It’s that time of year again, the holiday season! Besides focusing on all things holiday-related, there is something else you should be doing too – networking. Both parties for relatives and work are great places to meet people. Plus, the holidays are a perfect time to connect with former friends and colleagues.
While some people may believe the holidays aren’t a good time to network, there are too many gatherings between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve to not take advantage of them! According to the MIT Global Education & Career Development Center, approximately 60-80% jobs are found through networking. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get started!
Here are some ways to make the most out of this time of year:
Attend Parties And Events
Use your friends, family, and colleagues to go to as many functions as possible. Always remember when talking to people, don’t ask for a job. The conversation should be focused on the other person, but be open to suggestions and listen to what they are saying. Also, an essential networking tool is business cards. Don’t have any? (You really should…) Follow-up with the people you talked to by sending them an email or using social media.
Send Out Holiday Cards
A personalized way to reach out to people is by sending a holiday card. It doesn’t have to be anything special, just a simple handwritten note. Send these to people you have connected with in the past, or people you have just met. Either way, remember to thank them for their time.
Reach Out Through Social Media
Everything is going digital these days, and the holiday season shouldn’t be any different. Send personalized messages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter in order to connect with people. It also proves you are going out of the way to wish them a happy holidays. Another thing to do is pay it forward. Send out information about networking parties and events to other people you are connected to through social media.
You need to be taking action! Yet, it is important to not send out messages in mass quantities. Each note should be personalized and sincere. Networking is about making and maintaining.
How do you network? Is this a good idea during the holidays? Why or why not?
I know – the title of this post is a loaded question.
The feminist in me scoffs at it and asks, “And why not? Men have been doing it without problems or questions for centuries. So now, in 2011, isn’t it about time that women would be able to do it, too?”
And then there is the realist in me. The working woman who added “mommy” to her titles through adoption nearly five years ago when that sweet, scared, 16-month-old girl was placed in my arms.
Who accepted a position with a statewide organization to be able to work part-time hours to be able to better take on the additional role that was now a part of my life.
Who became a mommy again less than a year and a half after the first time to a tiny nine-month-old boy.
Who quit the part-time job because her baby boy refused to eat or sleep while at daycare and couldn’t bear to put him through any more than what he’d already experienced in his short life.
Who, despite loving her children more than her own life and wanting to be there for them in every way, felt an inextricable tug to do something more.
Who still struggles with the career/kid mix even though she now is self-employed and works from home.
I feel so fortunate to have such a great partner in my husband. We jointly made the decisions that impacted my career after weighing the options and determining what was in the best interests for everyone in our family (I made less money and had fewer benefits working in my former career in nonprofit management, so it was a no-brainer that I would be the primary caretaker). He fully supports my life as a career consultant, works with me to divide the workload at home so neither one of us is overly burdened, and is a huge part in the day-to-day planning that keeps us all sane and on-schedule (mostly) around here.
So, back to the original question – can women have it all with careers and kids? My answer to that always seems to go back to, “Yes, but at a price.”
We all have the same 168 hours every week, so when you are juggling careers and kids, something has to give. Maybe it will be that you will work part-time instead of full time. Maybe you will miss seeing your child’s basketball game or have to catch a flight on your daughter’s birthday due to work obligations. Maybe you will skimp on your sleep, getting an average of five hours a night rather than the recommended eight hours.
Truth be told, the latter two are prices that men have been paying for years. They haven’t been able to be as present in their children’s lives because of their work, or they have had to go on less sleep to cover everything at work and at home. So have they really “had it all?” Not really.
Maybe, then, it’s time to stop running ourselves crazy trying to attain an impossible dream and accept that there is give and take with this career/kid balance. Sometimes the career gets more time and the kid part of life is sacrificed; sometimes the kids get more attention and a work duty is delegated to someone else on the work team. It happens.
All you can do is make the best choices given the circumstances in front of you in any given situation, and then trust that whatever you have chosen to do is the right thing for you and your little ones.
My very first piece of career advice came from my dad, he said – ‘that this was a big step, that I was embarking on an important journey and to be honest, mature and responsible, and at the same time have fun and make new friends.’ Important precious words, ones that I’ve held onto and that have served me well over the years. Perhaps you can relate with this and remember your own piece of wisdom that you received from your parent as you were getting ready to step into the working world. Career advice can come from all different places; mentors, bosses, colleagues, and learning from their experiences both good and bad can be important for your own personal and professional growth. Here’s some more of what I’ve learnt along the way:
1. Listen to your intuition
With all the advice out there, there is no better guide than your own inner voice; pay attention and listen to it. Trust and follow it, it will lead you in the right career direction.
2. You are much more than your resume
As you are working on advancing in your career, don’t just focus on money, titles and what looks good on your resume; you are much more than that. In order to sustain long term satisfaction, you must take time to nurture yourself as an individual. Pay attention to your personal development and growth as well. If your current organization supports it, great; if not, take your own initiative and look for places that do.
3. Be interested in your career
A good career path is more than just a list of jobs and positions, it is also about learning, reflecting and growing. These are also important to incorporate for leadership purposes. Get more involved in your own career path and where you want it to go. Ask yourself – is your current work aligned with who you are and where you want to go? Even if you are in a job that you had to settle and take for financial reasons and such, it’s always good to be interested, aware and proactive, so you can eventually steer your career in the desired direction.
4. Misery is not worth it
Over the years I have realized that your work has a lot of impact and influence on your over all well-being; it impacts your health, moods, personal relationships, energy levels and so on. Of course it’s always a personal choice, but for me being stuck in a position that doesn’t serve me in anyway instead makes me miserable, is just not worth it. Remember your job is not just a job, you spend eight to ten hours every single day five days a week engaged in this activity. It is bound to affect who you are and your life.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask
Okay no one gave me this advice, but it’s one that has worked well: ASK for what you feel you deserve in life and in your career. Unless you get clear on what you want and take the initiative, chances that things will just automatically happen are usually on the lower side. So don’t be afraid, don’t sell yourself short, know your value and worth and go for it!
How about you? What advice have you received that has worked well?
In your work, confidence is important. If you are a leader, confidence will help your team feel assured that the direction you are taking them is the correct one. As well, they will trust your judgment if you express a need to take a different path. Without confidence, you won’t be a leader because you won’t have anyone who will agree to follow you.
Even if you are “just” part of the team, you want to project confidence. After all, if you aren’t certain about the work you are doing or an idea you have, how do you expect others to be confident in your contributions?
The concern with confidence, however, is when you hit the tipping point – when you go from confidence into the darkness of arrogance.
Before you decide that you won’t need to worry about arrogance overcoming you, take a look at the following scenarios. Do any of them sound familiar?
1. Other team members just don’t come up with good ideas anymore. You can’t quite put your finger on when it started happening, but they just aren’t dependable for anything anymore. You’ll just have to do it all, right?
2. The significance of your own contributions seems to have grown lately. Oh, it’s such a good thing that the company has you around! What on earth would they do without your brilliant insights? You know, they should promote you so you can make an even bigger impact! In fact, you could run the company better than the CEO…
3. Brainstorming sessions are so unproductive! Every time you participate in these sessions, you always find that the suggestions your coworkers come up with in there are really dumb! Of course, you point out all the flaws in their ideas – you wouldn’t want them actually implementing any of them and having all sorts of problems because of their short-sightedness.
Now, if you find yourself recoiling in horror at these situations, that’s good. Chances are that you are not an arrogant jerk.
However, if you find yourself saying, “But you don’t know what it’s like for me!” – I’ll give you that. I don’t know what it’s like for you. But I bet I know what it’s like for your colleagues and the employees under you. And I feel awfully sorry for them.