Lunch Hour Power

In traditional jobs employees are given a lunch break, oftentimes an hour, to eat and recharge. These 60 minutes can look very different person to person. Maybe you like taking the full hour to eat while scrolling the day’s news or a book, or you like to get out of the office with coworkers to get some fresh air and take a walk. Regardless of how you use this hour, it presents a powerful opportunity to not only network within your own company, but to seek out contacts in other companies that may help advance your career.

In House

Is there a manager or director that you always seem to gleam inspiration or knowledge from in meetings? Do you find yourself inwardly thinking that you would love to learn a lot more from them outside the confines of those meetings or work flows? Take advantage of the opportunity your lunch hour gives you and ask this employee to grab a mid-day cup of coffee or bite to eat. Chances are they will accept because people are happy to talk about their own experiences and knowledge with others.

A bit intimidated or nervous? Take a few days to notice their routine and where they usually get their coffee or lunch. Then a simple question of “I was already going to grab lunch at {establishment’s name}, I’d love for you to join me.” Playing to someone’s preferences will always increase your chances for an acceptance.

Then, use the opportunity to learn from them and create a repour that will be beneficial on a professional and personal level. Once you see the valuable connections you are able to make in a relatively short period of time, you will soon find yourself with a packed lunch calendar!

Stone’s Throw Away

Not only are contacts within your own employer beneficial, but is there a vendor that is often used whose office is nearby? Or a fellow company in the industry with whom you have LinkedIn contacts but would love to have actual conversations? Reaching out to these people will offer you the same benefits as forging relationships within your own company, while also enriching your view and knowledge of your industry at large. And, should you find yourself in the intentional or unintentional position of trying to find another job, these contacts will come in handy.

Virtual Connections

If your job isn’t structured in a way where you can leave the office or your office is in an isolated region, seek out lunchtime webinars or online training sessions where you can virtually meet other people in the industry while enriching your skills.

Using the 60 minutes that that are given to you in the middle of the work day to actively connect with coworkers in your company and within the larger industry can be a strategic method to advance your career and forge valuable relationships.

Please Pass the Eggnog: Make the Most of Holiday Networking

As the Halloween decorations are being put away and the menu for Thanksgiving is being drafted, an even more all-encompassing season will soon be knocking on our door: the winter holidays! With them comes abundant opportunities for networking and making / renewing relationships in both your work and personal sphere. Because not everyone jumps for joy at these chances, here are some tips for coming out of the season unscathed and will success!

RSVP Yes

The old adage of just showing up applies. If networking makes you nervous or you clam up upon walking in a room of new people, simply doing that over and over again will make it (eventually!) become like second nature. And the odds are there will be at least a few other people there that do not have a room full of deep relationships, so finding these people will make you instantly more comfortable.

Did you watch the game last night?

Kicking off a conversation with a light topic and one that is on the minds of most people will allow conversation to flow and a rapport to build. Being mindful of regional sports as well as topics like current events and cultural shows such as musicals or plays in the area will help as you can offer up these topics as a starting point to a conversation with someone new.

I work at __________.

Having an elevator-type pitch of yourself in terms of where you work and what your job title and functions are will not only help connect you to other people but will simultaneously improve your speaking skills. This shouldn’t come across as self-aggrandizing but rather as a brief and specific snapshot of yourself and what your functions could offer other people. Do you work in retail? Explain upcoming sales and promotions. Working in performing arts? Rattle off a few acts that will be of interest to the general public. The more you explain your profession and strong points of your company, the tighter and more nuanced your elevator pitch will become. Over time, you may walk in the door looking forward to offering your elevator pitch instead of focusing on your nerves of networking!

Actively listen.

Too often people get interrupted by someone constantly steering the conversation back to themselves. Don’t be a conversation hog. Instead, let conversation flow between yourself and other people naturally. That ebb and flow will translate to different topics and maybe to different people as attendees come and go. By being attentive and actively listening, this will allow you to pick up on the likes, dislikes, and nuggets of information people offer about themselves that will pay you back in dividends as not only the event progresses, but time in general.

Remember and engage.

Those likes and dislikes that people offered about themselves? By remembering, you have a list of reasons to contact someone in the future. Upcoming networking event you want to see who will be in attendance? Reach out to the people you became friendly with! The state baseball team won the qualifying game that person mentioned they love? Send a congratulatory email! The restaurant chain that that person mentioned they dislike opened a location near you? Send a snarky email to that person to keep the repour going so you can both laugh! This way, a relationship will continue to solidify and once you steer your contacts towards matters of work, you won’t seem like a sales call or stock email sender.

Happy networking!