilities will help lead to your success in the role and in the organization, you make it easy for the interviewer. For example, you could share that your supportive and cooperative nature helps you work with diverse teams. Or you could share that your detail-oriented, methodical and analytical strengths can help you to be efficient as well as effective in the role. Helping those who are hiring to quickly and easily understand what is best in you and how you will add value and make a difference will ultimately lead to your interview success.

Familiarizing yourself with your strengths helps you know and share what is strongest and best in you. Use them first to choose the work, school and life environments that need what you do best, then be sure to share your words in any interview or networking opportunity to show how you fit in a specific role or opportunity.

And remember: a select few people do this. It therefore gives you an edge.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. Think back to a recent interview and reflect on how it went. Were you happy with the discussion? Were there things you wish you said?
  2. Regardless of the outcome of that interview, how can you ensure future opportunities – whether other interviews, employee reviews or networking opportunities – produce the outcome(s) you want?
  3. With the insights obtained from the 3AboutMe Talent Assessment, how will you continue to invest in yourself?

 

Be sure to share the 3AboutMe Talent Assessment with others.

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