Take advantage of the holidays to network

By MARVIN WALBERG Scripps Howard News Service Published:

I guess you could say that this week marks the beginning of the holiday season, a time for thanksgiving, holiday decorations, parties with friends and family, gifts, crowds of shoppers, colder weather, and demonstrations of sharing, friendship and love.

For many job seekers, the holidays add more stress and depression, but it really shouldn't. Contrary to what many unemployed workers think, the holidays are a great time to network, spread your word, interview and get hired.

Remember three things:

1. Businesses, for the most part, remain open during the holidays and immediately after the holidays.

2 Employers, like most people, are a bit more sensitive to others during this time.

3. If you are unemployed, it is not necessarily your fault, but the state of the economy. Don't be embarrassed and hide. Be proud of who and what you are and get busy advertising.

First thing: Rehearse your "elevator talk", or your 2-3 minute commercial that clearly explains what and who you are and what you are looking for in your next job -- make it clear for anyone, no matter what they do for a living. You'll never know who knows who until you make your personal pitch.

Then, accept opportunities to meet and greet. The holidays offer more opportunities for social gatherings than any other time of year. Take advantage, and make sure that the people you meet know about you. You can garner strength with new acquaintances without being a bore. Remember that you are not guilty of anything; you are simply looking to get hired.

Keep a little notebook handy (or smart phone) to record names, email addresses, and phone numbers of new contacts you make, and if a person shows interest in your search, follow up with a note of thanks and a request for referrals. If you don't ask, you won't get, and I've seen people actually get hired at a Christmas party. If it happened once, it can happen again.

So, don't spend this holiday season watching TV. Get up and get out. You can enjoy the season by taking advantage of opportunities to party and work your search at the same time. Use it effectively and 2012 will be a better year.

Do what others fail to do!

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